The Giger Bar, One Cool (And Slightly Surreal) Joint

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Most people have seen Hans Rudolf “Ruedi” Giger‘s work, even if they don’t know who he is.  Giger is best known as the designer for Ridley Scott‘s Alien movies, for which he won an Oscar.   Incredibly creative, he paints and sculpts too.   Giger was way ahead of his time in foreseeing the increasingly close relationship between the human body and machines.

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The Château St. Germain in Gruyères (yep, like the cheese), Switzerland houses the H. R. Giger Museum, which is a permanent repository of his work.  The nearby Giger Bar is a stunning, slightly surreal bar designed by him.   Built in 2003, it was way ahead of its time, foreseeing the increasingly close relationship between the human body and machines.  There are two Giger Bars; the other is in his hometown of Chur in the  Graubünden Canton of Switzerland.

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Giger excels at represent human bodies and machines in a cold, but connected, intriguing way.  Sitting in the bar, you feel like you’re in the belly of the beast.  It is an incredibly imaginative and slightly surreal mixture of skeleton and fantasy.

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While it’s dark, structural and even biomechanical, it’s not cold.   We went early and at an off hour so that we could fully explore the place.   We oohed and aahed as we discovered details everywhere.  It definitely makes for an unforgettable drink.

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The ceiling has the skeletal structure of vertebrae, like a fantastic ossuary.

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Once upon a time (the 1980’s), there was another Giger Bar in Tokoyo.  Unfortunately Giger wasn’t as involved in that one.  Its design was constrained by earthquake codes.  Perhaps most damagingly, it became a hangout for the Yakuza.  Giger disowned it and never even entered.

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By the way, Giger is spelled with only one ‘e’.  Hans Geiger, known for his work on the radiation measuring known as the Geiger Counter, was German.

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Schwingen In Switzerland’s Top 10 Posts Of 2012

Since everyone seems to come out with a Best of 2012 list at the end of the year, I thought I would list my top 10 most viewed posts this year.

  1. Everything You Don’t Need And Can’t Live Without – I don’t like to sit still, don’t nap and hate to be bored.  I realize that it doesn’t always make me the most relaxing person to be around, but it’s generally pretty entertaining.  When we had a free Sunday, I decided to go check out a little shindig they had going on in the cool Carouge neighborhood.  Unexpectedly, this post was selected for Freshly Pressed.
  2. Tschäggättä Parade To Celebrate Carnival In The Lötschental Valley – One of the best things about Switzerland is its festivals.  This one was unlike anything I’d ever seen.  This was my first post to be Freshly Pressed.
  3. More Pictures of the Versoix, Switzerland Ice Storm – Remember the picture of the frozen car?  Well, since it was taken in a suburb of Geneva, I couldn’t help myself.  I went to get the shot.  On a side note, it would have been smart of me not to wear high heals when doing so.  A couple of nice Swiss gentlemen helped me off the ice.  Yep, I’m an idiot, but the pictures are great.
  4. Our Basement Bomb Shelter, Otherwise Known As Our Storage Unit – I’m glad other people are as intrigued by this phenomenon as I am.
  5. Mt. Blanc, The Tallest Mountain In The Alps – I am profoundly grateful to have seen such beauty.
  6. The Spaghetti Tree Hoax, Aka Happy April Fool’s Day From Switzerland – Hilarious.  Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself.
  7. My Introduction to French Cinema, A List of Great, Entertaining and Fun French Films – While I posted this before Jean Dujardin won the Oscar, some of his comedies made the list.
  8. Why Didn’t Hitler Invade Switzerland? – This was a hard one to write as it’s a difficult question.  I hope I didn’t screw it up too badly.
  9. Another Cultural Difference…Men In Spandex – Sometimes, it’s the little things…
  10. What The Heck Is A Bidet? – Please feel free to comment with any additional uses you can think up for a bidet.

 

What is a Ch’ti?

Most Americans have never heard of “Ch’ti.”  Every Frenchman and woman knows.  Most of the French speaking moviegoing public knows.  Why?  The highest grossing French film of all time is “Bienvenue Chez Les Ch’tis” which loosely translates to “Welcome to the Home of the Ch’tis.”

Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis

Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A  is someone from northeastern France,  the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region in particular.  The inhabitants are French and speak French, their regional dialect is heavily influenced by the local language Picard (a Romance language closely related to French traditionally spoken by people in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardy areas of France and the Walloon part of Belgium).  As a result, their pronunciation is slightly different from the rest of France and the local slang draws heavily from Picard.   These differences were played upon to great effect in the film, with several sorts of Abbott & CostelloWho’s On First” type of interactions.

Area of the picard language

Area of the picard language (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Picard, “ch’ti” is local parlance for the language.  In southern France, they are referred to as “cheutimi.”  Ch’ti refers to both the language and people who hail from that part of France.  Now that you know what it is, we can move on to pronunciation.   It sounds like, well, um….

enseigne de café en picard, Cayeux-sur-mer (Somme)

enseigne de café en picard, Cayeux-sur-mer (Somme) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This area is stereotyped as a remount unsophisticated, cold,  and rainy place.  It’s inhabitants had traditionally been stereotyped as: alcoholic, uneducated yokel who eats disgusting (to the French palate) food, and speaks an incomprehensible version of French (which may be an unpardonable sin in France).  The genius of the film is that it exploits these stereotypes and debunks them in such a hilarious way.

Spoiler alert – the main character ends up falling in love with the area’s friendly, unpretentious, helpful inhabitants and is able to see past the grey skies to appreciate the rich local culture.  Outsiders tend to think of other countries cultures as homogenous, when they can be incredibly diverse.   It’s a good reminder that France’s culture differs dramatically within the country.  Think about the differences between New York City, New Orleans and Salt Lake City for example.

One final thought, there’s a line in the movies that says it could be worse, you could have to go to Belgium.  Anyone that reads this blog knows my love for Belgium.  If it is better than that, it must be heavenly.

We Took The High Road – La Grande Corniche

Three roads link Nice to Monaco.  They are called “Les Trois Corniches” which translates to the three cliffs or cliff roads.  The word comes from the word “cornice,” the decorative frieze that runs on top of buildings.   They are some of the world’s great drives.  When the rain and cruise ship passengers chased us out of Villefranche, we decided to drive the Grand Corniche.  What better time to take a drive on dangerous, cliff side road than in the rain?

