This is the first ever comprehensive guide to the history of movies filmed in Cumbria and the Lake District, since the early twentieth century to the present day. Presented in an entertaining and easy to access A-Z format, it will take you on a journey through the filmic landscape of one of the world's most beautiful places.
The book, part of the Cumbria Guide series, recounts the area's rich and absorbing film and social history alongside an assortment of hand-drawn maps, photographs and film stills. It is packed full of information on how to visit the breathtaking
scenery and locations where film history was made.
You will be able to immerse yourself in the lush green world where Star Wars created an alien landscape or take a trip around
Swallows and Amazons country, not to mention joining the ranks of Withnail and I pilgrims or sampling the nostalgic Brief Encounter tea rooms where a tiny piece of grit kick-started an enduring romance.
You, dear reader, ‘like film’. Your family are aware of this. You also have some sort of tenuous connection to the Lake District and/or Cumbria: you live, work or study there; you have passed through on the M6 over Shap on the way to somewhere else.
If you have even the remotest passing interest in the locations used in your favourite movies, it would be foolish to dismiss this book. It is astoundingly thorough. Some of the entries develop into short essays, such is the depth of detail contained within them – not merely about the locations used for filming, but about a film’s bigger place in the context of entertainment or even social history. All the well-known and expected favourites are here: Withnail and I, Miss Potter, Brief Encounter. So far, so mostly not genre. But this book covers a lot of ground; from Alien Blood, to the aforementioned Withnail via 28 Days Later and a quintet of Ken Russell films. Even included is a mention of Star Wars: The Force Awakens: apparently X-Wings fly very low over Thirlmere in one of the action sequences.
Included are Ordnance Survey Grid references, cited at the end of each film’s article, should you wish to visit the sites for yourself, and plainly the idea of this book is to encourage the reader to get to the area. There are hand-drawn maps, drawing your attention to the locations used to film several of the author’s particular favourite films.
After the A-Z section come entries on ‘Selected Cumbrian Cinemas’. This mentions most of the independent cinemas still operating in the area. All of them are gorgeous, small, intimate spaces, somehow still surviving against the onslaught of the chains. Finally, there is a run-down of Film Festivals running throughout the area. The content concludes with a list of Websites for more information. It is these last two sections that are going to be most subject to the ravages of time, and indeed the whole book has been written with something of a ‘right here, right now’ feel – mention is made of Star Wars Celebration happening in July 2016 – an event which has now come and gone.
Overall however, the main content of this book is so well researched that there is sure to be something here you will find interesting – the problem being that unless your tastes are very eclectic, there will be much you skim past.
Anne Davies, for Starburst Magazine, November 2016
CUMBRIAN landscape is acknowledged the world over as some of the most dramatic and beautiful on this planet – but less well recognised is its starring role in numerous films over the past 70 years. From the latest Star Wars movie to gems like Swallows and Amazons or black comedy Withnail & I, film-makers have braved every adversity that Cumbrian weather can produce, weaving its spectacular scenery into a wide variety of genres incorporating: adventure, comedy and romance to thrillers, sci-fi, and horror. Yet the scene-stealing role of Cumbrian landscape has been somewhat under-played until now.
However, a new book by David Banning, An A-Z of Cumbria and the Lake District on Film, is set to put Cumbria’s name up in lights. Around 60 films feature Cumbrian locations, and considering it took David almost three years to track down, view and research them all, it’s not surprising this is the first truly definitive guide.
However, the wealth of detail about the people and places involved make it more like a treasure trove of memorabilia.
Trawling through various sources online made it all possible, while directors, producers and local people were only too pleased to reminisce about the stars and adventure of film-making. Hand-drawn maps of the filmic landscape by local poet and artist Eileen Pun, a distinctive cover design by Paul McGeoch, together with an entertaining foreword by one of the original Swallows & Amazons stars, Sophie Neville, should make this book a cinema classic in its own right.
David’s background includes time at prestigious galleries in both London and Cumbria, whilst working in the music industry before then. In between he developed a strong affection for the Lake District, which merged to become a fascination for films containing Cumbrian footage.
“I hope it encourages people to look at the landscape differently, while promoting it to visitors in a new way,” David said. “In the earliest pieces of film, there was ground-breaking footage of climbers on the exposed crags. Nowadays, you have Hollywood blockbusters creating alien landscapes, intimate family portraits like Tom Browne’s Radiator or Terry Abraham’s mountain homages.”
The book also features classics like Brief Encounter and The Dam Busters from the ’40s and ’50s onwards followed by Across The Lake, about water-speed ace Donald Campbell, and two adaptations of Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons.
The 1980s brought The French Lieutenant’s Woman, while leading film-maker Ken Russell’s contribution to his so-called ‘magical’ area is underlined. Intriguingly, the book reveals how many directors preferred out-of-the-way locations, away from tourist crowds, and each one comes with helpful OS map references.
“If I have a personal favourite, it’s the timeless Withnail and I,” David said, which is shown annually in situ at Sleddale Hall, or Crow Crag as it is better known to fans of the cult classic. David’s book is a celebration of social history and landscape, a must-have for film fans, and a novel guide to discovering less frequented gems of Cumbria. Will it inspire ‘on location’ themed tours? “Why not – they do it for Harry Potter!” said David. Westmorland Gazette, November 2016
There are countless books covering aspects of the most beautiful corner of England but none which reveal little known facts regarding it as a location for filming. David thoroughly and interestingly brings to light the great number of films both large
and small that have featured Lakeland on camera.
Some less obvious than others but no less absorbing, you may well wish to seek out and visit where productions have captured
the scenic delights of Lakeland. David's book is an engaging and enlightening read and definitely one for the shelf alongside other
works celebrating England's finest landscape. Terry Abraham, filmmaker and photographer
David has spent the last ten years or so at some of the most prestigious museums and galleries in both London and Cumbria, whilst working in the Music Industry before then. He graduated from Goldsmiths College, University of London with a BA in History of Art, and still hopes to complete a Masters degree in Lake District Landscape studies at Lancaster University.
When he is not writing or watching films he can usually be found daydreaming on a hill somewhere…
Cover design, Paul McGeoch, www.paulmcgeoch.com; cover font, Daniel Hochard, Imagex Fonts; maps by Eileen Pun