Big Ben - on the Screen

A visual history of London's Big Ben as depicted in the movies.

One of Britain's most famous tourist attractions. Big Ben started working in May 1859. The name "Big Ben" is actually the name of the giant bell in the belfry of the clock tower. The bell weighs nearly 14 tons. The bell is struck by a hammer from the outside. The clock's official name is 'The Great Westminster Clock'. It is accurate within one second. The clock tower is 316ft high. The tower has no elevator, there are 334 limestone steps to the top. The clock tower was named 'The Elizabeth Tower' in 2012 to honour the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

Peter Pan
Peter Pan
Peter Pan
Peter Pan

Walt Disney's classic animated adaptation of Peter Pan (1953) featured Peter, Wendy and co briefly stopping at Big Ben before flying off to Never Never Land.

Mary Poppins
Mary Poppins

Disney's magical musical Mary Poppins (1964). Here Mary is floating above the city with her umbrella.

The Great Mouse Detective
The Great Mouse Detective
Great Mouse Detective
Great Mouse Detective

More Disney and the climax to The Great Mouse Detective (1986) takes place inside Big Ben.

The scenes inside the clock tower contains some of the first uses of CGI in a Disney animated film. Vincent Price provides the voice of the villain Professor Ratigan.

London Films screen logo
London Films screen logo

London Films produced many film classics including The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933), Things to Come (1936), The Four Feathers (1939). The Thief of Baghdad (1940) and The Third Man (1949).

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

London stood still, a demonstration of Klaatu's power in the sci-fi classic The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951).

Dr. Who
Dr. Who

Here's one for Dr. Who fans, the Daleks touring London. Not sure if this is from a film, episode or a publicity photo.

Konga
Konga

No it's not King Kong and Fay Wray on holiday in London, it's Kong's British cousin Konga carrying actor Michael Gough who does not look happy at all in this shot from Konga (1961).

Gorgo
Gorgo

After Konga left Gorgo arrived and destroyed Big Ben, Gorgo loves knocking down London landmarks, a few minutes earlier it sat on Tower Bridge until it collapsed. It was later spotted peeing on Nelson's Column, and the army had to be called in. Gorgo (1961).

George Lazenby
George Lazenby

George Lazenby as James Bond posing in front of Big Ben. A publicity shot for On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969).

The 39 Steps (1978)
The 39 Steps (1978)

Robert Powell hanging on for dear life on the clock face. A scene from the 1978 version of The 39 Steps, directed by Don Sharp and also starring David Warner and John Mills.

Young Sherlock Holmes
Young Sherlock Holmes

Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) Holmes (Nicolas Rowe) and Watson (Alan Cox) chase after the villain in Professor Waxflatter's flying machine, and of course passing Big Ben along the way.

Mars Attacks
Mars Attacks
Mars Attacks
Mars Attacks

Ack! Ack! Ack! Martian invaders target Big Ben in Tim Burton's Mars Attacks! (1996)

Army of Darkness
Army of Darkness

Bruce Campbell as Ash, in the alternate UK finale to Sam Raimi's Army of Darkness (1993), finds himself in a post-apocalyptic future and what looks like London after Gorgo and Konga finished playing with it.

The Avengers (1998)
The Avengers (1998)
The Avengers (1998)
The Avengers (1998)
The Avengers (1998)
The Avengers (1998)

Sean Connery as Sir August de Wynter blowing up Big Ben with his weather control machine in the disastrous The Avengers (1998) a big screen version of the fondly remembered tv series. Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman star as John Steed and Emma Peel.

Reign of Fire
Reign of Fire

London destroyed by dragons in the sci-fi adventure Reign of Fire (2002) which starred Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey. Unfortunately the movie poster was more exciting than the film itself, but the dragons looked fierce.

Shanghai Knights
Shanghai Knights

Owen Wilson and Jackie Chan hanging about on Big Ben in Shanghai Knights (2003).

V for Vendetta
V for Vendetta
V for Vendetta
V for Vendetta
V for Vendetta
V for Vendetta

"Remember, remember the 5th of November, the gunpowder treason and plot.

I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot."

Natalie Portman as Evey watches as Westminster and Big Ben get blown up in the excellent comic book adaptation V for Vendetta (2006). Which also starred Hugo Weaving as V.

A Christmas Carol (2009) poster
A Christmas Carol (2009) poster

Jim Carrey in A Christmas Carol (2009) A computer animated fantasy directed by Robert Zemeckis.

Sherlock Holmes - A Game of Shadows (2011) poster
Sherlock Holmes - A Game of Shadows (2011) poster

Sherlock Holmes - A Game of Shadows (2011) starring Robert Downey Jr as Sherlock Holmes and Jude Law as Dr. Watson. Directed by Guy Ritchie.

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Comments 17 comments

FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

I've seen Peter Pan, Mary Poppins, The Day the Earth Stood Still, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and Mars Attacks! (I can never get back the time I spent on this film). I am not sure why I haven't seen The Great Mouse Detective as I was 10 when it came out. But I don't even remember hearing of this movie.