The Low Corniche running out to the peninsula to St. Jean-Cap-Ferat from Villefranche-Sur-Mer

The peninsula with the Low Corniche from above

The Low Corniche (La Base Corniche or Corniche Inferieure) runs along the water, 50 meters above the Mediterranean.  It runs through Villefranche, past the entrance to the Cape Ferrat (known as the peninsula of billionaires), into Beaulieu-sur-Mer (chic Belle Epoque resort town), into Eze-Sur-Mer (from which you can hike up the Nieztsche path to the medieval hill town of Eze) and Cap d’Ail before arriving in the Principality of Monaco.

View from the Moyenne Corniche

The Middle Corniche (La Moyenne Corniche) is higher, culminating at 472 meters above sea level.   It offers impressive views of the sea and the towns above.  We took it out of Eze, going over the viaduct.  The Viaduct of Eze is known as the Bridge of the Devil.

The Viaduct of Eze on the Moyenne Corniche

Built in the early 20th century, the Moyenne Corniche is the newest of the three roads.  Even then tourists were causing congestion on the Low Corniche.

The Moyenne and Low Corniches from the Grande Corniche

We took the Grande Corniche out and drove the Middle Corniche back.   It wasn’t easy to stop for pictures though as we had to cross a lane of traffic to pull off and then get back out.  I can’t believe I’m saying this, but luckily it rained (so there wasn’t too much traffic).  It would be difficult, if not impossible, to stop like that on a busy day.

The Tete de Chien outcrop from Eze

From Eze, you can see the Tete de Chien promontory which dominates Monte-Carlo.  Princess Grace of Monaco (Grace Kelly), was killed when her car went off a cliff on the Moyenne Corniche near there in 1983.

The High Corniche (La Grande Corniche) is the highest of the three with a height of 500 meters above the sea.  It has staggering views and a historical pedigree.  It is the site of the Via Aurelia, the road used by the Romans to conquer the territory to their west (aka France).  La Grand Corniche was built by Napoleon alongside of the old Roman road.

Several movies have been filmed on the Grande Corniche.    Alfred Hitchcock filmed parts of “To Catch a Thief” starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly here.  In some scenes, you can see Eze in the background.  The James Bond film Goldeneye starts with a car chase on the Grande Corniche.  Pierce Brosnan as James Bond chases Russian female fighter pilot Xenia Onatopp‘s Ferrari, in his Aston Martin DB5.  It is also a popular spot to film car commercials (but so is Detroit).

Yep. That’s it way up there on top.

From the Grand Corniche, you can see some seriously expensive homes.  I’m pretty sure that this is Villa La Leopolda.  Built by King Leopold of Belgium (allegedly for his mistress), owned by the Agnelli family (of Fiat fame and money), Bill Gates and then by the Safra family, it was put up for sale by Edmund Safra’s widow, Lily.  Russian billionaire, Roman Abramovich, pulled out of a deal to pay $500 million dollars for it after legal troubles with the French government, losing his $36 million deposit.  Oops.

The medieval hill town of Eze and the viaduct on the Moyenne Corniche from the Grande Corniche

The Grande Corniche is so high and steep that it doesn’t go through many towns (only the hilltop village of Roquebrune).  There are hairpin turns and low guard rails (if there are guard rails).   It wasn’t a relaxing road to drive, but it was pretty freaking cool.

Cycling it…even cooler.

Yes We Cannes-ed

We just returned from our whirlwind trip to the south of France over the holiday weekend.  While we didn’t do much relaxing (there wasn’t much time as we were busy sightseeing everyday), we managed to see an incredible amount in a long weekend.  I picked him up and we headed out of Geneva.  Being a holiday weekend, the roads were pretty crowded (translate this to mean we hit a giant traffic jam and took back roads through the middle of nowhere France for about an hour in the dark), but we made it to near Orange where we spent the night.  Driving late into the night had an upside, we woke up in the south of France.  We woke up to this beautiful view of olive groves in the morning.  Yeah baby!  Let the vacation begin.

After downing more café au lait than anyone should be allowed to drink, we were on our way to the Côte d’Azur.

Cannes is home to little film festival, the Cannes International Film Festival.  It is held for two weeks each May.  During this time, the city is packed with film producers, celebrities and paparazzi.  We decided to drive through Cannes and see what all the fuss was about.  Having faithfully watched Entourage on HBO and seen the Cannes episode, he wanted to hang with Turtle.

Cannes is built around the Bay of Cannes and its palm lined seafront drive.  We drove through Cannes toward the beach, passing tons of cafes, luxury boutiques and hotels.

We drove past the exclusive hotels lining the Boulevard de la Croisette across from the beach gawking.  We weren’t the only ones.  It took about an hour and a half to drive through the town.  It wasn’t calming, but we didn’t mind.  We were busy people watching.

Although celebrities like Eva Longoria, Sean Penn, Sasha Baron Cohen, Gerard Butler, Jennifer Connelly and Alec Baldwin were in Cannes, we only saw tourists gawking and film types barking into their cell phones.  I guess that’s not entirely true, we also saw a few bodyguard types in suits with earpieces.

We saw signs of ridiculous wealth everywhere.   Like Geneva’s Auto Show, there were some insane cars.  I especially enjoyed how this one was parked next to a “No Parking” sign.  I guess you can do that if you have a Rolls.  If you do get towed, you can probably afford to get your car out of an impound lot.

It was hard to get good shots of the harbor, but it was filled with enormous yachts.  Sorry these shots don’t do it justice.  We decided that the best place to stay in Cannes is on a yacht off the coast and away from the crowds.  If it is good enough for Puff Daddy (or whatever his name is now), it is good enough for us.

Although it wasn’t relaxing, the sheer scale and craziness of it all was a sight to see…once.

P.S.  Cannes sister city, not surprisingly, is Beverly Hills.   Too perfect.

Millennium Trilogy Walking Tour Of Stieg Larsson’s Stockholm – Part Two

Yesterday, I posted Millennium Trilogy Walking Tour of Stieg Larssons Stockhom – Part One.  It told about visiting the Sodermalm area of Stockholm, Lisbeth Salander‘s apartments, Mikael Blomkvist‘s apartment, Monteliusvagen and the Lunda Bridge.  Sodermalm  contains many other places named in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest.

