1917 is a masterpiece of technical and cinematic achievement, with many scenes shot in very different locations. The majority of the film was shot in England, particularly Hertfordshire, Salisbury Plain, Oxfordshire, Durham County and Stockton on Tees. Not only did this create an interesting backdrop to the story, but it also allowed for unique shots and perspectives.
Hertfordshire's Bovingdon Airfield was used as an aerodrome in the film and its open nature provided a great canvas for aerial shots. Wiltshire's Salisbury Plain is known for its vast grasslands and rolling hills that provided a wonderful contrast to some of the more intense scenes in the film.
In Oxfordshire, a quarry was chosen to provide a unique perspective on ground shots. The River Tees in Durham County also featured prominently in several scenes, providing another beautiful backdrop for the action taking place. The Tees Barrage (whitewater rafting center) near Stockton on Tees provides exciting footage during the movie, while Glasgow's abandoned Govan dry docks offer a stark contrast depicting destruction and despair. Finally, indoor scenes are filmed at Shepperton Backlot and stages, which provide studio space to capture indoor sequences when needed.
Any fan of the movie 1917 or those who appreciate beautiful scenery should definitely consider a trip to these locations. You can not only enjoy the stunning views that were used as backdrops in filming but also explore the distinctive attractions of each area.
The British trenches scene in 1917
Bovingdon Airfield Studios, Bovingdon, Airfield HP3 0GH, United Kingdom
The field telephone lines in the British trenches are cut. General Erinmore has assigned a crucial mission to two British lance corporals, Tom Blake and William Schofield. The task assigned is to convey a vital message to Colonel Mackenzie (Benedict Cumberbatch), who is part of the 2nd Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment. The message is an urgent request to cancel a planned attack set for the next morning that could result in the loss of 1,600 lives, including Blake's brother Joseph (Richard Madden), who serves as a lieutenant.
Bovingdon Airfield Studios is a unique and historic film studio located in Hertfordshire, England. The studio has a rich history that dates back to World War II, when it was used as a military airfield. Today, the studio is known for its state-of-the-art facilities, including sound stages, production offices, and post-production suites. It has been used for a wide range of film and television productions, including blockbusters like Star Wars: Episode IX—The Rise of Skywalker and The Dark Knight.
If you're driving, the studio is located just off the M1 motorway. Take junction 8 and follow the signs for Hemel Hempstead and Bovingdon. The journey from London takes one hour, depending on traffic.
The closest train station to Bovingdon Airfield Studios is Hemel Hempstead, which is served by frequent trains from London Euston and other major cities. From the station, you can take a taxi or bus to the studio.
The German trenches scene in 1917
Hankley Common, Elstead, Godalming GU8 6LJ, United Kingdom
As Schofield and Blake traverse the perilous no man's land to reach the abandoned German trenches, Schofield sustains an injury to his left hand. Upon arriving at an underground barracks, they stumble upon a tripwire that the Germans had set, which is then triggered by an unsuspecting rat. The resulting explosion nearly claims Schofield's life, but Blake comes to his rescue just in time and the two manage to escape.
Hankley Common is a vast area of heathland located near the village of Elstead, Surrey, England. Covering over four square miles, this beautiful and natural area is well known for its stunning scenery, diverse wildlife and rich history. The common has been used as a filming location for many popular movies, TV shows and commercials, including blockbuster hits like Skyfall and Gladiator. Its unique combination of wooded areas, open fields, and rolling hills makes it a versatile location for filmmakers, who have taken advantage of its natural beauty to create some truly memorable scenes.
If you're driving, the common is located a little more than an hour’s drive from London. From the M25, take the A3 southbound towards Guildford and then take the B3001 towards Elstead. Follow the signs to Hankley Common, where there is ample parking available.
The closest train stations to Hankley Common are Farnham and Godalming, both of which are served by frequent trains from London Waterloo. From either station, you can take a taxi or bus to Elstead village, and then walk to the common.
Scholfield and Blake arriving at the farm scene in 1917
The Bustard Inn, Rollestone Hamlet, Shrewton, Salisbury SP3 4DU, United Kingdom
After coming across an abandoned farmhouse, Schofield and Blake witness a German plane being shot down in a dogfight with Allied aircraft. Amidst the wreckage, they find the burned pilot and manage to rescue him. Blake urges Schofield to fetch water for the injured pilot, but as Schofield turns his back, he is stabbed by the pilot. In self-defense, Schofield fatally shoots the pilot and consoles Blake as he takes his last breath. Determined to complete the mission and honor Blake's memory, Schofield takes his comrade's rings and dog tag, along with Erinmore's letter, before being rescued by a passing British unit. He promises to write to Blake's mother as he carries on with the daunting task at hand.
Salisbury Plain is a vast expanse of chalk downland that covers more than 300 square miles in southern England. It is best known as a training ground for the military, but it also has a rich history, diverse wildlife and stunning natural beauty. For hundreds of years, Salisbury Plain has been an important location for the military, having been used by soldiers throughout British history. Today, it remains a training area for the British Army and other military organizations, with soldiers often seen conducting maneuvers and training exercises across the vast open spaces.
