Sure, Scarlett Johansson is pretty on screen. And Catherine Zeta-Jones, she's okay, too. But film directors know all too well that when shooting scenes at Dam Square, in the Red Light District or on its hundreds of canals, Amsterdam is the real star. The city has been the site of many Hollywood blockbusters as well as European art house productions. Below is a list of pretty movie locations across town. Feel free to visit them and honour the real movie star: Amsterdam.
The canals of Amsterdam are pretty, idyllic and great for slow rides in the sun - and a UNESCO World Heritage Site to boot - but not everyone believes that the waters are safe, or so we are led to believe in the Dutch movie Amsterdamned, by notorious horror director Dick Maas of De Lift fame which was later remade into the film Down about a murdering elevator. The canals are the scene of multiple murders by an unknown man in the shadows. Next time, think twice before venturing on the Amstel river, the Ij or the canals along the Keizersgracht and the Reguliersgracht.
Diamonds are Forever (1971)
Gorgeously made of white painted wood, the Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge) in the city centre was made before World War II and, like its bigger brother the Blauwe Brug, joins the two banks of the River Amstel. Decorated with festive LED lights today, the bridge served as a location for the James Bond classic Diamonds are Forever back in 1971. But our suave British hero, played by the only real Bond, Sean Connery, galavanted around other places in the Dutch capital, too. Take a walk along the Reguliersgracht (where Bond Girl Tiffany Case lived) or visit the Brouwersgracht in the Jordaan, another famous location. It might feel like a Sex and the City tour, but at least you can pretend to be a spy.
Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003)
This fictional tale by Tracy Chevalier about real-life Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer is set in the Netherlands and named after a famous Dutch painting. So why do the characters in Girl with a Pearl Earring speak English? Ah, international appeal, of course. But you have to give it to the producers for filming the majority of the scenes in the Netherlands. In addition to the Royal Palace on Dam Square, director Peter Webber decided to grace Delft (famous for its blue Delftware) with its prominent cast which included Scarlett Johansson as the girl and Colin Firth as the painter.
Kidnapping Mr Heineken (2015)
The true story of how some local men kidnapped filthy rich beer baron Freddy Heineken was, of course, filmed in Amsterdam and you can see many of the city’s beautiful canals in the background, especially during the bank robbery scene.
It is no coincidence that two Dutch actors, the late Antonie Kamerling and Daniël Boissevain, played cameo roles in the American blockbuster Mindhunters, which was partly shot in Amsterdam. The cast of the Christian Slater-starring thriller presumably had a great time shooting in Amsterdam-Noord, which you can reach by ferry from Central Station. Whereas Mindhunters is set on an island and tells about a traitor amidst a group of seven FBI agents, the scene of Amsterdam-Noord is less treacherous. It is usually flooded by hipster events, so don't forget to wear a knit hat, even in summer.
Ocean's Twelve (2004)
Apparently, everybody insists that Brad Pitt owns an apartment in Amsterdam. Pitt has debunked the story in an interview, but admits he still has an old bike parked somewhere in the city, from back in his youth (the movie star is, after all, very spry in his 50s). The shooting of Ocean's Twelve (the sequel to heist movie Ocean's Eleven), may attract you to the Dampkring Coffeeshop on the Handboogstraat in the centre, but more famous are the scenes at the Pulitzer Hotel, at the edge of the Jordaan.
The Discovery of Heaven (2001)
All of the 'Big Three' writers of the Netherlands are no more, but their legacy continues in their classic novels… and their not-too-bad adaptations to the big screen. Take for example De ontdekking van de hemel, the magnus opus of Harry Mulisch, that was made into a so-so English version with names like Jeroen Krabbé, Stephen Fry and Greg Wise (husband of Emma Thompson). Like a Bond movie, the whirlwind narrative takes you across the globe from Italy, Spain and Israel to last, but not least, Amsterdam. Watch out for shots of the Rijksmuseum, Bloemgracht in the Jordaan and Hotel The Grand at the Vijzelgracht.
The Fault in Our Stars (2014)
It's our firm belief that only teenagers can appreciate the rather morbid, yet somewhat uplifting tale of star-crossed lovers / cancer patients in John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, but if you'd like to see some of the film’s Amsterdam background then look no further than the bench in front of Leidsegracht 4. The original bench was stolen but has since been replaced. You can also stay at Sandton Hotel De Filosoof near the Vondel Park where Hazel and Augustus stayed.