Södermalmstorg – Milton Security Offices

Lisbeth Salander worked as a freelancer for Milton Security.  Her first guardian, Holger Palmgren, recommended her to Dragan Armanskij, the Executive Director and chief operating officer of Milton Security.  They form a stable working relationship and build a degree of trust.  Most of their interactions take place at the Milton Security offices, located at the entrance to the Södermalm district from the old town of Gamla Stan.

The concrete, glass and steel buildings of Slussen are the offices of Milton Security, the company worked for as a freelancer.

Stockholm’s City Museum, which provides Millennium tours in several languages  and sells self-guided tour maps is located nearby.

Transit Stop: Slussen T-bana

Hornsgatan 78 – Mellqvist Kaffebar

Located near Lundagaten (where he set Lisbeth Salander’s first apartment), this was one Stieg Larsson’s favorite places.

In the 1990’s, Stieg Larsson was a director at Expo magazine, which had its offices above the coffee shop.  He sometimes had breakfast and hung out there.  He wrote several pages of the Millennium Trilogy there.  It is a perfect place to stop for coffee or a quick-lunch.

This tiny neighborhood coffee shop and a setting for several scenes with the name Kaffebar.  It is a favorite haunt of Mikael Blomqvist. In The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo he meets Salander there and she asks him for a loan so she can go to Zurich.  He also meets Erica Berger there.

Transit Stop: Karlberg station

Götgatan 17A (the corner of Götgatan and Hökens Gata) – Millennium Magazine Offices

In the books, Mikael Blomkvist and Erika Berger run Millennium Magazine.  Their fictional offices were located in an L-shaped office on the third floor of this building.  In reality, it houses apartments, above the real-life Greenpeace offices.

In the Swedish film, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, number 11 Götgatan street stands in as the entrance to the Millennium offices.

Transit Stop: Slussen T-bana

Götgatan 25 – 7-Eleven

This is a 7-Eleven where Lisbeth Salander often shops for large packages of frozen pizzas (Billy’s Pan Pizza, flavor unknown) and Marlboro Lights.

7-Eleven is surprisingly popular in the nordic countries.  While it was too cold for a Slurpee (darn), you can take advantage of this stop to refuel.  You could even pick up some Ramlösa sparkling (the mineral water, the preferred brand Mikael Blomkvist).  It’s Swedish and comes from near Helsingborg.

Transit Stop: Slussen T-bana

Tjärhovsgatan, 4 – Kvarnen

The members of the heavy metal band Evil Fingers are some of the few people with whom Lisabeth Salander is able to forge a relationship.  They play at Kvarnen every Tuesday night.  Salander goes regularly.  Mikael Blomkvist and Millennium employees also come here.

Kvarnen is a legendary 100 year-old beer hall that is full of character with a massive wooden bar.  Its restaurant serves traditional Swedish dishes like Swedish hash, fried herring, reindeer, and meatballs.

Several scenes from the books are set at Kvarnen.  In The Girl Who Played with Fire Salander and Mikael Blomkvist are both at Kvarnen.  Salander sees Blomkvist is having a beer with Dag Svensson and tries to attract his attention by kissing Miriam Wu.

Transit Stop: Medborgarplatsen T-bana

St. Paulsgatan 13 – Synagogue

This is home to the Adat Jisrael Synagogue.  Detective Inspector Jan Bublanski is a member.  He meets Dragan Armanskij (Salander’s boss at Milton Security) here.

Hornsgatan 20 – Java Cafe

In the books, the characters frequently visit Java Café, indulging in the Swede’s love of coffee.  It is currently located at Hornsgaten 20 and has a different name.

Transit Stop: Slussen T-bana

Tavastgatan 28 – Tabbouli (the inspiration and stand-in for Samirs Gryta)

Tabbouli is the inspiration for Samir’s, the Lebanese restaurant where Blomquist, his friends, and Millennium Magazine’s staff dine (lamb stew anyone?).  In The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, it is the location of the shoot out with Nikolic brothers.

Subway Stop: Mariatorget T-bana

Mosebacke Square/Sodra Teatern

Mosebacke square, near Salander’s new apartment on Fiskargatan, features a statue of entwined sisters.  She is seen walking through here in the movies with her lawyer Annika Giannini.  At the end, they are shown at the Sodra Teatern, restaurant and summery terrace popular for having a drink and its wonderful views.

The Millenium Trilogy is set in other Stockholm’s neighborhoods.  Kungshlmen, an island across from Sodermalm where city hall is located, contains the courthouse and police station.

Scheelegatan 7 – Courthouse

Located in the Kungsholmen district on Rungsholmen, the Stockholm District Courthouse is easy to spot because of its tower with the green roof.  The Millennium Trilogy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, starts here, with Mikael Blomkvist’s conviction for slander. It is also the scene of the trial where Lisbeth Salander is declared legally competent.

Transit Stop: Rådhuset T-bana

Kungsholmsgatan 37 – Police Headquarters

This police station features in the books The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest as the workplace of  inspector Jan Bublanski leads the team of investigators, Sonja Modig, Hans Faste, Cut Svensson Jerker Holmberg.

Subway Stop: Rådhuset T-bana

Upplandsgatan – Substitute Guardian Erik Nills Bjurman’s Apartment

The the Vasastan area  on island of Kungsholm was the home of Astrid Lindgren (the author of the Kalle Blomkvist and Pippi Longstocking books).  It is not surprising that Larsson, who greatly admired Lindgren, used this as a setting for pivotal scenes in his books

Salander’s second guardian, Erik Nills Bjurman, has a four bedroom residence on Upplandsgatan street in Odenplan, near the Odenplan T-station.  It is not far from his office in Vasastaden district.

In his apartment, he violently assaults Salander and where she exacts her revenge.  It is also the site of his murder in The Girl Who Played with Fire.

Transit Station: Odenplan T-bana

  • Outside of Stockholm, the quaint village of Gnesta, doubles as the fictional village of Hedestad in the Swedish films.
  • Mikael Blomqvist has a cottage on the archipelago island of Sandhamn.
  • Kurgens Kurva is home to the world’s largest IKEA.  This is where Salander purchases the furniture for her new apartment.
  • Goran Martensson of the Personal Protection Division at Sapo and a member of “the section” lives in Vallingby.
  • Millennium employee Dag Svensson and Mia Bergman live in (and are murdered in) an apartment in Enskede.