If you're driving, the inn is located just off the A303 road, which connects London to the West Country. Take the exit for the A360 towards Devizes and then follow the signs for Shrewton. The journey from London takes approximately two hours, depending on traffic, and the world-famous Stonehenge is located nearby.
Canal bridge scene in 1917
Govan Graving Docks, 18 Clydebrae St, Govan, Glasgow G51 2LS, United Kingdom
As the British lorries encounter a ruined canal bridge near Écoust-Saint-Mein, they are unable to cross. Deciding to continue on his own, Schofield utilizes what remains of the bridge to cross, but not before he is targeted by a sniper. Engaging in a gunfight with the marksman, Schofield injures him and moves forward. However, both parties fire their weapons simultaneously, resulting in the death of the sniper and Schofield being knocked out cold after taking a blow to the helmet. Schofield comes to amid the darkness of night and navigates through the ruins of the town, illuminated only by flares overhead.
Govan Graving Docks is a historic dry dock located in Glasgow, Scotland. The docks were built in the early 1900s to provide much-needed repair services for ships traveling along the River Clyde. Over the years, the docks played a vital role in the shipbuilding industry in Scotland. They were used for the construction, repair, and maintenance of many ships, including some of the largest ocean liners of the time. However, by the late 20th century, the docks had fallen into disuse and had become dilapidated. In 1988, they were closed and abandoned, and many feared that they would be demolished or left to decay.
If you're driving, the docks are approximately 15 minutes from Glasgow city center. You’ll find them southwest of the city on the opposite bank of the River Clyde.
Schofield jumping in the river scene in 1917
Tees Barrage, Tees Barrage Way, Stockton-on-Tees TS18 2QW, United Kingdom
While eluding a German soldier, Schofield comes across a French woman (Claire Duburcq) taking shelter with an infant who appears to be an orphan. She tends to his injuries and in return, he offers her his canned food and milk he obtained from the farm. Even though she begs him to stay, Schofield departs upon hearing the nearby clock's chimes and realizing that time is of the essence. On his way, he encounters German soldiers and ends up strangling one to evade them before jumping into a river. The river carries him along with falling cherry blossoms.
Tees Barrage, located on the River Tees in the northeast of England, is where this scene was filmed. This state-of-the-art whitewater course is an iconic site for water sports enthusiasts. The course comprises two channels: the whitewater course and the lower Tees river. The course features a series of rapids, drops, and obstacles that challenge even the most experienced paddlers.
Opened in 1995, the Tees Barrage was built as part of a larger regeneration project to transform the area into a thriving hub for leisure and tourism. Today, it attracts visitors from all over the world who come to experience its high-adrenaline activities, including whitewater rafting, kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddleboarding.
If you are driving, take the A19 and exit onto the A66 towards Teesside. Follow the signs for Tees Barrage and take the exit onto Tees Barrage Way.
The nearest train station to Tees Barrage is Thornaby station, which is approximately a five-minute taxi ride away.
Waterfall scene in 1917
Low Force Waterfall, Barnard Castle DL12 0XF, United Kingdom
After being swept over a waterfall and reaching the riverbank, Schofield stumbles upon D Company of the 2nd Devons in the forest. The company is part of the final wave of the attack, and as they begin to move towards the front, Schofield endeavors to locate Colonel Mackenzie.
The Low Force Waterfall, located in County Durham, England, is a stunning natural attraction in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is situated on the River Tees, approximately four miles upstream from the town of Middleton-in-Teesdale. The waterfall is a popular destination for visitors who come to admire its stunning beauty and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. The river runs over a series of rocky ledges, creating a cascading effect that is both mesmerizing and calming. For those who are feeling more adventurous, there are also opportunities for canoeing and kayaking on the River Tees. The low-level white water rapids in the area make it an ideal spot for beginners to learn these water sports.
If you are driving from London, follow the A1(M) north and exit at Scotch Corner onto the A66 towards Penrith. Take the B6277 towards Middleton-in-Teesdale and follow the signs to Low Force Waterfall. The drive is about five hours in total, and there is a car park near the waterfall that visitors can use.
The nearest train station to Low Force Waterfall is Darlington Train Station.
The Oscar-winning movie 1917 was an epic, immersive experience for viewers. Through a range of carefully chosen locations, the filmmakers were able to capture the urgency and danger of war. From Hertfordshire's Bovingdon Airfield to the whitewater rafting center at Tees Barrage in Stockton-on-Tees, each location brought its own atmosphere and tension.
All in all, 1917’s use of different locations contributed significantly to its success as one of 2019’s finest movies, capturing both the horror and humanity of war with powerful emotion and compelling storytelling. These beautiful locations are also easily accessible, so why not check some of them out the next time you’re in the UK?