Magazine article Variety

Locations Conjure Bohemian Rhapsody for Foreign Shoots

Magazine article Variety

Locations Conjure Bohemian Rhapsody for Foreign Shoots

Article excerpt

Czech locales have been fully booked throughout the past year, with international features and TV series such as Amazon's "Carnival Row" continuing to roll in, while indie projects such as Daisy Ridley vehicle "Ophelia" have incorporated the country's remarkable Bohemian settings.

The latter project, a Hamlet retelling from the point of view of the love interest whom Shakespeare relegated to the role of his most poignant victim, was filmed in Czech castles and sylvan river valleys in addition to recreating the court of Elsinore at Prague's Barrandov Studio.

Co-starring with Naomi Watts as Queen Gertrude and Clive Owen as Claudius, Ridley's Ophelia manages to parry court intrigues far better than the lovesick, doomed version of her character known to readers up to now. The production chose to set up shop in the Czech Republic in part because of its fairytale looks and relative affordability, but also because of the incredible craftsmanship of crews, who were able to create a medieval castle set in short order, incorporating remarkable authenticity and detail, says the film's producer.

"We wanted to be sure it has that look and feel of authenticity and scope and scale and beauty because it is an interesting period of time, taking advantage of the amazing locations in the Czech Republic and having a great art department," says Paul Hanson of Covert Media.

"Ophelia" director Claire McCarthy concurs. "Shooting in Prague strongly influenced the aesthetic of the film. We had the privilege to film in some incredible high Gothic locations that are both beautiful and perfect for our setting and story."

Local crews also hit the ground running on a tight schedule, McCarthy says. "The Czech team worked beautifully with our international heads of department. I'm very, very excited about the level of detail, texture and love that our team contributed to the world of our movie."

The film, which premiered at Sundance, has served as an evocative calling card for the Czech Republic's growing appeal for medium-budget films, showing they can achieve production values normally reserved for outings with far bigger budgets.

"Carnival Row," with deeper pockets, has also managed to wring solid value out of its Czech shoot, filming eight episodes in the Legendary Television project for Amazon, produced by Orlando Bloom.

The murder investigation story is set in a fantasy world resembling Victorian London in which mythical creatures form an underclass; Bloom's character, police inspector RycroftPhilostrate, must investigate the murder of a faerie showgirl before strife breaks out. The series, which is Bloom's first major smallscreen role, is set for release on Amazon in 2019.

Fantasy worlds, along with period sets of the kind created recently for Sky Atlantic and Amazon's ancient Rome drama series "Britannia" and Maltese crusader tale "Knightfall," shot for History, remain a Czech strong suit, with veteran, non-union crews demonstrating a wide breadth of technical mastery, speed and flair for historic detail.

The steady stream of series shoots also continues, most recently with the eight-episode reboot of the 1981 hit film "Das Boot," set for release in Europe next year. It is directed by Austria's Andreas Prochaska, a veteran of German TV. The cast features James D'Arcy ("Dunkirk"), Lizzy Caplan ("Masters of Sex") and Vincent Kartheiser ("Mad Men"). …

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