Millennium Trilogy Walking Tour Of Stieg Larsson’s Stockholm – Part One

I read and loved Swedish author Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy (so did the rest of my book club in Charlotte, ladies this one is for you).   In Stockholm, you can take the Stockholm City Museum’s popular and award-winning Stieg Larsson Millennium Tour (available in several languages).  It is also possible to  do a self-guided tour with a Millennium Map sold the City Museum for 40 SEK ($5).

Transit Stop: Slussen T-bana

The City Museum (at the entry to Sodermalm)

Heading out in search of sites from the books and movies seemed like the perfect opportunity to check out Södermalm, a fantastic neighborhood in Stockholm where many of the book’s scenes are based.  Sodermalm has always been the working-class, even bohemian part of the city.  Although gentrified, it retains a unique character.  Old wooden cottages and 20th century stone houses line its narrow cobblestoned streets.  Steig Larsson lived there and he had his characters live there too, at least the heroes do.  The villains live elsewhere.

Fiskargatan 9 – New Apartment Home of Lisbeth Salander

With her ill-gotten gains, Lisbeth Salander purchased a 21-room suite on the top floor of the upscale building Fiskargatan, 9 for 25 million kronor ($3,850,00 or  2,808,000  Euros).  It is in an exclusive and discreet neighborhood.  She chose the apartment for its light and excellent views over Gamla Stan, Djurgården Island and the Bay of Saltsjön.   Built in 1910, its green metal roof, making it easy to spot.

In The Girl Who Played with Fire, Salander moves in to this apartment.  She went to IKEAfurnished only three of its rooms.

The name on the door to Salander’s apartment is a nod to Sweden’s famous children’s book character, Pippi Longstocking’s town “Villerkulla”.  The buzzer to her apartment was labeled “V. Kulla.”  Stieg Larsson was inspired by the idea of a grown up Pippi Langstrump (Pippi Longstocking) who gets things done on her own when creating the character of Lisbeth Salander.  This is clearly a nod to another famous Swedish author.

Transit Stop: Slussen T-bana

Lundagatan – First apartment of Lisbeth Salander

Unlike most of the locations in the books, the number of Lisbeth Salander’s flat on Lundagaten is never named.  She had a miserable upbringing in her mother’s public housing flat on Lundagatan.  At 18 Lisbeth Salander, aided by her guardian, Holger Palmgren, purchased it for her mother.  From the books, we know it is located on Lundagatan street near Högalid church and is close to the #66 bus stop.  Some have speculated that it is number 38.  In the Girl Who Played With Fire, Salander moves to her new apartment at Kargatan 9.  She allows Miriam Wu to use the flat. When Salander lived there, it was unorganized and not very clean.  Miriam Wu cleans it up and decorates.

Transit Stop: Zinkensdamm T-bana

The Lunda Bridge (Lundabron)

This a bridge that connects Lundagatan, where Lisbeth Salander’s first apartment is located, and Bellmansgatan, the street where Mikael Blomkvist’s apartment is located.  It is significant because it was the fastest way between them.

Monteliusvagen

From the Lundabron, you can walk via Monteliusvagen, a quarter-mile promenade overlooking Lake Malaren and the Old Town, to Mikael Blomquist’s apartment.   From the path you can also see the courthouse where Mikael stands on the steps after being found guilty of libel across the water.

Bellmansgatan 1 – Mikael Blomvist’s Apartment

It is located on Mariaberget Hill in the historic Söder district.  Many of the buildings in this area were built after a fire in 1759.   Blomkvist’s apartment is in a luxury building located in a desirable neighborhood.  You can recognize it by its gothic and neo-gothic spires, mid-air walkway and castle-like details.

It has views of Riddarfjärden bay, the Saltsjon bay and Stockholm’s old town Gamla Stan.  From the books, we know that Blomkvist bought the flat in the 1980s.  In the book the entrance to his apartment is the front door of the building. In reality, it is accessed directly from the elevated walkway.

Don’t expect an undiscovered spot; it may well be Stockholm’s most well-known address.  Fans from all over the world come see and photograph this building.

Subway Stop: Gamla Stan T-bana

More from Sodermalm tomorrow…

The Hunger Games Filming Locations In North Carolina

We used to live in North Carolina and have been to many of the areas where the new movie, The Hunger Games, were filmed.

From http://www.worldatlas.com, Courtesy of GraphicMaps.com

The arena scenes were filmed in Asheville, North Carolina.  It is way cooler than your average quaint little tourist town.  Asheville‘s vibrant streets are filled with cool restaurants, cute shops, art galleries and a large number of good microbreweries.  If you visit, check out:

  • The Biltmore Estate, America’s largest private home, is located there.
  • The same people who built the Biltmore also built the Grove Park Inn.  Its Sunset Terrace, a massive back porch, is situated for an optimal view of the sunset over the mountains.
  • Located in the Appalachian Mountains, there are tons of great hiking and outdoor activities nearby.
  • The Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the world’s most beautiful drives also runs through the mountains nearby.

Other scenes were filmed at the North Fork Reservoir near Black Mountain (not far from Asheville).

Capitol scenes were filmed in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Shallow Hal, The Patriot, and Leatherheads were also shot in Charlotte.

If you are in Charlotte, stop at the US National Whitewater Center.  Our favorite places to eat there are:

Capitol scenes were also filmed in the nearby town Concord, North Carolina.  Concord is best known for its giant NASCAR track, the races held there and its role as the center of the NASCAR industry.  Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby was filmed there.  Homeland, a show popular in the US right now, is also filmed there.

There were outdoor scenes filmed at one of our favorite hiking spots at the DuPont State Forest, North Carolina.  The Last of the Mohicans was also filmed here.   Some of the movie’s most climactic scenes were filmed at its majestic waterfalls.

District 12 is actually Hildebran, Shelby (eat at  Bridge’s Barbecue if you go)  and another one of our favorite hiking spots, the Pisgah National Forest.

 

My Introduction to French Cinema, A List of Great, Entertaining and Fun French Films

I have been trying to watch TV in French.  Unfortunately, there are not many great television series in French. Thankfully, friends have suggested French movies for me to watch (thanks guys).

