Best Edinburgh Films: 22 movies set in Edinburgh ranked from best to worst including Trainspotting, Avengers and Fast and Furious

F9 – Fast and Furious 9: Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Roman Tyrese Gibson and Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges in action in Edinburgh

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F9 Fast & Furious 9, 2020

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F9 was filmed in 19 days over September 2019, and featured 11 different areas of central London, including Waterloo Place. The final result is 12 minute of explosive footage in which Vin Diesel and the gang roar through Capital, leaving destruction and mayhem in their wake. It is a fantastic slice of escapism which shows Edinburgh standing up against any other place in the world. As Edinburgh stars, it is easily one of the best uses for the Capital on screen. Ranking 1/22

Ben Whishaw at the Scott Monument in Cloud Atlas

Trainspotting may be the film that made Irvine Welsh famous. The chase along Princes Street in the old John Menzies days may have been the most iconic scene, but much of the rest was shot in Glasgow. Edinburgh welcomed Renton, Spud and Sickboy back with open arms 21 years later for T2.

The second installment includes the Scottish Parliament’s Cav, the Foot-o’-the Walk Jobcentre, the Foot-o” the Walk Shopping Centre, Muirhouse shopping center, Royal Circus, St Stephen’s Church, and the now defunct Shrubhill busworks. Returning director Danny Boyle said: “The good will from local individuals and organisations towards the production made it an absolute pleasure to be back filming in the city.”

Although it is a controversial view, I think T2 is better than Trainspotting. Ranking: 2/22

Maggie Smith in The Prim Of Miss Jean Brodie

1969: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

One of the first films to truly showcase the Capital’s majesty, Ronald Neame’s cinematic retelling of Muriel Spark’s story of a headstrong young teacher in 1930’s Edinburgh has become a classic and is certainly one of the ‘creme de la creme’ when it comes to the city’s celluloid appearances. The film stars Maggie Smith. It features dramatic shots of Edinburgh Academy, Henderson Row, Greyfriars Churchyard and Dalmeny House. It is a must-see. Ranking: 3/22

I was an extra in Restless Natives. Following the adventures of two working class lads who don clown and wolfman masks to become modern day highwaymen, it’s driven by Big Country’s anthemic score. Princes Street and The Mound, along with hundreds of other extras, are used for an epic chase scene. To great effect, Nehaven Harbour and Wester Hailes are also used. A great Scottish comedy, up there with Gregory’s Girl. Ranking: 4/22

Ewan McGregor & Ewan Bremner were on location for T2, Trainspotting 2 on Princess Street, July 13, 2016.

Sunshine on Leith – 2012Director Dexter Fletcher’s film about love, life and coming home is based around the hit Broadway musical, The Proclaimers.

The title suggests that the majority of the action takes places in and around sunny Leith. Constitution Street is featured, Bernard Street is featured, and The Shore is featured. Edinburgh is represented with The Mound, Grassmarket and Calton Hill. Hanover Street is also featured.

Fletcher stated that at the time “Sunshine On Leith is a love song to Edinburgh… Edinburgh is without a shadow of a doubt one of the most photogenic cities in the world, and not just because of the architecture but also because of how the light plays, which is very important in a film, and as much as it has grandeur it also as a real kind of texture to it, a real gritty street kind of feel, that, obviously, any story needs.”This film is a thumbs-up from me for making The Proclaimers’ songs better than ever. Ranking: 5/22

16 Years of Alcohol–2003

Sunshine On Leith

Based on the semi-autobiographical 1987 novel by Skids front man Richard Jobson, 16 Years of Alcohol starred Kevin McKidd as Frankie, a violent alcoholic skinhead, the product of a violent childhood, with a love of ska music. This movie features the Capital in a prominent role, from Tron Square to Drummond Street to Potterrow and many other landmarks such as bars and record shops to Potterrow. This movie is a powerful and entertaining one that is well worth the effort. Ranking 6/22

Not to be confused with Hitchcock’s 1935 black and white version, Ralph Thomas’ remake of The 39 Steps, starring Kenneth More, might have seen much of its interior filming take place at Pinewood Studios, but watch out for a now fascinating sequence filmed in a very different Waverley Station and another in the long gone Princes Street Station, also known as the Caledonian. The film is based on John Buchanan’s spy novel of same name. It includes the famous scene at the Forth Bridge where Richard Hannay, a runaway diplomat, makes his escape. Another classic. Ranking 7/22

The Acid House is dark and gritty. It’s an adaptation of three stories by Irvine Welsh: The Granton Star Cause, which was filmed in Muirhouse, Pilton, and Ferry Road Drive; A Soft Touch, which was filmed in Niddrie; as well as scenes from The Acid House. Depicting the Edinburgh of its time, it’s a hard watch in places but worth it. Ranking 8/22

The Acid House

Complicity is based on the 1993 Iain Banks novel of the name. It follows Jonny Lee Miller as an idealistic journalist who has written articles about corruption in the establishment. When the names of those he mentioned are murdered, suspicion falls upon him and he must clear his name. This gripping thriller, featuring the late King’s panto star Andy Gray cast against type, finds cameras capturing the action at Calton Road, Wellington Court, George Street, Cambridge Street, Cornwall Street and even at the newsagent in the Grassmarket. Queen’s Drive, St Mary’s Street, the Forth Road Bridge, Granton Harbour and The Scotsman Building on North Bridge also feature. Ranking: 9/22

Irvine Welsh and Danny Boyle’s collaboration may now be one of the best known ‘Edinburgh’Films ever made, but being raised in Edinburgh it leaves me cold. And don’t get me started on the animatronic baby scene. There were some notable performances, and the infamous chase scene. I would choose T2 if given the choice between the two. Ranking: 10/22

