Although modern movie making is a thoroughly global affair, it hasn’t stopped the world’s top filmmakers from using a few instantly recognisable symbols. These act to add a touch of local flavour, making us feel at home in a massive range of movie locations from the neon casino lights of Las Vegas to the exotic pleasures of a Chinese drinking den.
Yellow Taxis in New York
New York is one of the most instantly recognisable places on our movie screens and there’s few quicker ways for a director to illustrate this location than by casually featuring one of the city’s big yellow taxis, most memorably seen in the magnificent 1976 movie Taxi Driver.
Neon Lights of Las Vegas
America’s fascination with neon lights has helped casino cities like Las Vegas become fixtures on the movie-makers map with the lurid charms of the city being amply displayed in movies as far ranging as dark drama Leaving Las Vegas to lighthearted comedy The Hangover and fast-paced heist adventure Ocean’s Eleven.
Chinese Dragon Motifs
Away from Hollywood, there’s plenty of other location-specific motifs that keep cropping up. China has always had a special regard for the dragon which has been perfectly used in the opening scene of Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and it can even be found on the Dragon’s Luck slots game that sits amongst some of the newest online offerings at the Casino Euro gaming website.
Big Red British Buses
Closer to home, London has gained its recognisable place on the map thanks to the welcome smattering of red double-decker buses that have appeared in many Brit-friendly movies like Notting Hill. And with red buses appearing in a pivotal scene in the upcoming Bridget Jones movie, it’s a motif that’s going to vanish anytime soon.
Italian Dining Tables
The massive dining table is a central part of any scene concerning a warring Italian family that’s found its home in plenty of gangster films and made a welcome iconic reappearance in Tilda Swinton’s I Am Love movie.
French Chic Cafes
The delightful cafes of Paris are perfect places for all manner of unlikely events whether they be a dance scene in Jean-Luc Godard’s Bande À Part to the now-famous Cafe des Deux Moulins that served as a suitable backdrop for 2001’s Amélie.
The grey skies of Scandinavia are something that’s found a lot of currency in the 21st century with the neo-gothic thrill of gloomy weather providing the perfect amount of subtle drama for the noirish-likes of 1996’s The Hunters.
The vibrant metropolis of Tokyo has helped many filmmakers ramp up the production values with the skyline featuring in Kill Bill: Volume One and making Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation all the more alienating.
The wide open spaces of the Mexican desert has played a big part in helping Robert Rodriguez’ movies like Desperado gain an extra level of authenticity in a way that’s etched the arid landscape on the minds of many movie audiences.
Cameras and Camels
And finally what better way for a director to signify that they are in the Middle East than by using a camel or two. It’s a trick that’s worked in an endless series of movies from the Indiana Jones trilogy to The Mummy, GI Joe and even The Dictator!