Thanks to Igor Film and Casbah Film

Volumes have been written on French cinema and there are endless ways of classifying meritorious French films (best, top, famous classic, popular, recent, great, good, and must see).  Classics like the 400 Blows, Belle du Jour, Un Chien Andalou, and The Battle of Algiers, do not appear on this list.  These films were chosen not for their cinematic adroitness, but for their entertainment value and insight into French culture.  They are divided into the following categories: Comedy, Black Comedy, Classics by Jaques Tati, Romantic Comedy, Dramatic Comedy, Dramas, Action, Animated/Cartoon, and TV (which contains a couple of old television series).

Thanks to Gaumont Films

Comedy

Les Bronzés (French Fried Vacation) – Released in 1978, directed by Patrice Leconte, and starring Michel Blanc, Marie-Anne Chazel, Gérard Jugnot, Thierry Lhermitte, Josiane Balasko and Christian Clavier.  Perhaps I should have listed this under the “Cult” category as this satire was done my the famous sketch comedy group, Le Splendid.  Six vacationers from France find themselves in a Club Med like setting and take part in the organized fun.

Les Bronzés Font Du Ski (French Fried Vacation 2) – Released in 1979, directed by Patrice Leconte, and starring Michel Blanc, Marie-Anne Chazel, Maurice Chevit, Gérard Jugnot, Thierry Lhermitte and Christian Clavier.  The first film was such a success that they made a second one on the slopes.  This film is still quoted by Francophones (French speakers) on the slopes.  With all the skiing we have been doing lately, it is required viewing.

Courtesy of Trinacra Films

Le Père Noël Est Une Ordure (Santa Claus Is A Bastard)– Released in 1982, directed by Jean-Marie Poiré, and starring Thierry Lhermitte, Gérard Jugnot, Christian Clavier, Anémone and Josiane Balasko.  In this burlesque comedy classic, the main character hands out leaflets advertising a sexy Christmas party, but his girlfriend leaves with Santa.

La Grande Vadrouille (Don’t Look Now… We’re Being Shot At!, literally translated as “The Great Stroll”) –  Released in 1966, directed by Gérard Oury, and starring André Bourvil, Louis de Funès, Terry-Thomas, and Claudio Brook.  For over forty years, this film was the most successful film in France.  The crew of a RAF bomber shot down over Paris must then make their way through German-occupied France with the help of two French citizens.

Courtesy of Pathé Renn Productions

Bienvenue Chez Les Ch’tis (Welcome to the Sticks, Welcome to the Land of Shtis) – Released in 2008, directed by Dany Boon, and starring Kad Merad, Dany Boon and Zoé Félix.  This is the most successful French film ever.  A man born and raised on France’s Southern coast is exiled to the Northern territories as punishment for lying to the government.  He is forced to relocate to the north of France, between Belgium and the English Channel where they speak an amalgam of French, Flemish and Latin.  He encounters cultural differences and struggles to adapt to his new life.

OSS 117: Le Caire Nid D’Espions (OSS 117: Cairo, Nest Of Spies) – Released in 1996, directed by Michel Hazanavicius, and starring Jean Dujardin (the French George Clooney who has recently achieved recognition for is work in The Artist), Bérénice Bejo, and Aure Atika.  This spy comedy parodies Bond films and uses lame sight gags, crass sexual innuendo, juvenile action sequences, and hilarious coded conversations to great effect.  He even watched some of it in French with me…without subtitles.

Le Magnifique (The Magnificent) – Released in 1973, directed by Philippe de Broca and starring Jacqueline Bisset and Jean-Paul Belmondo.  It is a slapstick comedy that spoofs B movies.

Courtesy of Alpilles Productions

Les Visiteurs (The Visitors) – Released in 1993, directed by Jean-Marie Poiré, and starring Jean RenoChristian Clavier, and Valérie Lemercier.  In this cult comedy, a 12th-century knight and his servant time travel into the present.

La Traversée De Paris (The Trip Across Paris, Four Bags Full) –  released in 1956,  directed by Claude Autant-Lara, and starring Jean GabinBourvil and Louis de Funès.  In this comedy, two men have to cross nazi-occupied Paris by night during WWII.  As they walk along dark Parisian streets they encounter various characters and have adventures until they are arrested by the German police.

Courtesy of Franca Films

Le Gendarme De Saint-Tropez (The Policeman From Saint-Tropez) –  released in 1964, directed by Jean Girault, and starring Louis de FunèsGeneviève GradMichel GalabruJean Lefebvre, and Christian Marin.  An ambitious police officer is transferred to St. Tropez where he struggles with persistent nude swimmers.  Even more troublesome, is his teenage daughter, who’s trying to impress her rich friends by telling them her father was a millionaire and owned a yacht in the harbor. He tries to cover for her and trouble ensues.

La Chèvre (Knock On Wood, literal Translation Is “The Goat”) – released in 1981, directed by Francis Veber, starring Pierre Richard and Gérard Depardieu.  In this buddy comedy dedicated private eye searches for a businessman’s daughter in Mexico, but the case is complicated by the amateur sleuthing of the client’s accountant.

Courtesy of Les Films de la Colombe, Les Productions de la Guéville, Madeleine Films

Alexandre Le Bienheureux (Blissful Alexander) – released in 1968, directed by Yves Robert, starring Philippe NoiretMarlène Jobert and Françoise Brion.  A henpecked childless farmer is oppressed by his authoritarian wife who does not permit him any rest.  When she dies, he decides that the time has come to take it easy and enjoy life a little, sets  his livestock free, and takes to his bed, practically disappearing. The only clue that he is still alive is his dog, who periodically goes shopping to the nearby town with a basket in its mouth, sparking town gossip about his fate.

La Vie Est Un Long Fleuve Tranquille (Life Is A Long Quiet River) –  released in 1988, directed by by Étienne Chatiliez, and starring  Benoît Magimel and Valérie Lalonde.  12 years after giving birth, families discover their babies were switched at birth leading to complications in the lives of both families.

Les Randonneurs (Hikers) – Released in 1999, directed by Philippe Harel, and starring Benoît PoelvoordeKarin ViardGéraldine Pailhas, and Vincent Elbaz.  Parisian friends fly to Corsica for a mountain trek guided by the married lover of one of the women. They all have their own reasons for going and it doesn’t turn out as planned.

Mon Oncle Benjamin (My Uncle Benjamin) – Released in 1969, directed by Édouard Molinaro, and starring Jacques Brel and Claude Jade.  In the 1750’s, a country doctor in love with the beautiful innkeeper’s daughter, but she refuses his advances until he produces a marriage contract.  He endures several trials including a humiliating practical joke and condemned to prison.