Director/Producer Michael Caton Jones’ coming-of age comedy-drama caused him to observe: “The purpose of choosing any location is to create an emotional reaction and the beauty of Edinburgh is that you can choose places that reflect whatever you want to say, whether it be old and grand or scruffy or whatever. There’s so much variety, I could have shot Our Ladies five different ways and it would have looked different every time.” Another feel-good favourite with some great local up and coming talent, it’s one to watch, if just for the views of Victoria Street from a hidden camera. Ranking: 11/22

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Fast & Furious 9 – Every film scene in Edinburgh reviewed

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Crowds gathered to see Avengers: Infinity War bring the Marvel Universe to the Capital. Superheroes were seen everywhere: they were found at Cockburn Street and the Royal Mile, as well as at the Waverley Station and in St Giles’ Cathedral. Rosie Ellison from Film Edinburgh said that she was the Manager at the time. “Edinburgh truly is a star of this blockbuster hit. The filmmakers were looking for something unique, Gothic and dramatic and Edinburgh’s Old Town with its medieval architecture fitted the bill.”It seemed like a lot of disruption, but not enough return. However, the fake Cockburn Street was fascinating to see. Rating: 12/22

1959: The Battle of the Sexes

Charles Crichton’s feature movie starred Peter Sellers playing Mr Martin, a mild-manned clerk in the MacPherson tweed business. The House of MacPherson could be seen from South St Andrew Street towards Waverley Station. The RSA was used as an exterior camera and an entrance on High Street became an off license. Holyrood Park was renamed ‘the country’. Rating 13/22

This sci-fi movie, which is both epic and confusing, from Tom Twyker, the Wachowskis, spans five centuries and explores how the actions and consequences that individual lives have on one another in the present, future, and past. James D’Arcy and Ben Whishaw were accompanied to Edinburgh by James D’Arcy and the City Chambers, Victoria Terrace, and the India Buildings. Although it is an intriguing film, Edinburgh feels almost unimportant. Rating: 14/22

Hallam Foe stars Jamie Bell, Sophia Myles and suspects that his step mother is responsible. He leaves his home to travel to Edinburgh, where he falls in love with Kate, who bears a striking similarity to his mother. Hugh Gourlay was the location manager and shot the film on location at Cockburn Street, Caledonian Hotel, and City Art Centre. “Filming in Edinburgh is always such a delight because the team at Film Edinburgh are always there to point you in the right direction and ensure that everything is covered.” Again, it’s Edinburgh that makes it worth watching. Ranking: 15/22

The Adventures of Greyfriars Bobby, 1961

In the Sixties, Edinburgh’s favorite dog received the Disney treatment. The famous pet was given the freedom to march on Edinburgh Castle Esplanade with the massed drums and pipes. Bakehouse Close was used to shoot exterior shots of John Gray’s family home (the dog’s keeper). Stirling is Edinburgh’s double throughout the film. This is strictly for the children. Rating 16/22

One Day – 2010: Three stars from five

Lone Scherfig’s one-day film is based on David Nicholls’ bestseller of the same title. It stars Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, and tells the story about Dex and Emma, who, after just one day, start a relationship that will last a lifetime.

Filmed at Arthur’s Seat and Warriston Close. Moray Place and Forres Street. Parliament Square, Calton Hill, and on Victoria Street. Terrace. Scherfig shared with Film Edinburgh her experiences filming in the city. “Some of the best work days ever, which just makes me want to come back. One Day opens and ends in Edinburgh, but a few shooting days only made you want to do more. It is a very generous and easy place to work… and I didn’t worry too much about sometimes finding ourselves in spots that have been photographed many, many times before.” Ranking: 17/22

Shallow Grave – 1994This black comedy crime film was Danny Boyle’s directorial debut. It stars Ewan McGregor, Christopher Eccleston and Kerry Fox. It is about a group of Edinburgh flatmates who start a chain of events after dismembering an unknown tenant who died, leaving behind a large amount of money. If Edinburgh doesn’t look like itself in this one, there’s a simple reason why, although Flat 6 North East Circus Place was pivotal to the movie, it was predominantly shot in Glasgow as the Glasgow Film Fund awarded producers a £150,000 grant. I watched it once. Disappointing. Rating: 18/22

Jon S Baird’s screenplay is a black comedy crime thriller, based on the Irvine Welsh novel. Even stars James McAvoy, Jamie Bell, and Jim Broadbent couldn’t rescue it. A bit of a hot mess, it’s worth a look just to play spot the location, but that’s about it. Ranking: 19/22

Stephen Frears brought Julia Roberts to the Capital with John Malkovich. This ill-fated movie saw sight-seers travel to Calton Road, the Old Town and other locations in the hopes of seeing the stars of this gothic horror inspired Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde. It failed at the box office and was widely criticised. Roberts was nominated for Worst Actress at Razzie Awards. It was more a case of Jekyll &… hide. Is this the most terrible film ever made in Edinburgh Almost. Ranking: 20/22

This unfortunate black comedy took over much of the Grassmarket to recreate the Edinburgh of the 1820’s for a loose retelling of the exploits Burke and Hare. John Landis directed Burke & Hare and starred Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis and Andy Serkis. This unfunny curiosity (Comic Strip meets Carry-On) has deteriorated badly. It took me two sittings to finish the entire thing. I will never get that time back. Ranking: 21/22

Eurovision Song Contest – The Story of Fire Saga – 2020

Filming of this painful romantic musical comedy from David Dobkin, written by and starring Will Ferrell, came to Edinburgh as it followed the adventures of Icelandic singers Lars Erickssong and Sigrit Ericksdóttir as they prepare to represent their country at the Eurovision Song Contest. Sorry, has to be done: It’s nil points’ from me. Couldn’t finish it. Rarely do I hit the off button. Ranking 22/22

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