Thursday, 13 April 2017

James Bond Locations: The Russia House - Barley's bar, Lisbon

James Bond Locations: The Russia House - Barley's bar, Lisbon: In 1991, Sean Connery starred in the spy thriller  The Russia House  based on a book by John le Carré .   The Russia House  is one of only...

Another scene "bagged" from the Russia House Movie

On a recent trip to London, I managed to "bag" another scene from the film The Russia House. 

Towards the end of the film, Barley Scott Blair (Sean Connery) and his American "business partner", Jack Henziger (Colin Stinton), host a business launch party in Moscow during a Book Fair.  In the film, the location of the "Potomac / Blair" party is not stated, nor is mentioned in the book - the reception takes place in "the mirrored room of an elderly mid-town hotel" in Moscow; however, there is a cut to a scene featuring Barley and Katya (Michelle Pfeiffer) on a balcony of the now demolished Hotel Rossiya - overlooking St Basil's cathedral and the Kremlin.  The interior shots of the party scene were filmed in the Reading & Writing Room of One Whitehall Place in London.

One Whitehall Place is located just off Whitehall on Victoria Embankment overlooking the River Thames towards the South Bank and London Eye.  It is a elegant Victorian building which host a number of function rooms ornate sculpted ceilings, glittering chandeliers and spectacular views over the River Thames , ideal for weddings, conferences and, of course, filming locations.  

Entering on the corner of Whitehall Place / Whitehall Court, where the brass plate at the entrance states that it is the National Liberal Club, you are faced with a grand circular marble staircase - the largest in London, I was reliably informed by a concierge.  The Reading & Writing Room is to be found at the top the staircase along an ornate, tiled corridor. 

It is not the only scene from The Russia House to have been filmed in London: here are a couple of others I have managed to find:

St Ermin's Hotel:
King Charles Street (off Whitehall):
Symons Street (off Sloane Square)

The Russia House - Lisbon Locations

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Who Are You in 1917?

To commemorate the 100th anniversary this year of the revolutions in Russia of 1917, the “1917. Free History” project enables participants to find out about the history of 1917 from those who lived during this defining moment of twentieth century history.  The project consists entirely of primary sources. All the texts used are taken from genuine documents written by historical figures: letters, memoirs, diaries and other documents of the period.

The site provides information in English and Russian.  There is an on-line test to find out who you might have been during this turbulent period of Russian history:

I've done the test, and apparently, in 1917, I was a reporter working for the newspaper "Pravda" ("Truth").

Boring Postcards USSR

Hotel Klyasma - Vladimir

The Calvert Journal recently featured the work of Italian photographer Marco Citron who has appropriated the aesthetics of vintage postcards to showcase the idiosyncratic architectural experiments of the Soviet era.

He started this project in 2007, and spent the next three years photographing architectural landscapes in eastern Europe.  Citron acknowledges that the idea was indebted to Martin Parr’s collection of published vintage postcards from the 1950s to the early 70s.

I have also been drawn to photographs of the UK's post-war urban developments, new housing, shopping centres, motorways & service stations.  Those bright, slightly overexposed, photographs celebrating the pristine splendour of contemporary architectural developments of the 50s, 60s and 70s - conveying a sense of the short-lived period of optimism of the period, the Brave New World of the future, before urban decay, stagnation, pollution, vandalism and ageing took its toll.

Growing up in the designated New Town of Washington during the 1970s, I find that they resonate with my memories of the urban environment  - the sense of newness, unblemished white concrete, the well-manicured and sparse feel of newly planted trees, shrubs and grass verges; the long motorway journeys on concrete roads or smooth jet black asphalt, and frequent stops at futuristic looking service stations along the way.  

Sevastopol, Crimea 1970s

These photographs are not a million miles from the sort of photographs which appeared "boring" postcard sets published in the Soviet Union covering the same period and beyond. As with the UK photos, they were usually taken by professional photographers, attempting to capture their subjects to the best of their ability - there is no hint of irony, humour, or lack of interest, which we might attribute to such postcards (or their creators) nowadays.