The London List Part I: Ten favorite scenes set in London

The 16-day 2012 London Olympics is coming to an end today. For some of you, it’s certainly been quite an exhilarating two weeks of watching and championing for the athletes you’re rooting for in various sports. I haven’t been following the event at all other than watching the opening & closing ceremony, but since I LOVE the city of London and they have done a splendid job hosting the biggest sports event in the world, I thought I’d create a list in their honor. [I’ve now added a Britastic tag for all my UK-related posts]

So for this particular posts, I want to highlight ten of my favorite scenes set in London. Stay tuned for the favorite actors posts up tomorrow!

Notting Hill Changing Seasons

Well, since Fall is just around the corner, I particularly LOVE this melancholy scene from Notting Hill set to Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers. It’s a perfect song to highlight William’s broken heart since Anna left him. This is perhaps one of my favorite Hugh Grant moments on film, he certainly got the British rom-coms cornered for a while there. I’ve highlighted this scene in this post before, but it remains one of my favorites.

The World is Not Enough The Thames Boat Scene

The film as a whole is crap but this rousing opening sequence on the Thames is awesome! Pierce Brosnan’s Bond once again is outrun by one of his hot female villains, but I think the gorgeous London scenery here just might outshine both of them. Here’s an interesting trivia per IMDb:

The boat chase took 7 weeks to shoot, as the Thames’ 9-MPH boat speed limit had to be factored in. Two “Clamper” policemen were disturbed in their line of duty during filming, being soaked so much that one of them ended up nearly going over the front of the car they were supposed to be clamping. Needless to say, their reactions in the film are very much real. This 14-to-15-minute opener is still the longest pre-credits sequence ever in a James Bond movie.

28 Days Later – London deserted

This scene is beautiful as it is eerie. Cillian Murphy’s Jim wakes up from a coma in the hospital and finds that his city has been deserted. Still in his scrubs, he’s walking along the Westminster Bridge at sunrise that’s completely empty. There music is so very subtle, and at first there’s no music at all, which enhance the sense of abandonment and creepy feeling of this brilliant scene.

Last Chance Harvey – Wedding invitation

There are a lot of lovely scenes around London in this heartwarming film. This is one of them overlooking the Thames on a sunny day. Kate, the woman Harvey’s path crosses with during his London trip, encourages Harvey to actually attend the wedding reception of his daughter. There’s a lot of poignant dialog in this film and the tentative romance between Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson’s characters just felt so authentic.

Rocknrolla – Art Museum dealings

Guy Ritchie’s version of London, the criminal underworld setting that his films are often set in. I’m not sure the name of the Art Museum in this setting, perhaps one of you Londoners might be able to tell me? Gerry Butler and Thandie Newton make for a stunning couple and Thandie is especially seductive here, wearing a spiky pair of heels that even macho guys like One Two would notice.

The King’s Speech – A stroll on a foggy day

I can’t find the exact scene when Bertie [that is Albert the Duke of York] takes a stroll with his speech therapist Lionel in the misty gardens. It’s one of the key scenes between the two of them that ends with the duke being angry at Lionel for wanting to treat him as equal as part of his therapy, and the parting words to Lionel is a pretty harsh one, ‘You’re a Nobody.’ The foggy setting somehow makes this scene even more affecting.

Now, since I can’t find that scene, I also love this whimsical ‘speech exercise’ scene at Lionel’s beautiful home:

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince – Death Eater’s Attack

There are perhaps a bunch of other London-set scenes that I’m forgetting about as there are so many of them in the Harry Potter movies. But this one that mixes contemporary London with the Hogwarts universe is particularly memorable and beautifully-filmed. Voldemort’s evil henchmen launched an air attack on Trafalgar Square and the Millennium Bridge, the special effects of the fiery attack is fantastic. Certainly one of the most bombastic London scenes ever filmed.

My Fair Lady – Wouldn’t it be loverly?

Ok, I’ve got to have at least one classic films on here, right. Well, I picked one of the three earliest Hollywood films I’ve ever watched which is set entirely in London. The opening sequence outside of the Opera House in Covent Garden is one of my favorites. There’s a plethora of other wonderful songs here, but this one before Eliza becomes a ‘lady’ is just well, lovely. The one where Freddy sang On The Street Where You Live as also quite memorable, I could listen to that song over and over again.

Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix – Flying over Thames

I didn’t want to have TWO scenes from Harry Potter but I just couldn’t live this one out as it shows London at night when Harry and his co-horts are flying over the Thames. The Parliament looks absolutely magical with all those lights. I love night aerial scenes, just like in Superman films whenever Supes takes Lois up around Manhattan.