Courtesy of Lira Films

Le Sauvage (Call Me Savage) – Released in 1975, directed by Jean-Paul Rappeneau, starring Yves Montand and Catherine Deneuve.  When a woman breaks her engagement and runs away to Caracas, she is pursued by her jilted fiancé.  She looks to a French middle-aged man she met by accident for help.

La Folie Des Grandeurs (Delusions Of Grandeur) – Released in 1971, directed by Gérard Oury, and starring Louis de Funès  and Yves Montand.  Loosely based on Victor Hugo’s play Ruy Blas, this historical face tells the story of a nobleman who has been exiled from court and sent to collect taxes in the countryside.  His assistant manages to help the overtaxed peasants behind his boss’s back. When he decides to resume meddling in the monarch’s affairs using his assistant as his henchman, his schemes backfire badly.

Black Comedy

Delicatessen – Released in 1991, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, and starring Dominique Pinon and Karin Viard.  This post-apocalyptic surrealist black comedy about a landlord of an apartment building who murders people to serve cheap meat to his  tenants.

Courtesy of Téléma and FR3 Films Production

Tatie Danielle (Auntie Danielle) – Released in 1990, directed by Étienne Chatiliez, starring Tsilla CheltonCatherine Jacob and Éric Prat.  Auntie Danielle, is supposedly in ailing health but is really just a nasty old shrew.  The new housekeeper who starts looking after her, knows what she is doing, and deals with her accordingly.

C’est Arrivé Près De Chez Vous (Man Bites Dog, It Happened In Your Neighborhood) –  Released in 1992,  directed by Rémy BelvauxAndré Bonzel, and Benoît Poelvoorde.  It stars Benoît Poelvoorde.  This dark satire is a documentary about a film crew that follows a ruthless thief and heartless killer as he goes about his daily routines. It gets progressively more complicated when the film crew gets caught up in the violence.

Courtesy of Les Artistes Anonymes

Jeux D’Enfants (Love Me If You Dare, Literal Translation Is “Children’s Games”) – Released in 2003, directed byYann Samuell, and starring Guillaume Canet and Marion Cotillard.  Two young friends go from childhood to adulthood in a friendship that revolves around daring each other to pull increasingly audacious practical jokes. They remain seemingly obvious to their emotionally intimate relationship.

L’Auberge Rouge (The Red Inn) – Released in 2007, directed by Gérard Krawczyk, and starring Christian Clavier and Gérard Jugnot.   In rustic little inn in a remote rural area of France, the inn’s proprietors support themselves by murdering stagecoach passengers who stop over at the inn, keeping their valuables for themselves. A passenger learns of the innkeeper’s homicidal schemes, but is prevented from revealing them by the rules of the Confessional.  He finds a solution.

Classics by Jacques Tati

Les Vacances De M. Hulot (Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday) – Released in 1953, directed by Jacques Tati, and starring Jacques Tati.  Monsieur Hulot, a pipe-smoking, well-meaning but clumsy character, comes to a beachside hotel for a vacation, where he accidentally (but good-naturedly) causes havoc.

Courtesy of Gaumont Distribution

Mon Oncle (“My Uncle”) – Released in 1958, directed by Jacques Tati, and starring Jacques Tati.  In this follow up to Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday, Monsieur Hulot visits the technology-driven world of his sister, brother-in-law, and nephew, but can’t quite fit into the surroundings.

Jour De Fête (Aka Festival Day, The Big Day) – Released in 1949, directed by Jacques Tati, and starring Jacques TatiGuy Decomble, and Paul Frankeur.  An inept, easily distracted mailman drinks too much wine and goes to hilarious lengths to speed the delivery of mail aboard his bicycle.

Romantic Comedy

Courtesy of Claudie Ossard Productions, Union Générale Cinématographique (UGC) and Victoires Productions

Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain (Amélie, translates literally as “The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain”) –  released in 2001, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and starring Audrey Tautou and Mathieu Kassovitz.  This film was relatively popular in the US and ran semi-regularly on IFC. A curious and innocent Parisian girl who has her own sense of justice, decides to change the world by changing the lives of those around her.

Fanfan (Fanfan & Alexandre) – Released in 1993, directed by Alexandre Jardin, and starring Sophie Marceau and Vincent Perez.  Sophie Marceau has always been one of my favorite French actresses.  Although this romantic comedy starts out normally, it veers of and breaks the mold.

Dramatic Comedy

L’Auberge Espagnole (Pot Luck or The Spanish Apartment, translates “The Spanish Inn) –  released in 2002, directed by Cédric Klapisch, and starring Romain Duris,  Judith Godrèche and Audrey Tautou.  In this comedy, a strait-laced French student leaves his girlfriend and moves into an apartment in Barcelona with a cast of six other characters from all over Europe.

Courtesy of Bac Films, Ce Qui Me Meut Motion Pictures and France 2 Cinéma

Les Poupées Russes (The Russian Dolls) –  released in 2005, directed by Cédric Klapisch and starring Romain DurisKelly Reilly and Audrey Tautou.  This movies is the sequel to L’Auberge Espagnole.  This film portrays a reunion set five years after the first film.

Les Convoyeurs Attendent (The Carriers Are Waiting, an expression used when waiting for the repayment of a favor) – Released in 1999, directed by Benoît Marriage starring  Benoît Poelvoorde, Morgane Simon and Bouli Lanners.  A man who obviously loves his family, but doesn’t always connect with them.  One day, he learns an area business association is sponsoring a contest for a family that can break a world record, with the grand prize being a new car and drafts his son into the attempt.

Courtesy of Légende Entreprises, Film 99 Francs and Pathé

99 Francs – Released in 1997, directed by Jan Kounen, and starring Jean Dujardin and Vahina Giocante.  A satire on the business of advertising, a commercial ad designer wearies of his active free wheeling lifestyle and organizes a revolt against the business.

Les Valseuses (Going Places) – Released in 1974, directed by Bertrand Blier, and starring Miou-MiouGerard Depardieu and Patrick Dewaere.   Two whimsical, aimless thugs harass and assault women, steal anything of value, murder, and alternately charm, fight, or sprint their way out of trouble. The story picks up when a jaded, passive hairdresser, joins them as lover, cook, and mother confessor.

