Last weekend I visited Farnham, also known to some as Nottingham forest! This is because the Lower Bourne Woods in Farnham are a commonly used film location. The first film to be filmed here was Gladiator starring Russell Crowe. The opening scene from the film with the Roman army lined up against the enemy horde was filmed in these woods, since then famous films have included Children of Men, The Golden Compass, Harry Potter (can’t remember which), Wolfman, and now Ridley Scott’s 2010 Robin Hood.
In the Bourne woods the film crew are constructing a Fort / Castle, on the top of a hill overlooking a peasant village complete with vegetable patches and surrounded by wooden walls and defences.
The image above (click for full size with any image on the page) shows the Castle that the film crew have built in Bourne woods, this is an impressive structure even close up! It is constructed of scaffolding, covered with a wooden frame which I then believe is coated in fabric and plaster of Paris which is then painted in a brick design. The Castle is huge, and has ramparts on the other side for reverse shots of the archers shooting over the wall.
From the back the Castle looks very different, you can see the beautifully constructed ramparts from this shot which are sure to be featured as the castle comes under attack. You can also see the scaffold construction.
There were a few clues as to what might take place here, most noticeably the battering ram! You can just see this on the left of the above picture.
From the side of the castle this picture looks down at the village, with a series of differently sized huts with thatched roofs. Some have vegetable gardens, one looks like an ironmongers.
The final image shows the village gates, from the right of the image you can see the walls are built up on a mound of earth and sharpened stakes point horizontally at would be attackers. The village gates are also made of logs with towers either side. Ignore the trucks, not very period! Then on the left another tower.
Other pictures I have show the large marquee tents where I assume they will be dressing and doing makeup. Also there is an area where they are producing the props. Interestingly many of the village props such as benches and tables have been burnt to a crisp in this area. I believe this is a sign that the village will burn to the ground!
To conclude it was fantastic to visit the set (I say “visit the set” but it is a public forest). It’s especially interesting to get a feel for the camera angles they use, for example from the rear or one side most of the castle is just naked scaffolding, (except for the ramparts previously shown. Also looking round the village the village walls only extend a few meters at the front and much of the rest is exposed. If I were planning an attack the rear of the castle or side of the village is completely undefended.
After seeing the set up close it will be interesting to see it in the film, I wonder if they’re looking for extras… …