Friday, July 14, 2017

News: Wentworth Woodhouse back on the big screen

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One of the UK's most interesting and important Grade 1 listed country houses, Wentworth Woodhouse in Rotherham, is heading back to the big screen as a backdrop for Britain's "Darkest Hour."

The Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust (WWPT) recently concluded the acquisition of the largest privately-owned house in Europe for £7m and is working on plans for a sustainable business case for its secure future.

Featuring in numerous big screen and small screen productions has been important in raising the profile (and much needed revenue) of the property which for many years has been in relative obscurity.

Parts of the house have recently been used in the making of the new Winston Churchill biopic, Darkest Hour. Focus Features reteamed with both Working Title Films, one of the world's leading film production companies, and director Joe Wright (known for Atonement & Pride & Prejudice) to tell the story of the Churchill immediately after his appointment as Prime Minister.

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The blurb for the film, whose original screenplay is from Anthony McCarten (who wrote The Theory of Everything), reads: "Churchill must face one of his most turbulent and defining trials: exploring a negotiated peace treaty with Nazi Germany, or standing firm to fight for the ideals, liberty and freedom of a nation. As the unstoppable Nazi forces roll across Western Europe and the threat of invasion is imminent, and with an unprepared public, a sceptical King, and his own party plotting against him, Churchill must withstand his darkest hour, rally a nation, and attempt to change the course of world history."

The official trailer for the film, released this week, shows leading man, Gary Oldman, transformed into the iconic Briton (he spent around 200 hours in the make up chair) and his performance is already being tipped for success during awards season. The film is due for release in January 2018.

The trailer also shows Wentworth Woodhouse standing in for Buckingham Palace, with King George VI (played by Ben Mendelsohn) inviting Churchill to become Prime Minister in a resplendent looking Whistlejacket room (pictured, top).

The house recently stood in for Buckingham Palace in the television adaptation of King Charles III and was also used in ITV's prime-time drama, Victoria, which became the channel's highest rated drama of 2016. Series two is currently being filmed.

Wentworth was last on the big screen in Mike Leigh's biopic of JMW Turner, standing in for London's Royal Academy of Arts.

It is not only the British film industry that has made use of the historic setting, India's Bollywood is also in on the act. Vikram Bhatt is using the house and stables to film his period horror-romance, 1921.

Wentworth Woodhouse website

Images: Working Title / Vikram Bhatt / twitter


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