LOL (Laughing Out Loud) – Released in 2008, directed by Lisa Azuelos, and starring Sophie MarceauChrista TheretJérémy KaponeAlexandre Astier, and Alexandre Astier.  A teenage girl’s life is split between her studies in a prestigious Parisian high school, her secret diary, her friends, boyfriends, her divorced parents, drugs, and sexuality.  This movie is a remake of a 1980 film, La Boum.

Courtesy of Pathé, Bethsabée Mucho and TF1 Films Production

Mon Meilleur Ami (My Best Friend) – Released in 2005, directed by Patrice Leconte, and starring Daniel Auteuil and Dany Boon.  An art dealer refuses to believe that her unlikable business partner has a best friend, so she challenges him to produce one. He scrambles to find someone willing to pose as his best pal and enlists the services of a charming taxi driver to play the part.

Drama

Courtesy of One World Films, Studio 37 and Universal Pictures International (UPI)

Gainsbourg (Vie Héroïque), (Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life) – Released in 2010 and directed by Joann Sfar It is a biopic of the life of French singer Serge Gainsbourg.

The Chorus (Les Choristes) – Released in 2004, directed by Christophe Barratier, and starring Gérard Jugnot, Jean-Baptiste Maunier, Marie Bunel, and François Berléand.    A successful conductor returns home and reminiscences about his childhood inspirations through the pages of a diary.

Jean De Florette – Released in 1986, directed by Claude Berri, and starring Gérard Depardieu, Daniel Auteuil, and Yves Montand.  In this historical drama, two local farmers scheme to block the only water source for an adjoining property in order to bankrupt the owner and force him to sell.

Courtesy of DD Productions, Films A2 and Radiotelevisione Italiana (RAI)

La Gloire De Mon Père (My Father’s Glory) – Released in 1990, directed by Yves Robert, and starring Philippe Caubère, Nathalie Roussel and Thérèse Liotard.  Based on the novel by the same name, it chronicles a summer in a young boy’s life in turn-of-the-century France. He witnesses the success of his teacher father and his arrogant uncle when they pend their summer vacation in a cottage in Provence.

Un Homme Et Une Femme (A Man And A Woman) –  released in 1966, directed by Claude Lelouch, and starring Anouk Aimée, and Jean-Louis Trintignant.  A man and a woman meet by accident and learn that they are each a widow/widower. They become friends, then close friends, and then she reveals that she can’t have a lover because, for her, her husband’s memory is still too strong.

Le Cœur Des Hommes (The Heart Of Men) – Released in 2002, directed by Marc Esposito, and starring Bernard CampanGérard DarmonJean-Pierre Darroussin, and Marc Lavoine.   Lifelong friends  are forced to confront situations beyond their control when the death of a father, a wife’s infidelity and a daughter’s wedding affects them.  They share their feelings, support each other, and analyze the true meaning of their lives.

Paris –  released in 2008, directed by Cédric Klapisch, and starring Juliette BinocheRomain DurisFabrice LuchiniAlbert DupontelJulie FerrierFrançois Cluzet and Mélanie Laurent.  In this ensemble piece, a professional dancer suffering from a serious heart disease is awaiting for a transplant that has the potential to save his life. While he waits, he observes the people around him, from the balcony of his Paris apartment.

Un Air De Famille (Family Resemblances) –  released in 1996, directed by Cédric Klapisch, and starring Jean-Pierre Darroussin and Catherine Frot.  When an upper middle-class French family celebrates a birthday at restaurant.  During the meal, they explore the family’s history, tensions build, and they explore memories.

Courtesy of Why Not Productions, Chic Films, Page 114

Un Prophéte (The Prophet) – Released in 2009,  directed by Jacques Audiard, and starring Tahar Rahim and Niels Arestrup. A nineteen years old, Frenchman of Algerian descent is sentenced to six years in prison for attacking police officers.  Upon his arrival, he is alone and illiterate.  He falls under the sway of mobsters who enforce a brutal rule and climbs within their ranks.
Les Petits Mouchoirs (Little White Lies, Literal Translation Is “The Small Handkerchiefs”) – Released in 2010, directed by Guillaume Canet, starring François CluzetMarion CotillardBenoît MagimelJean Dujardin, and Pascale Arbillot.  A handful of old friends make some unexpected discoveries about one another during an annual vacation after one ends up in the hospital after an auto accident.  Seemingly everyone has some secret that they have been hiding from their friends.
La Haine (translated literally as Hate) – Released in 1995, directed by Mathieu Kassovitz, and starring Vincent CasselHubert Koundé, and Saïd Taghmaoui.  Three teenage friends struggle to survive in Paris’ ghetto suburbs.  When one is hospitalized after a riot, where a policeman lost his gun. His friend finds it and claims he will kill a cop if his friend dies.
L’été Meurtrier (One Deadly Summer) – Released in 1984, directed by Jean Becker, and starring Isabelle Adjani. This tragic tale of misunderstanding, obsession, and increasing madness,has a woman trying to avenge the long-ago rape of her mother.  In doing so she loses her mind and sets in motion a tragic series of events.
La Piscine (The Swimming Pool) – Released in 1969, directed by Jacques Deray and starring Alain DelonRomy SchneiderMaurice Ronet and Jane Birkin.  This film is about a love triangle that leads to disaster.
Le Scaphandre et le Papillon (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) – Released in 2007, directed by Julian Schnabel and starring Mathieu Amalric and Emmanuelle Seigner.  Based on a book by Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby about his life after he suffers a stroke and has to live with an almost totally paralyzed body.  Only his left eye isn’t paralyzed.

Action

Courtesy of Cerito Films and Mondial Televisione Film

Peur Sur La Ville (Fear Over The City) –  released in 1975, by Henri Verneuil starring Jean-Paul Belmondo   In this French crime thriller a commissaire faces off against two old enemies, a gangster and a maniacal killer.

Pierrot Le Fou – released in 1965,  directed by Jean-Luc Godard, starring Anna Karina and Jean-Paul Belmondo.    An unhappy, recently fired married man escapes his boring society and travels from Paris to the Mediterranean Sea with  a girl chased by hit-men from Algeria. They lead an unorthodox life, always on the run.

À Bout De Souffle (Breathless, Literal Translation Is “At Breath’s End”) – released in 1960, directed by Jean-Luc Godard, and starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg.  This film helped launch French New Wave.  A young hoodlum steals a car and heads for Paris, shooting a cop on the way. In Paris, he meets an aspiring journalist who agrees to hide him while he tries to trace a former associate who owes him money so that he can evade the police dragnet and make a break for Italy.

