Highlander, 1986

Director

Russell Mulcahy

Cast

visit the film locations

New York: Flights: JFK Airport

Drink at: Peter McManus Cafe, 152 Seventh Avenue, between 19th and 20th Streets in Chelsea (tel: 212.929.6196) Subway: 18th St-7th Ave (1)

Visit: Prospect Park Zoo, 450 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn (tel: 718.399.7339) Subway: Prospect Park Station: B or Q train (local or express); or the local Franklin Avenue Shuttle (S)

London: Flights: Heathrow Airport; Gatwick Airport

Scotland:

Visit: Scotland

Visit: Eilean Donan Castle, Dornie, by Kyle of Lochalsh (tel: 01599.555202)





Trivia

The much-derided sequel, Highlander II: The Quickening, was made in Buenos Aires, Argentina, while Highlander III: The Sorcerer (aka Highlander – The Final Dimension) returned to Scotland, filming at Glencoe, Glen Nevis and Ardnamurchan.

Highlander location: Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland

Highlander location: the Scottish castle: Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland

Photograph: iStockphoto © Jeremy Voisey

A confusing jumble of accents, with staunchly Scottish Sean Connery playing Spanish/Egyptian nobleman Ramirez, as Frenchman Christopher Lambert becomes the immortal Scot Connor Macleod, in this flashy fantasy made by a director of music videos (and does it show).

Highlander location: Greene Street, SoHo, New York

Highlander location: Macleod’s New York home, ‘Russell Nash Antiques’: Greene Street in SoHo, Manhattan

The opening wrestling match (the hockey match of the original script made a little more sense, with the swinging sticks conjuring up memories of brandished broadswords) is set up as Madison Square Garden in New York, but the interior was filmed in the Meadowlands Arena – now the Izod Center, 50 State Route 20 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Part of a huge complex, in reality the stadium is home to the NBA’s New Jersey Nets basketball team.

The underground carpark, in which Macleod (Lambert) decapitates a rival swordsman, is not Madison Square, either. It’s a car park in London, at Earl’s Court, SW5.

Highlander location: Buachaille Etive Beag, Glencoe, Scotland

Highlander location: the battle: Buachaille Etive Beag, Glencoe, Scotland

Photograph: Flickr © Mike Forsyth/calligrafix

The battle between the warring Scots tribes was staged before the striking conical peak of Buachaille Etive Beag in the breathtaking landscape of Glencoe, on the A82 in Argylleshire, Scotland (though the shot of the Kurgan on horseback was filmed later, in Wales). See more of Glencoe in Mel Gibson’s Braveheart and, of course, Skyfall.

The village from which Macleod is banished after miraculously recovering from his apparently fatal wounds is the 13th century Eilean Donan Castle on an islet in Dornie, eight miles east of Kyle of Lochalsh on the A87, Wester Ross. The islet, situated at the point where three great sea lochs meet, and surrounded by majestic scenery, is now one of the most visited attractions in the Scottish highlands.

The first fortified castle was built in the mid 13th century, and since then, at least four different versions of the castle have been built and re-built. Partially destroyed in a Jacobite uprising in 1719, Eilean Donan lay in ruins until it was bought in 1911, restored, and opened to visitors in 1932. No stranger to the screen Eilean Donan has also been seen in Bonnie Prince Charlie (1948) with David Niven, The Master of Ballantrae (1953) with Errol Flynn, Loch Ness (1996), 1999 James Bond film The World Is Not Enough, romantic comedy Made of Honor and Shekhar Kapur’s epic Elizabeth, The Golden Age.

The beach, where Mcleod experiences the Quickening, is Refuge Bay, Curtaig near Morar, while the spectacular jagged peak where Ramirez (Connery) teaches swordplay is Cioch in the Cuillin Hills on the Isle of Skye.

Macleod’s New York home, ‘Russell Nash Antiques’ – supposedly on ‘Hudson Street’ – is Phi Boutique, 71 Greene Street, between Spring and Broome Streets in Soho, New York.

Highlander location: Peter McManus Cafe, 152 Seventh Avenue, Chelsea, New York

Highlander location: Macleod follows Brenda to the bar: Peter McManus Cafe, 152 Seventh Avenue, Chelsea, Manhattan

The bar to which Macleod follows Brenda Wyatt (Roxanne Hart) from Madison Square Garden (which was apparently specified as PJ Clarke’s Saloon in the script), is Peter McManus Cafe, 152 Seventh Avenue, between 19th and 20th Streets in Chelsea. PJ Clarke’s did get its moment of screen glory in Billy Wilder’s The Lost Weekend.

It’s at Prospect Park Zoo, 450 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, that the Kurgan spies on Macleod and Brenda as they watch the lions.

Highlander location: Bow Bridge, Central Park, New York

Highlander location: Macleod meets up with Kastagir: Bow Bridge, Central Park, New York

The elegant bridge on which Macleod meets Kastagir (Hugh Quarshie) is Bow Bridge, Mid-Park at 74th Street, west of Bethesda Terrace, in Central Park.

There’s not as much Manhattan as you might think, though. The film was based in the Jacob Street Studios – an old dog biscuit factory – on Mill Street alongside St Saviour’s Dock in Bermondsey, London SE1, so that many of the present-day interiors, though set in ‘New York’, were filmed in the UK.

The ‘New York library’, in which Brenda figures out the secret of Russell Nash’s deathless signature, is the National Liberal Club, 1 Whitehall Court at Whitehall Place, SW1, now incorporated into the Royal Horseguards Hotel. The club was revisited by director Russell Mulcahy for 1992 thriller Blue Ice, with Michael Caine, and is seen in films including Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, David Lynch’s The Elephant Man and The Constant Gardener.

The duel on ‘Boston Common’, in which Macleod proves unkillable, uses the estate of Brocket Hall just west of Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire. A cinematic regular, the hall’s most memorable screen appearance is in the classic 1957 chiller Night of the Demon.

Highlander location: Shad Thames, London SE1

Highlander location: the fight in the ‘New York’ alley: Shad Thames, London SE1

The scuzzy ‘American’ alleyway, in which a spectacular showdown with the Kurgan (Clancy Brown) finally blows out the neighbourhood windows, is Shad Thames, just west of the studios near to Tower Bridge. The area of dockside warehouses can also be seen in The Elephant Man, The French Lieutenant’s Woman and – since its radical gentrification – in Bridget Jones’s Diary.

The ensuing car chase, though, roars out onto Canal Street alongside Broadway in the real Lower Manhattan.

Highlander location: St Augustine’s, Kilburn, London

Highlander location: the ‘New York’ church: St Augustine’s, Kilburn, London

The ‘New York’ Church, in which Connor MacLeod meets the insinuatingly blasphemous Kurgan, is the huge, rather severe, red-brick St Augustine’s Kilburn, Kilburn Park Road, opposite Rudolph Road. The church is open to visitors on Saturday mornings between 10 and 12, and Tuesdays between 9 and 12.

Highlander location: Silvercup Studios, New York

Highlander location: the confrontation with Kurgan: Silvercup Studios, New York

The final confrontation with Kurgan was written to take place on the rollercoaster at Coney island, but the director eventually settled on the striking neon sign atop a rooftop alongside the Queens side of the Queensboro Bridge.

Coincidentally, the Silvercup sign happens to be atop a film studio – the Silvercup Studios, 42-25 21st Street in Queens. The studio has hosted many productions, including The Godfather Part III, When Harry Met Sally, Do The Right Thing, Romancing the Stone, The Purple Rose of Cairo and Broadway Danny Rose.

The sign is still there – a third-scale reproduction was built and destroyed in the studio in London.




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