Why The Best Scenes Are Filmed On A Rooftop
Don’t know if we’ve told you this, but we bloody love rooftops. There’s nothing good that happens on ground level that would not be hugely improved by relocating a few levels up, alright? NOTHING. Eating pizza? It’s better on a rooftop. Meeting your mates? It’s better on a rooftop. Getting jiggy? It’s better on a rooftop – though not on our rooftop, we’ve got rules for that.
Film scenery is often just as important as the scene content itself, the backdrop setting can make or break a movie. After all, what would The Sound of Music be without those alive hills? Lost in Translation without the streets of Tokyo? Or Rocky without those steps for him to montage all over?
The people of the movies know this secret only too well, which is why they take to the rooftops to film some of their most iconic scenes; these scenes are obviously our favourite.
Here are our top ten film scenes of all time, the absolute best because they’re set at altitude, overlooking the world’s hottest skylines and cities. If you’re lucky, you’ll even be able to get tickets to catch a few of them during our season of rooftop screenings…
Mary Poppins – 1964
Not only is this set in our home town, but this film has one of the jolliest, most iconic rooftop scenes ever. Featuring heaps of chimney sweeps, including Dick Van Dyke and his outrageous accent, as they dance their way between the rooftops of London, arm in arm with Mary Poppins and the Banks kids.
We’re screening this in Stratford on 4th May so you’d better step in time. Get your tickets here.
Die Hard – 1988
Bruce Willis might be having the worst Christmas ever, but at least he gets to chuck the evil Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman, sob) off the roof of the Nakatomi Plaza before swinging from a fire hose. Even with a helicopter circling and bullets flying everywhere, McClane must have appreciated that view across LA. Yippie-ki-yay, motherf*cker.
The Hangover – 2009
Four blokes hit Vegas for the stag party to end all stag parties, but the best bit for us is the rooftop scene before shit hits the fan. Pre-lost groom, tiger in the bathroom and baby in the bedroom confusion, the foursome hit the roof of Caesar’s Palace to shoot Jager and check out those views across Sin City. Zach Galifianakis even overcame his fear of heights for this scene.
The Matrix – 1999
Arguably the sci-fi classic’s most iconic scene, and not just because it takes place on a rooftop, here Neo discovers that he can dodge actual bullets by doing that famous backwards lean thing that we always try and recreate every time we’re wearing a long coat/are definitely drunk. This scene also received critical acclaim for its use of ‘bullet-time’ camera shots.
We’re screening this in Stratford on 5th May – will you take a blue or a red pill? Get your tickets here.
King Kong – 1933
This giant gorilla has been in more films than he could count on his massive fingers but our favourites are the ones that involve him dragging his gargantuan ape arse to the roof of the Empire State Building. He stands up there, 381m above ground, and looks out over that New York skyline, avoiding military aircraft and checking on his hostage.
Skyfall – 2012
If you’re gonna get involved in a motorbike chase, you might as well do it on the rooftops of Istanbul a la Daniel Craig. In this scene, 007 is trying to catch Patrice who’s managed to get his filthy mitts all over a list of undercover MI5 agents. If you look really closely, you’ll spot Bond drinking a Martini, sleeping with two women and smoking 11 cigarettes, all on the back of his bike.
The Italian Job – 1969
Like all the best chases, this three-car pursuit in the middle of Turin ends up on a rooftop. Conveniently, this one’s a rooftop race track. Michael Caine soon has enough and orders his driver to ‘look for the bloody exit’, resulting in the Mini leaping off the track onto the roof of a neighbouring building like a low key Lewis Hamilton.
The Dark Knight Rises – 2012
Catwoman and Batman find themselves on a Gotham rooftop surrounded by a load of Bane’s henchmen who are getting all up in their grill and end up caught in a brawl. We’re not really sure why Catwoman doesn’t just jump because she’d surely land on her feline feet, but whatever; she puts on her spandex one leg at a time like the rest of us.
We’re screening this in Peckham on 5th May so look for the Batsignal. Get your tickets here.
Ghostbusters – 1984
When there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, even the rooftops aren’t safe. Set on top of Central Park West’s ‘The Shandor’, home to all kinds of paranormal energy and a mysterious metaphysical gateway, the four heroes, who ain’t even afraid of no ghosts, get up to the roof to close the entrance to the occult underworld.
Vertigo – 1958
If anyone’s gonna do rooftop scenes well, it’s Hitchcock. The opening of this film takes place on the roof, with Scottie slipping during a chase through the skyline where he is left hanging from the side of a building, thus giving him vertigo. A lesson if ever there was one for the importance of both ledges and grip strength.
We’re screening this in Peckham on 4th May so hold on tight. Get your tickets here.