The thousand-faced Budapest has played many capitals in various blockbusters. Check out the list and discover Budapest’s versatility!
In recent decades, an increasing number of foreign, mainly Hollywood films have been shot in Budapest, but their stories are rarely set in Hungary – filmmakers exploit the diversity and “acting skills” of our capital (and the capacity of nearby studios). We looked at the roles most often played in Budapest.
Budapest as Moscow
Eastern Europe = Russia/Soviet Union: the thinking of American filmmakers is sometimes that simple, and let’s face it, there are parts of Budapest that we can easily believe on-screen are in Moscow.
Even before the fall of communism, Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in the opening scenes of “Red Heat”, Woody Allen in “Love and Death” which was set in Hungarian Russia. Budapest played Moscow as well, in Brad Pitt‘s “World War Z”, only for those scenes to be cut from the finished film.
Budapest as Paris
Budapest shows a very different, elegant, and sophisticated side when it plays the French capital – most often on and around Andrássy Avenue. The street was transformed into a complete 19th-century Parisian boulevard for “Bel Ami”, and Steven Spielberg shot the French scenes of his film “Munich” here.
Budapest as Rome
The streets of downtown Budapest and some of the old bourgeois palaces can evoke a Mediterranean atmosphere, not to mention some of the few remaining examples of Renaissance architecture in the country. Anthony Hopkins‘ film “The Rite” the Hungarian capital featured as Rome, but it also excelled in the “Borgias” series as the various Italian locations, and the streets behind the Opera were again a good choice, this time as the Italian capital instead of Hungarian.
Budapest as London
In “Munich”, Budapest played not only Paris and Rome, but also London, as it did in István Szabó‘s “Being Julie”, and is often used in this way in commercials. It is interesting to note that, because of the reversal of traffic, the cuts, which include street scenes, are mirrored and everything is reversed – which means that on the set, the signs and street signs have to be mirrored.
Budapest as Berlin
One of the most common and popular film roles for Budapest is that of the German capital, whether East, West, not yet dismembered, or already united. In the Nazi films “Max” and “Good”, Budapest was able to show the historical side of Berlin (including the Gozsdu Courtyard, so beloved by filmmakers before its renovation), and in “Spy Game” and “The Debt”, it provided the Berlin backdrop for the actions of undercover agents.
Budapest as Buenos Aires
The capital of our country is even capable of playing exotic roles, as Buenos Aires and other parts of Argentina were even filmed here for Madonna and “Evita”. But this was not the only time it played a city on another continent: in the Hollywood film “The Raven”, John Cusack roamed the streets of 19th century Baltimore.
Budapest as Budapest
Finally, let’s not forget the films where the location and the story coincided, where Budapest could play itself (or at least one of the many facets of its personality). A surprisingly high proportion of these films are spy films, such as the surprisingly funny comedy “The Spy” (in which Lake Balaton even appears!), but earlier, scenes from “I Spy”, “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”, “Gemini Man” and “Black Widow” were also shot in Budapest.