Helmed by Jonathan Teplitzky, ‘The Railway Man’ is a war film that revolves around the life of a British officer named Eric Lomax (Colin Firth) who is taken prisoner by the Japanese in 1942 where he is made to work on the construction of the railway that connects Burma to Thailand until being rescued by the British army. Several decades later, Eric is leading a happy life with his wife Patti (Nicole Kidman) when he learns that the Japanese officer who tortured him back is still alive. He soon embarks upon a mission to confront him. The 2013 movie draws inspiration from Eric Lomax’s 1995 autobiographical novel.
With solid visuals, Teplitzky bombards the audience with a mixture of subdued and strong colors from bright greens that stand in stark contrast to the muted greys, to blues, and browns of 1980s England. The scenery suggests that for the protagonists, the past dominates the present. This genius of the imagery has left the audience wondering where this beautiful movie was filmed. Well, don’t fret as we have all the filming location details you’re looking for.
The Railway Man Filming Locations
The production of the film commenced on April 30, 2012, and spanned several locations across the world ranging from Scotland to Australia, Thailand, and England. Moreover, according to a few unconfirmed reports, a few scenes were likely shot in Dunedin, New Zealand as well. Let’s explore each of these magnificent locations in detail.
Various locations in Scotland were scouted to film ‘The Railway Man’. The villages of St. Monans and St. Andrews in the eastern corner of the Fife peninsula served as one of the filming locations. From Perth and Kinross, and North Berwick, Gilmerton House and Cockenzie House in East Lothian, to Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway in West Lothian and Edinburgh, the production crew traveled from one location to another to film the scenes as they actually happened. A short glimpse of Calton Hill in Edinburgh can also be seen when Eric returns home.
In the movie, Perth Railway Station in Scotland is used instead of Crewe Station. The former also doubled up as Edinburgh Waverley, the location where Eric races to catch Patty getting off her train. The Veterans Club in the movie is not in Berwick-Upon-Tweed but in the Royal British Legion building in Prestonpans. It was at the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway Station where the scenes of Eric sharing random trivia about trains and towns with Patti were shot.
The scenes featuring the couple’s marriage and Finlay’s funeral were shot in St. Monans Church in Fife. Moreover, Milsey Bay Beach in North Berwick can be seen many times throughout the movie. This is where Eric gets a flashback of the trauma and where he goes after coming back from Thailand.
On a windswept beach on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, which is situated in Berwick-Upon-Tweed, a town in Northumberland, England, Patti and Eric are seen enjoying each other’s company in the movie. It appears to be a really stunning place despite the weather!
The Royal Border Bridge’s majestic arches in Berwick-Upon-Tweed along the shores of the River Tweed are also shown in the film. Pertaining to this, Jonathan told Moveable Fest, “There’s something incredibly moving about that bridge in the mist and it’s such an incredible structure it almost looks stuck on, and to see this young boy really in a soldier’s uniform limping in front, it immediately conjures so many things that the film is about.” The Berwick-Upon-Tweed railway station is also one of the filming sites for the movie.
The majority of the movie is a flashback of Eric’s time as a POW and the torture he underwent by Takashi Nagase. A part of the filming location for these flashback scenes set in Thailand is actually Queensland where he was made to assist in the construction of the Thai-Burma Railway. The movie’s track-building scenes were filmed at the Workshops Rail Museum. Some exterior scenes were shot at the Fort Lytton National Park in Brisbane as well. ‘The Railway Man’ was filmed all across the Gold Coast, including the North Ipswich Railyards, with a base at the Village Roadshow Studios outside of Brisbane.
The River Kwai Bridge is a prominent tourist attraction in the Kanchanaburi province of Thailand. This is where the Japanese officers mistreated him, including the one where he confronts Nagase. There are military museums and exhibitions in the location today. Furthermore, the place where Eric Lomax takes his wife to show her where he was forced to work is the Hintok Cutting — Hellfire Pass in Thailand.
Talking about using a few real locations, Jonathan said, “When we were in Thailand, a lot of those scenes were filmed on what’s left of the Thai-Burma Railway, and when you’re dealing with a real story like this, just being in the real places, particularly when so much pain and suffering has occurred in them, you can palpably feel an atmosphere that in some ways reflects what went on there.”
He added, “It’s just a very strange atmosphere to describe, but it lends a great ear and air of authenticity — those scenes of the building of the railway are actually on the railway — so again it brings a visceral quality to the film that I think it wouldn’t otherwise have had.”
Read More: Is The Railway Man Based on a True Story?