Brad Pitt’s Allied filmed in UK and Canary Islands
Filmmaker Robert Zemeckis and actors Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard used the UK as a production base for the Second World War movie Allied, but also filmed scenes on location in the Canary Islands.
Set in 1942, the movie tells the story of a Canadian intelligence officer who falls in love with a French Resistance fighter, only to learn she may be spying for the Germans.
Zemeckis is renowned for embracing the technical side of filmmaking and for Allied he chose to use a complex blend of location work, studio set builds and digital effects to create the story’s wartime 1940s settings.
“Visual effects allowed us to create a scope on this film that could not have existed without it,” said Zemeckis.
“No-one could afford to build all that we have portrayed in this movie without digital tools. We’re at a point now that you can do absolutely anything with VFX. We could recreate the cities of Europe and North Africa in the 1940s and do it without facing an impossible amount of building.”
Nearly 80 different sets were built for the film and the Gillette Building in west London was a central resource for the production team.
Location filming also took place in Camden and Southwark, with logistical assistance from FilmFixer, an organisation that manages filming in 13 London boroughs.
Key sequences in the story take place in the Moroccan city of Casablanca, which in 1942 was administered by the government of Vichy France.
These scenes were in fact filmed in London and on Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands, partly because Casablanca no longer has the look or romanticism of the wartime era.
A visual effects unit from the Allied production team did, however, travel to Casablanca to laser-scan a selection of historically-suitable rooftops.
These were then inserted as background plate shots for specific scenes in the finished film.
“We wanted our film to evoke the Casablanca that we already know from the classic [film] Casablanca – and that’s really how it was at that time,” Zemeckis said. “It was a very elegant, stylish, sophisticated city at the crossroads of the war.”
London remains one of the most popular filming locations in the world, partly because of the UK’s generous tax credit support for big-budget movies and high-end TV productions.
While Morocco was ultimately not filmed for Allied, it remains one of the top international filming spots in Africa. The country is a regular double for Middle Eastern countries and earlier this year launched its first formal filming incentive.
Images: Daniel Smith/Paramount Pictures