Pinewood Studio turns 80: Five of the best films shot at the iconic studio

There's much more to the English studio than James Bond...

Pinewood Studio turns 80: Five of the best films shot at the iconic studio

The 007 stage at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, UK | Image: Steve Parsons / PA Archive/Press Association Images

Today marks 80 years since Pinewood Studios opened for business in Buckinghamshire in England.

Ever since it hosted its first production - London Melody - Pinewood has become one of the most iconic movie studios in the world. It is perhaps best known as the home of the James Bond franchise - but it has hosted hundreds of other productions over the decades, right up to this week’s new release Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

Here’s five of the best films to have been shot at Pinewood:

The Red Shoes

After Pinewood reopened for commercial productions following World War II, the beloved directing duo Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger filmed several of their masterpieces at the studio. Perhaps the most iconic of these productions is The Red Shoes - a tale of obsession and deception in the world of ballet dancing. Its lavish and almost nightmarish dance sequences memorably married the languages of both cinema and theatre. Like many Powell and Pressburger films, The Red Shoe’s reputation has continued to grow, and was a major influence on Black Swan.

Dr No

Even if the franchise someday departs for studios new, Pinewood will forever be linked with James Bond. From Dr No right through to Spectre, the studio’s association with 007 has helped elevate Pinewood from just some studio somewhere in England to the iconic home of the world’s most famous (fictional) spy. Ask any Bond fan for a favourite and you’ll get a different answer, so we’ll just stick with the original (and one of the best).

Full Metal Jacket

Stanley Kubrick moved from studio to studio throughout his career, including a brief stop over at Bray’s Ardmore Studios for the production of Barry Lyndon. Pinewood hosted a pair of Kubrick productions. While you’ll find some very vocal defenders of Kubrick’s final work - the divisive Eyes Wide Shut - Full Metal Jacket remains one of Kubrick’s most enduringly popular works.

While the film features plenty of powerful location work, parts were also filmed at Pinewood. With its visceral, startling portrayal of the Vietnam War, it remains a potent example of Kubrick tackling a genre and setting and making them completely his own.

Aliens

While this writer would go to bat for Ridley Scott’s original in the endless debate, there is no doubting the continued brilliance of James Cameron’s action-packed follow up. Production of the sequel took place at Pinewood, and it remains one an all-time great sequel. With its claustrophobic sets and memorably grotesque models, Aliens captures the type of raw physicality that has been lost in all but a rare few contemporary blockbusters.

Gravity

Gravity is perhaps the quintessential modern ‘studio’ film. The ambitious and elaborate choreography needed for its long, effects-heavy shots could only be achieved by months spent in a dedicated studio space (production took place at both Pinewood and Shepperton studios). It is one of those exceedingly uncommon films that gives ‘green screen’ a good name, and its wonderfully immersive approach remains nearly unique in contemporary mainstream cinema. Whereas films like The Hobbit have suffered as a result of their retreat into studio and virtual space over location shooting, Gravity sings thanks to its confinement.