I'm not sure whether my favourite of these films is Mary Poppins or The Day the Earth Stood still. I have to pick Mary Poppins over Peter Pan, though I love it as well. I can still enjoy Mary Poppins on its own merits, but Peter Pan I only watch when I am interested in nostalgia.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia

Another winning hub, good to see a London landmark being destroyed so many times versus the amount of times The White House has been blown up. I have seen Reign of Fire many times but had never noticed Big Ben before this hub.

I see you were able to include lots of science fiction movies into this hub as well....I really like the Dr. Who photo as well as Konga and Gorgo having fun with Ben.

I have never seen Army of Darkness but I find it really interesting that Ash has gone from the cabin in the woods to a destroyed London....maybe I will have to check that movie out...I really like this hubs as I try to think of movies that have the landmark and then 99% of the time you have the movie listed as I read the hub....voted up and awesome and interesting.


princesswithapen profile image

princesswithapen 4 years ago

Steve

It gives goosebumps to think that Big Ben has been used in the movies ever since mainstream movies came into print, and is still being used today. Nice hub, and a great collection of pictures that all movie buffs can relate to.

Princesswithapen


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Flora, Cogerson, princesswithapen, thank you for the comments, they are very much appreciated.

Flora, trying to choose between Poppins and Klaatu? I am surprised knowing you're not a sci-fi fan and a big musical fan, Day Earth Stood Still must be your fave sci-fi movie then?

Cogerson, heh heh poor Big Ben seems to be an easy target, I just realised its higher than the Statue of Liberty and its pedestal? The Statue looks huge in films but if you placed it without the pedestal next to Big Ben and Westminster it will look comparitively small.

I'm glad you enjoy these hubs, they are fun to compile, biggest problem is finding the right pictures. I've done three in a row time for a break, but I will do more.

princesswithapen, it does look like Big Ben more than any other landmark represents London and it's instantly recognisable too.

There was one image I left out and should have included and that was the logo for London Films, the company that produced, Things to Come, Thief of Baghdad, The Third Man etc MGM has Leo the lion, Paramount the mountain, Universal the world and London Films what else? Big Ben. :)

I think I'll add it to the hub, feel guilty now.


Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 4 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

This hub is a win,

With a films view of Big Ben.;-))

Impressive as always Steve.;-))


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Thanks Acer, much appreciated. Poetic as always, though it would have been even better if it had ended "Steven" instead of Steve. ;-)


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

I think I would choose The Wrath of Khan as my favourite Science Fiction film with The Day The Earth Stood Still at number two. I do indeed love this movie.

And yes, I like your inclusion of the movie logo. Imagine doing a hub on movie cats and not including Leo the Lion...


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Hi, Flora, so I've written hubs on both of your favourite sci-fi films and in a few days time I'll be finishing a hub on your favourite Hitchcock film.

I've started work on 6 Illustrated Reference hubs simultaneously (theres a word!) and one of them I think is Cogerson's favourite movie.


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

Looking forward to Rear Window!


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia

6 hubs at once? Wow when I do two at the same time I normally do not feel like writing anything for a week or more....if I did 6 at once I probably would take a month or two off from hubpages. I would have guessed you were working on all 6 Star Wars movies but I do not think Hitchcock directed any of the Star Wars movies...but I could be mistaken...looking forward to the end result of all your work.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Hello Cogerson. No not Star Wars, not yet. 6 different films. I wanted to try it this way so I would be forced to finish each one. Sometimes I start one hub and when I complete it a day or two later I just can't be bothered to do anymore, sheer lazyness. And some people make a living out of this? :)

I did enjoy these "in the Movies" hubs. I have about 50 or 60 more planned in the coming weeks.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia

Well I am guessing two of them will be The Great Escape and Rear Window....they should be interesting....and good luck finishing the 6 of them.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Ha ha was The Great Escape your favourite film? You didn't mention that in my Great Escape hub or did you? Okay my next hub will be one of your favourite films and a bit more recent. :)


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia

Sorry I got confused....especially since you have already done a Great Escape hub. Can't seem to think straight on this very hectic week in the world of Cogerson(wow now I am going third person...lol). So then I will make another guess....since it is not Star Wars or Great Escape....I will go with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid or A Bridge Too Far or the reason I like movies so much...Raiders of the Lost Ark.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Well it's one of those. I did not know you're such a big fan of Butch Cassidy or A Bridge Too Far, I would have guessed Good the Bad and the Ugly and Bridge on the River Kwai going by your hub comments. And wow that narrows it down a bit. :)


Greensleeves Hubs profile image

Greensleeves Hubs 4 years ago from Essex, UK

It's amazing Big ben is still standing after all these attacks by terrorists, mad scientists, monsters and aliens! Maybe it's just a pre-fabricated copy which they just keep putting up after every disaster?

It is something of a cliché I suppose; make a film about London, and you just have to have red double-decker buses, black taxis and Big Ben. It's not allowed not to have these icons of London.

Of the films mentioned, my favourite would be 'The Day the Earth Stood Still'.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

It's a favourite of mine too Greensleeves. Don't the buses look odd in that shot? They look like suitcases. :)

Thanks for popping in.

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