Directed by Chris Weitz, ‘The Golden Compass’ is a fantasy movie based on Philip Pullman’s 1995 eponymous novel, also known as ‘Northern Lights.’ The book is the first part of the writer’s ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy. The film is set on an alternate Earth, where a part of every person’s inner spirit exists outsides their bodies in the shape of an animal called a dæmon. Lyra Belacqua (Dakota Blue Richards) is an orphan who lives at Jordan College. Her uncle, Lord Asriel (Daniel Craig), is often absent from her life, researching the Dust, a cosmic particle that the Magisterium does not like being mentioned.
Lyra meets Mrs. Coulter (Nicole Kidman), a self-acclaimed friend of the college, who asks the girl to stay with her in London. Before she leaves, the Master of the college (Jack Shepherd) gives her Asriel’s alethiometer, a compass-like device that has been forbidden by the Magisterium. ‘The Golden Compass’ is a visual treat, with beautiful backdrops that enchant the viewers. Naturally, many cannot help but wonder where the film was shot. If you wish to find out more as well, here’s everything we can tell you.
The Golden Compass Filming Locations
‘The Golden Compass’ was filmed across England, including Oxford, Surrey, Westminster, and London. Several scenes were shot in Kanton Bern in Switzerland, Budapest in Hungary, and Norway. Toronto, Ontario, was also used to lens scenes for the movie. Principal photography began on September 4, 2006, and wrapped up in January 2007. Now, let’s take a closer look at the details of the filming locations.
A major portion of ‘The Golden Compass’ is set in the colleges in Oxford, so naturally, the production crew decided to tape scenes in the city of Oxford. Several scenes were shot in Christ Church College at Saint Aldate’s, along with the Christ Church Meadow set on the banks of Thames River. Other colleges visible in the adventure film include Exeter College on Turl Street, Worcester College on Walton Street, and The Queen’s College on High Street.
Bodleian Library, Broad Street, one of the most prominent libraries in Oxford, was used to capture scenes for the Daniel Craig starrer. Duke Humfrey’s Library is the oldest reading room there and can be seen in the film. The scenes set in the Jordan College were framed in The Divinity School. Characters were also portrayed on the streets near the fictional college using Radcliffe Square and Brasenose Lane. Other locations featured in Oxford used in the movie include Pitt-Rivers Museum on Parks Road and Randolph Hotel on Beaumont Street.
The county of Surrey served as a prominent production spot for ‘The Golden Compass.’ Several scenes in the movie were lensed in Shepperton Studios, a film studio at Studios Road, Shepperton. Moreover, Bourne Woods is woodland to the south of the town of Farnham that was used as another backdrop in the Chris Weitz directorial. Other movies lensed in Surrey include ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness‘ and ‘The Batman.’
London, the capital of the United Kingdom, was used to film scenes for ‘The Golden Compass.’ One of the most prominent production locations is Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. The Painted Hall in King William Court can be seen in the film as well. Another location from Greenwich which was used as a backdrop in the adventure movie is Crowley’s Wharf on the banks of Thames River. The scenes showing Mrs. Coulter’s carriage through the streets were shot at Chester Terrace in Regent’s Park. Chiswick House, in Chiswick, was also used to frame scenes for the fantasy film.
Other Locations in England
Several other locations in England can be seen in ‘The Golden Compass.’ The historic Park Lane Hotel, AKA Sheraton Grand London Park Lane, on Piccadilly in Mayfair, Westminster, was used in the Nicole Kidman starrer. The artistic location was used to film scenes set in the restaurant and the beauty parlor. Cross Keys Bridge in Spalding is a swing bridge between Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire used as a backdrop. The interiors of Hedsor House & Park, Taplow, Buckinghamshire, can also be seen in the movie. Scenes set in the fictional port of Trollesund were shot in The Historic Dockyard Chatham in Chatham, Kent.
The production team of ‘The Golden Compass’ lensed scenes in Toronto, Ontario. Specifically, the filming took place in Brookfield Place, formerly known as BCE Place, located at 181 Bay Street. Other movies lensed in the complex include ‘Tommy Boy’ and ‘Dracula 2000.’
Kanton Bern, Switzerland
The picturesque Swiss canton of Berne was used as a backdrop in ‘The Golden Compass.’ Multiple action sequences were lensed in the village of Grindelwald. The beautiful region provided a fantastical atmosphere to the scenes and amped up the supernatural factor. Grindelwald has been used to lens scenes for other movies like ‘Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith’ and ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.’
Filming of ‘The Golden Compass’ took place in the Hungarian capital city of Budapest. The historic city has several buildings with beautiful architecture that provide the retro feel needed for the fantasy film. Budapest has been a popular filming spot over the years, and the TV series ‘Moon Knight‘ and the movie ‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.’
Several scenes in ‘The Golden Compass’ were framed in Norway. The bustling city of Bergen in Hordaland on Norway’s west coast was used to lens the movie. Meanwhile, the freezing landscape of the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard was used to capture scenes set in the polar regions of the fictional earth from the fantasy film.
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