Current film productions are not only big business in cinema, but also a huge promotional and tourist industry. The places where “Game of Thrones”, “Harry Potter”, the next sequences of “The Chronicles of Narnia” or the last sequence of “Star Wars” were filmed attract hundreds of thousands of tourists who not only visit, but also buy souvenirs. Some scenes of the story from the closet were shot in the Table Mountains, and the scene of the escape from the White Witch on the frozen lake was shot on Lake Siemianowski in Podlasie.
A great wave of interest in our beautiful Kraków was triggered by the film “Schindler’s List”, made in the early 1990s, a true story of a German industrialist who saved the lives of approximately 1,200 Polish Jews during World War II. The story, based on historical facts, was shot almost in the natural scenery of Krakow’s Podgórze district. The film, which was directed by Steven Spielberg, brought world fame to the city and still leads the world-famous film – “Schindler’s Factory”. This is the former “Emalia” factory in Podgórze, which was operated by Schindler during the war and in which Polish-Jewish workers worked. Today it houses a branch of the Krakow Museum with an exhibition on World War II. There is also an exhibition arranging Schindler’s office.
The film and production team managed to convey the historical truth and atmosphere of those times, mainly thanks to the preserved original buildings: the former Deutsche Emailwarenfabrik plant in Zabłocie, the former ghetto in Podgórze, and the authentic space of the Jewish Kazimierz district. A replica of the concentration camp in Płaszów was built for the film in nearby quarries. The film was based on a television studio in Kraków’s Łęg, where part of the scenery was built in a shooting hall. All the facilities arranged for the needs of the production were designed by Polish set designers, such as Allan Starski and Ewa Braun, who were awarded Oscars for this production. The Academy Award for cinematography also went to Janusz Kamiński.
Krakow, which may come as a surprise to some, can also be seen in a Hollywood film with Jim Carrey. This is the biggest international production which has been realized in Poland so far. In “True Crimes” the main role is played by the Canadian-American star Jim Carrey (“Ace Ventura: Dog Detective”, “Mask”, “Dumb and Dumber”, “Truman Show”, “Man on the Moon”), who successfully moves into more serious roles in films with a rather dramatic script. He is partnered by, among others, Charlotte Gainsbourg, daughter of the legendary Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin. Polish actors include Agata Kulesza, Zbigniew Zamachowski and Robert Więckiewicz.
Krakow has already more than once become known for its charming and catchy locations of film wickedness. Another masterpiece – “Vinci” – a crime comedy by Juliusz Machulski. “Vinci” is one of those films that almost every Pole has seen. Krakow’s Old Town can be seen in its full splendor, among others, in the scenes on the balcony of the apartment of “Szersz”, played by Borys Szyc. Interestingly, the film terrace is actually part of a restaurant located on the sixth floor of a tenement house at 43 Św. Tomasza St. When visiting the city on the trail of the film’s protagonists, it is also worth visiting the Czartoryski Museum, from where the famous “Lady with an Ermine” by Leonardo da Vinci was stolen in the film, and a part of the Wawel Castle which is now open to visitors. While strolling along the Vistula River, it is also worth stopping at Czerwieński Boulevard, where the famous chess tables, which appear many times in the film, are located.
Setting the action of such a famous film in the beautiful city of Krakow is one of the best forms of its promotion, which until now has resulted in an influx of tourists.
The James Bond film crew has already shot films in many places around the world, the closest being Prague. “Aazaan” is a Bond-style film with a cast of the biggest stars of Indian cinema. Scenes for this film were shot at Szczepanski Square, Krakus Mound, Pijarska and Florianska Streets, Nowy Square, Ludwinów and Balice. And ultimately, the Main Square was to be blown up. This was not the only visit of the Bollywood guests. They were making several films at the same time, one for example in the Tatra Mountains. The Tatra Mountains were also the scene of one of the biggest film scandals. In 1987, during the shooting of the film “Bermuda Triangle”, a shelter in the Glade Pisana in the Koscieliska Valley was blown up. Polish Tatra Mountains are also the setting of several Polish films such as “The Provocateur” by Agnieszka Holland and “Illumination” by Krzysztof Zanussi.