Dorset - classic movie locations
Dorset is a small but beautiful county on the south coast of England. Its dramatic scenery has for a long time inspired movie makers and directors, and provides a wonderful backdrop for a great selection of classic films.
Some of the following you would expect to have been shot on location in Dorset, particularly the Thomas Hardy adaptations, but there may be one or two surprises here too. Read on for a selection of the best.
Far From the Madding Crowd
The classic 1967 film of Thomas Hardy's novel was directed by John Schlesinger with cinematography by Nicholas Roeg. It starred Julie Christie as the lady farmer Bathsheba Everdene, with Terence Stamp, Peter Finch and Alan Bates as her three potential suitors.
The film was shot mainly on location in rural Dorset, with exquisite cinematography showing off some of the best of the county, featuring scenes from Abbotsbury, Bere Regis, Blackmoor Vale, Dorchester, Durdle Door, Maiden Castle, Shaftsbury and Weymouth.
More Thomas Hardy films
The Scarlet Tunic, 1997, was shot almost entirely on location in and around West Dorset.
Various made for tv adaptations of Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles have been filmed in and around Dorset, but the major Roman Polanski movie "Tess" was disappointingly all filmed in France.
The French Lieutenant's Woman
This film was adapted from the book of the same name by John Fowles, and was set in the town of Lyme Regis, where the author lived for several years.
With a screenplay by Harold Pinter, directed by Karel Reisz and starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons, the film is a two-stranded story of both the novel, set in 19th century England, and of the (fictional) relationship in the present time, between the two actors while they are filming.
Meryl Streep is the French Lieutenant's woman - a young woman who takes a job as a lady's companion after being deserted by her lover. She suffers from severe melancholy and spends much of her spare time gazing out to sea from the Cobb (the harbour wall) at Lyme Regis, waiting for him to return. Jeremy Irons is the scientist, staying in the town to study the local fossils, who takes a personal interest in the young lady.
This could only have been filmed on location in Lyme Regis, the pretty harbour town on the south-west coast of Dorset, helping to give the film its evocative feel and setting the scene for another movie classic.
The 1996 tv movie of Gulliver's Travels, was an all-star adaptation of the novel by Jonathan Swift, and starred Ted Danson as Gulliver with Mary Steenbergen as his wife.
The film features some of Dorset's most dramatic coastline between Bridport and Lyme Regis. When Gulliver awakes in Lilliput he is shown lying on the edge of a large cliff at West Bay, as shown in the photo below.
The 1995 film adaptation of Jane Austen's Persuasion is filmed on location between Bath in Somerset, and Lyme Regis in Dorset. This film was directed by Roger Michell (who also directed Notting Hill) and starred Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds.
In a famous scene from the film one of the ladies falls (accidentally on purpose) from the harbour wall at Lyme Regis, into the arms of her desired suitor, and the resulting injury means that she has to have an extended stay in the town.
It is beautifully filmed and is the best adaptation of this novel, which is a typical Jane Austen plot of romance, marriage opportunities and social climbing - all with a hint of satirical irony.
The 2010 film Tamara Drewe is a modern day classic British comedy, and was based on the novel by Posy Simmonds.
Based in the fictional Dorset village of "Ewedown" it tells the story of a young woman returning to her childhood home after leaving and becoming a successful journalist. Her appearance in the village stirs up all sorts of feelings from the past and the present, and gives rise to an unexpected series of humorous, passionate and tragic consequences.
It is, of course filmed in the beautiful countryside of west Dorset, amongst the rural farmland and pretty villages.
It stars Gemma Arterton as Tamara, with a great British supporting cast, and was directed by Stephen Frears, best known for Dangerous Liaisons and his biopic The Queen.
The Boat that Rocked
The Boat that Rocked (known as Pirate Radio in the US) was a 2007 British film by director Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Notting Hill etc.)
It was filmed in and around the Isle of Portland, near Weymouth, and tells the story of British Pirate radio in the 1960s. It is a light-hearted comedy, following the exploits of a group of young independent radio disc jockeys who broadcast their radio shows from a boat moored offshore to avoid licensing laws.
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