De Battre Mon Coeur S’est Arête (The Beat That My Heart Skipped) – Released in 2005, directed by Jacques Audiard and starring Romain Duris.  A real estate thug is torn between a criminal life compete with thuggish father and his desire to become a concert pianist.

Nikita (La Femme Nikita) – Released in 1990, directed by Luc Besson, and starring Anne ParillaudJean-Hugues Anglade, and Tchéky Karyo.  Convicted felon Nikita, is broken out of jail, given a new identity and trained, stylishly, as a top secret spy/assassin.

Courtesy of Alter Films, Canal+ and Fidélité Productions

Anthony Zimmer – released in 2005, directed by Jérôme Salle and starring Sophie MarceauYvan Attal, and Sami Frey.  A highly intelligent criminal is pursued by international police and the Russian mafia.  He has extensive plastic surgery rendering him unrecognizable, even to his girlfriend, who enlists the help of an unsuspecting stranger on a train to foil those trailing him and embroiling him in the action.

Cartoon/Animated

Les Triplettes De Belleville (The Triplets of Belleville) – Released in 2003 and directed by Sylvain Chomet.  We saw and liked this film in the US when it was first released.  It tells the story of  elderly woman who goes on a quest to rescue her grandson, the Tour de France cycling champion, who was kidnapped by the French mafia for gambling purposes and taken to the city of Belleville. She is joined by the Triplets of Belleville, 1930’s lounge singers.

Courtesy of Les Armateurs, Production Champion and Vivi Film

TV

Kaamelott is a French television series running originally 2005–2009.  Combining medieval fantasy and comedy, it presents a new “realistic epic” version of the Arthurian legend.

Panique Au Village (A Town Called Panic) – Released in 2000, it is a puppetoon series.

 

Switzerland’s Film Locations

Courtesy of United Artists
The last two movies we saw (Sherlock Holmes 2 and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) both had scenes set in Switzerland.  It got me thinking about movies that were set in and/or filmed in Switzerland.
Courtesy of MGM Studios
  • The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – Although it is set in Sweden, this movie visits Switzerland. Without giving the plot away, banks are involved (get ready for a theme here).
Courtesy of Warner Brothers
Some movies are filmed in Switzerland and/or are set there because of its rugged, natural, almost unbelievable beauty.  Such movies include:
View from Grindelwald, not to be confused with Gimmelwald
Courtesy of Dor Film-West Produktionsgesellschaft
  • North Face – This German film is a suspenseful adventure based on the true story of the competition to climb the most dangerous rock face in the Alps, the north face of the Eiger.
The Eiger
Courtesy of New Line Cinema
The large number of international organizations here figure in some plots.  These movies include:
  • Angels and Demons – The movie starts at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, CERN, which is located on the outskirts of Geneva.
Tom Hanks, Rachel Weisz and Ron Howard in front of CERN, Courtesy of Atlas E-News
Warner Brothers
  • Syriana – Scenes from this political thriller were filmed at the iconic Geneva hotel, Hotel President Wilson.
Warner Brothers
This looks like the lake nearby.  The green benches are very Geneva.
Although Switzerland technically remained neutral during WWII, it was still greatly affected by the war. Several movies filmed in Switzerland depicting that era are:
HBO
  • The Miracle of Bern – Set at the 1954 World Cup in Bern, this portrait of post-WWII Germany tells the story of a young boy, his ex-POW father and the unexpected victory of the West German soccer team.
20th Century Fox
  • The Sound of Music – While the Sound of Music is rightfully associated with Salzburg, Austria the last shot of the movie is the Von Trapp’s climbing over the alps into Switzerland.
Courtesy of American Zoetrope
  • Youth Without Youth – This Francis Ford Coppola movie is set in pre-WWII Europe and features a professor.  It gets a bit crazy from there.

Several movies have characters visiting bankers here:

  • The Informant – The US Government goes after agribusiness price-fixing with their informant witness.  Guess who has to go visit some bankers in Zürich?  He’s walking past city hall on his way.
  • The Bourne Identity – Matt Damon (yep, he’s in Switzerland once again) as Jason Bourne goes to visit some Swiss Bankers in Zürich.
Courtesy of Fox Warner
Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
  • X-Men First Class – A character goes to Switzerland to interrogate of the keepers of Nazi Gold.  Although I’m not sure smart is the right word to describe this movie, we’ll still file it under banks.
The James Bond Franchise loves filming in Switzerland. At least 5 James Bond movies have been filmed in Switzerland. They include:
  • Goldeneye -The opening sequence was filmed in the Italian part of Switzerland, near Lugano in Cugnasco and Gerdola.  In the movie, James Bond jumps from Contra Dam.
Courtesy of MGM
  • Goldfinger – Our favorite British spy chases Goldfinger’s Rolls Royce around the Swiss Alps through the Furka Pass (near Andermatt).
  • A View to a Kill – Yet another chase scene through the alps.  This one is at Vadretta di Scerscen Inferiore, in the Italian portion of Switzerland.

  • The Spy Who Loved Me – The opening ski sequence was filmed in Switzerland (Graubauden, St. Moritz).
Courtesy of MGM

Some famous people have lived in or hail from Switzerland  As a result, several movies about their lives and work have been filmed here.  They include:

  • Rowing with the Wind – Lord Byron, Percy and Mary Shelley came to Switzerland as romantics enamored of the dramatic scenery.  While living near Geneva, Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein.  This film is based on that period.

  • Charlie Chaplin was forced to leave the US during the McCarthy era and moved to Vevey, Switzerland.  His biopic starring Robert Downey Jr., Chaplin, filmed here.
Courtesy of Caroicao Pictures 
Courtesy H. R. Geiger Bar
  •  H.R. Giger’s Sanctuary – H.R. Geiger, the creator the Alien movies is from Gruyeres, Switzerland.  He has an amazing, visually intriguing cafe and museum in the town.  The movie features them.

A few books have been turned into movies set in Swtizerland.

  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being – This Milan Kundera novel was adapted for the big screen and was nominated for two Oscars.  It centers around the Prague Spring stars Daniel Day Lewis and Juliette Binoche.  A scene was filmed on the Mt. Blanc Bridge in Geneva.  We cross that bridge regularly.
Courtesy of MGM