Director Oliver Parker teamed up with William Ivory and cast Glenda Jackson and Michael Caine in an adaptation of a true story of a man named Bernard Jordan who escaped from his nursing home in the heartland of England to go to France to see the D-Day celebration. That’s the entire premise of The Great Escaper, a movie which we will explore its filming locations today.
This movie is a heartwarming story of a man whose decidedness made him reach national news in 2014, as all he wanted to do was to relive his days of thunder. Still, he did so by worrying a lot of people about his well-being and mental status, but that’s something for another day. Today, we’ll shift gears and focus on where was The Great Escaper filmed.
The Great Escaper Filming Locations
The Great Escaper was filmed between England and France. The movie was filmed in early September and concluded in late October 2022. The production was halted a couple of times with concerns for Michael Caine’s and Glenda Jackson’s health amidst a COVID spike.
Fun fact: Glenda Jackson and Michael Caine worked together in a 1975 movie called “The Romantic Englishwoman”. Also, a not-so-fun fact: This was Glenda Jackson’s last movie prior to her passing in June 2023.
The Great Escaper tells us the story of Bernard Jordan (played by Michael Caine), a man who, in June 2014, escaped his nursing home to go to the beaches of Normandy in France to celebrate the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Jordan was part of the Royal Navy during World War II and wanted at age 89 to see the place where he risked his life for the liberty of his country and Europe.
The bulk of the movie was filmed in diverse locations across Sussex, and East Sussex and with exterior shots in Camber Sands and Dover.
Camber Sands is a beach location in East Sussex used by the film’s director. It is unique because it is the only sand system in that region, located east of the estuary of the River Rother. The beach has a special interest for scientists, and biologists because of the dunes that form there.
Fun fact about Camber Sands: during World War II, the dunes formed were used in military exercises. The Ministry of Defense even used lots of bags of sand that were fortified to help with the war effort.
Because the dunes are very similar to the ones we see in several parts of Normandy where the D-Day attack took place, the cast and crew filmed several scenes there to reminisce Bernard’s days of military service.
Located in Southeast England, Dover is one of the country’s major port and ferry towns. It is where lots of boats during the D-Day attack shipped from, and it is seen across the movie when Bernard gets there after going through several parts of England on his way to France to reminisce about those days.
In the movie, we see several exterior shots of Dover, which include its streets, the Dover Harbor, and its famous White Cliffs of Dover, also seen in movies like Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. Fun fact: These cliffs have a great symbolic value for England because they face the narrowest part of the English Channel, and they serve as a natural barrier.
Located in the suburbs of London, Twickenham, Middlesex is a district where the cast and crew of The Great Escaper filmed indoor scenes, as well as a couple of scenes of London and the River Thames showcased in the movie as Bernard moves across England on his way to the coasts of Normandy.
To complete the feeling and the authenticity of this true life story, the filmmakers also took their equipment to film Normandy’s beaches, which were the main protagonists during the Allied invasion of D-Day. Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno, and Sword Beaches are showcased there. These were the codenames given by the Allies during the execution of Operation Overlord. Some exterior shots of Michael Caine were taken in small towns near Normandy, helping give the movie the ambiance and reminiscence necessary to deliver such a heartwarming story.