City of Sound is about cities, design, architecture, music, media, politics and more. Written by Dan Hill since 2001.

Batman in Bloomsbury

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As I type this, a block away from my flat, under the austere and glowering gaze of the mighty Senate House, they’re filming the new Batman movie (called Batman Begins, aka The Intimidation Game, which was what was actually written on the papers stuck on the windscreens of the crew’s numerous trucks).

I didn’t see any of the glittering cast (dir. Christopher Nolan, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Katie Holmes, Morgan Freeman, Rutger Hauer etc.) though I did see plenty of replica US police cars with Gotham Police Department insignia on the side. Rather incongruous in genteel Bloomsbury, I can tell you. I got stopped from taking any proper photos, so only managed to sneak off this quick Nokia-cam one indicating the production staff trying to film without closing the streets down.


According to a decent post by Kris Tapley half-way down this otherwise chaff-heavy thread at an IMDB messageboard, Nolan is a big fan of Blade Runner’s non-CGI effects – hence the importance of period architecture presumably. I think he’s picked a good ‘un – Senate House would seem to be a perfect stand-in for a faux-’30s monolithic US police department building.

Senate House’s mythology is already greater than that conjured by its awesome physical presence, reputed to be the model for Orwell’s Ministry of Truth in his 1984 (as noted previously) – and it’s frequently a host for scurrying film crews, though I haven’t spotted it in a film or TV thus far. And so now it appears to be part of a Raymond Hood-inspired alternative New York too (as ‘Gotham City’). Simulacrum indeed. It’s interesting to ponder that a chunk of London’s fabric gets used to conjure this exaggerated unreal New York – somehow London becomes another chapter in New York’s Celluloid Skyline.


8 responses to “Batman in Bloomsbury”

  1. joe Avatar

    They were filming at the Barbican and in Moorgate a couple of weeks ago.


  2. Big Dumb Object Avatar

    A photo of Batman Begins shoot

    CityOfSound has a sneaky phonecam pic of some location shooting for the new Batman movie…


  3. robotperson Avatar

    Amongst the best Senate house mythology is that it was slated to be Hitler’s London HQ if his planned invasion of Britain had been successful.
    I also heard a story about one of the now-redundant plant rooms in the basement: One operator’s full-time job was to monitor a single huge Gilliam-esque console. It indicated wind direction and allowed the heating across the building to be adjusted manually – apparently the windward side of the tower would lose more heat. Great job satisfaction there, then.
    Oh, and I remember seeing it in an episode of the superb Jeeves and Wooster, with Steven Fry and Hugh Laurie


  4. David Avatar

    Hi. I arrived here from Batman on Film, which mentions this page.
    In the film of Richard III with Ian McKellen, the Senate House appears as Richard’s headquarters — the film is set in a 1930s-style world with Richard as a fascist dictator. And Michael Radford’s film of Nineteen Eighty-Four uses it as — wait for it — the Ministry of Truth. Oh, and in Spy Game the entrance hall appears as the lobby of the CIA headquarters.
    For Batman Begins, the Senate House is actually being used as a courthouse, not a police headquarters. See SuperHeroHype and Strange Interlude, both of which have more photos of the filming.


  5. Joe Ramey Avatar

    Who’s handling the soundtrack for BATMAN BEGINS?
    Who to contact for submissions?
    Joe Ramey
    of electronic band, EuroVision


  6. Mike Avatar

    Batman Begins was also partially filmed in Chicago, probably for the architectural reasons stated above. Here’s a link to a group of pages about it with lots of pictures:


  7. alvin lucier Avatar
    alvin lucier

    To re-awaken this thread – a great deal of the police department interiors of Batman Begins were shot in the old Farmiloes Warehouse on St John Street Clerkenwell.


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