Love Actually – Heathrow scene

Since I made an entire posts on the London Tubes a couple of years ago, I think Heathrow Airport, one of the busiest airports in the whole world. This sweet scene in Love, Actually is fun and quite touching. I think puppy love is always so endearing and Liam Neeson’s stepson Sam who falls for his American classmate Joanna is just so darn adorable. This chase through the airport always makes me tear up 🙂


Stay tuned for Part II with favorite actors born in London.


Well, what are YOUR own favorite movie scene(s) in London?

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48 thoughts on “The London List Part I: Ten favorite scenes set in London

  1. I always always say wholeheartedly that HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF BLOOD PRINCE is the best of the Harry Potter films (most cohesive, most an entity of its own without a lopsided dependency on the book, and most unafraid to make its changes) so I’m particularly glad to see it on the list.

    (The LAST CHANCE HARVEY scene is a sweet one, curious to see what makes part 2 of the list.)

    1. I still can’t figure out which HP movie is my favorite but I do like ‘Half Blood Prince.’ I just love Last Chance Harvey, such an understated but sweet romance. I’ll be working on Part II after I finish your 90s showdown writeup 🙂

  2. Oh superb choices. I love the Notting Hill montage and that song is lovely. The scenes from Harry Potter were so cool and breathtaking. And that moment from the King’s Speech was probably one of the most memorable in the movie in terms of cinematography. Can’t wait to see what will be in part 2 of the list!

    1. Thanks Sati. Notting Hill is one of my all time fave rom-coms. Seems like the Brits are somehow able to make a rom-com that aren’t clichéd. I LOVE British gardens and that one in The King’s Speech is definitely lovely. Part II will be up soon, hopefully tonight 🙂

  3. I loved the 28 Days Later scene. Had to watch it and 28 Weeks Later for my dissertation, so very fresh in my mind.

    Also love the opening scene to Four Weddings and a Funeral, classic. And the wimp fight in Bridget Jones’ Diary.

    Goodness me, I do love London.

      1. I think I’ve been to London most frequently for a city that I don’t actually live or work in. I have family who live in the suburbs, so when growing up we would go on holiday to visit them. Grew up geographically closer to NYC but have only been there thrice.

        Oh, and I posted my short film!

  4. I love London, it’s such a big, cosmopolitan, yet very very special city. All the HP, Love,actually, Rocknrolla and Notting Hill scenes are wonderful!

  5. Wonderful post, Ruth! Those scenes are all marvelous, especially the ones from Harry Potter, Love Actually, and Notting Hill. (I do need to watch Rocknrolla though. I have a copy, so I’ll try to see it soon.) Bring on part 2. 🙂

  6. Love all of these. Nice to see ROCKNROLLA get some love. An underrated film. Does most of BRIDGET JONES’ DIARY count? Even though the lead is actually American, there is something so English about it. Also TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, just about the whole thing.

    1. Well I LOVE Rocknrolla doll. I just rewatched it so it’s still fresh in my mind. Oh yeah Bridget Diary has some great London scenes! Which one is that when she is smooching with Colin Firth in a snowy night?? And yes on TTSS as well.

  7. That Heathrow scene in “Love, Actually” is one of my favorites too. Best Running To The Airport Scene Ever. Personally I’m fond of the scene at the Candlelight Club in “Waterloo Bridge.”

    And, of course, the bridge jump in “Spice World.” Wait, did I just say that out loud?

  8. Ted S.

    That boat chase scene in The World Is Not Enough was the only good thing in that film and yes I love the scenery of the city of London too. I haven’t scene some of the films you’ve mentioned but the ones I saw, I totally agree they really capture the look and feel of that city. I do enjoy the car chase scene in National Treasures 2, the chase went longer than it should’ve been but it’s still enjoyable.

    1. Totally agree Ted, after that awesome opening scene it sort of went down hill from there. I haven’t seen National Treasure 2, though I quite enjoyed the first one. I might watch it then since it takes place in London.

      1. Ted S.

        I have National Treasures 2 on BD so I can lend it to you, it’s pretty entertaining just like the first film. I think it was the last Nic Cage film that I sat through.

  9. Pingback: London Appreciation Posts: Part I and Part II « The Cinematic Consensus Group

  10. Cool post idea! I’m glad 28 Days Later was mentioned. That scene was just… wow. Still haven’t seen 28 Weeks Later, though. Is that worth checking out?

    1. I haven’t seen 28 Weeks Later either Eric, so I can’t tell you that. I’m not that interested though as I don’t think it’s by Danny Boyle.

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