Lights, Camera, Croatia!

As soon as Azamara pulled into port at Dubrovnik, Croatia, I understood why Hollywood beats a red carpet path to film there. This UNESCO World Heritage Site overlooks the dramatic Adriatic Sea from behind its stone wall perimeter. It’s the perfect scenery for advancing plotlines and panoramic shots. It’s no wonder that Dubrovnik ranks as one of the most frequently visited spots along the Adriatic

Thanks to some shore excursions and a bit of exploring on my own, I quickly learned that all of Croatia serves as a majestic backdrop for filmmaking. The country has served as a movie set for as long as film reels have been rolling. 

Many television viewers will recognize Dubrovnik as King’s Landing, the capital of Seven Kingdoms in the HBO hit Game of Thrones. The George R.R. Martin books, which the show is based on, are set in a land of exquisite nature and rich history, which describes Croatia to a T.

Star Wars VIII wrapped up filming in Dubrovnik in Spring 2016. Much of the action took place on Stradum, Dubrovnik’s main street. The Star Wars VIII release date is set for Dec. 15, 2017. 

In international film circles, Winnetou is probably the best-known title filmed in Dalmatia. The movie series, which began in 1965, is based on German author Karl May’s books on Winnetou, a fictional Native American character. A new Winnetou is being filmed for new viewers, and the moviemakers are using the original locations.

Here are some other movies with Croatia as part of the picture. 

• Parts of the 1963 James Bond flick From Russia with Love were filmed in Zagreb. 

• Isadora, the 1968 biopic of Isadora Duncan starring Vanessa Redgrave, used Opatija as Nice, the French city where Isadora died when her scarf was caught in the wheel of a car she was in. 

• Flashback scenes of Poland in 1982’s Sophie’s Choice, for which Meryl Streep won an Academy Award for the title role, were filmed in a Zagreb sound stage. 

• Transylvania 6-5000, starring Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis, were filmed in Samobor, near Zagreb, in 1985. 

• Parts of Armour of God, starring Jackie Chan, also were filmed in Zagreb in 1986. 

• Red Tails, filmed some scenes in Istria in 2012, stars Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard. 

Croatia offers more than an exotic locale for foreign production companies. There is the Pula Film Festival, which offers public screenings and the Golden Arenas, the Croatian film industry awards, similar to the Academy Awards. The Pula Film Festival is held at the Pula Arena, an amphitheater from Roman Times. Even if not filming, Hollywood luminaries visit Croatia on other business. Last September, Brad Pitt was spotted in Zadar investigating luxury real estate investments. 

What’s your favorite movie? Maybe parts of it were filmed in Croatia. Whether or not they were, I hope you have the opportunity to visit this fascinating country.

Ann Tran

Ann Tran is a luxury travel writer located in Washington, DC. Ann has cruised with Azamara several times throughout Europe and Asia.

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