Prague on Film
Discover which five famous films feature Prague landmarks you may recognize
Some of you may have seen Toyota’s new advert for the Yaris Hybrid in which the car is driven through the streets of Prague by various people singing along to pop classics – some tunefully, some not so tunefully.
This isn’t the first time that the naturally photogenic Prague has caught the eye of cinematographers, in fact Prague has been the location of many films. Here we list five films – either shot or set in Prague, or both – that feature a number of Prague landmarks you may recognize.
Set in the last days of Russian occupation in Prague, Kolya (1996) is a bittersweet comedy in which dedicated bachelor Franta played by acclaimed Czech actor Zdeněk Svěrak, who also wrote the film’s screenplay, enters a sham marriage with a Russian woman so she can gain Czech citizenship. After she steals away to West Germany to be with her boyfriend she leaves her young son, Kolya, with Franta and an unlikely bond develops between the pair. The critically acclaimed film, which as directed by Zdeněk’s son Jan Svěrak, won both the Academy Award ad Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film and makes use of Prague locations like Vinohradský hřbitov and Wenceslas Square.
The 2002 action film XXX stars Vin Diesel as Xander Cage, a former stuntman and extreme sports fanatic reluctantly recruited by the National Security Agency, as a spy sent to Prague to penetrate a Russian terrorist cell. As with many films falling into the action and spy genres, a typically convoluted plot ensues full of duplicity, car chases and explosions wit Samuel L. Jackson as a scar-faced senior NSA agent and the beautiful Asia Argento as Vin Diesel’s love interest. Recognisable filming locations include Týnska, the Powder Gate and a spectacular, action-packed scene involving the Vltava River, a speeding waterborne drone missile and Vin Diesel saving the day with the help of a parachute and some ingenious timing.
Steven Soderburgh’s mystery thriller Kafka (1991) starring Jeremy Irons as the eponymous writer is part loose biopic, part loose adaptation of Prague-born Kafka’s novels The Trial and The Castle. Set in Prague in 1919, in typical Kafkaesque fashion, the film blurs the lines between fact and fiction as Irons plays insurance worker Kafka who, following the murder of his co-worker, gets involved with a secret underground group. Shot in black and white, the atmospheric film includes scenes filmed at Prague Castle and Charles Bridge.
Brian De Palma’s 1996 films based on the 1960s and 1970s TV show of the same name, Mission: Impossible’s opening scenes show a moody, night time Prague with Tom Cruise as agent Ethan Hunt running around Charles Bridge and Malá Strana looking anguished as he witnesses several of his Impossible Mission Force agents killed off. Thus follows a plot with more twists than a corkscrew with espionage, double agentry and an exploding fish tank in a restaurant unleashing an impossible amount of water that allows Cruise to crash through a window and escape into the Prague night. Other filming locations include the Powder Tower and the National Museum.
For a city that embraced the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and saw the premiere of one of his most famous works, Don Giovani, Prague as certainly a befitting location in which to shoot the 1984 film Amadeus, even if the majority of the film is set in 18th century Vienna. Directed by native Czech Miloš Forman the film, which won Best Picture at the 57th Academy Awards, included scenes shot at the magnificent Gothic Church of St Giles and the Tyl Theatre, formerly the Estates Theatre, where Mozart actually first conducted Don Giovani.
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