Clint Eastwood's latest film, Hereafter, which hits our cinema screens this weekend used the London Underground for scenes on the 2005 London bombings. The disused Jubilee Line platform at Charing Cross Tube and the outside of Liverpool Street station were filmed to recreate the attacks.
The location manager, Martin Joy, was delighted with the results and said to LU's Film Office. "Clint and the producers were very complimentary about everyone, particularly your duty managers who were brilliant on the day."
However, the film seems to have got a ribbing by most UK critics ('transparent hokum' - The Indie ; 'unlikely exercise' - The Guardian). Metro said there was "a nagging sense that real-world tragedies – including a weird misappropriation of the 7/7 bombings – have been shoehorned in to lend dramatic impetus to a flimsy and vapid premise." The Scotsman echoed this and said the film "brazenly exploits horrific memories of the 2004 tsunami, and the 2007(sic) terrorist attacks on the London Underground, for the sake of pepping up the film's conspicuous lack of drama".
British scriptwriter Peter Morgan was in London at the time of Tube and bus attacks. He noticed an awareness of mortality in faces of people around him. He felt it was something that we usually keep hidden and wanted to explore this in the film. He told the BBC that his intention wasn't to "exploit" the events but to reflect a world in which "the threat of death is ever present". "We are living at a time where attacks are random and sudden and have no boundaries and explanation. I wanted to write something that meant I could come to grips with the fact death was something I had to live with on a daily basis."
The timing of the film's release coming shortly after the inquests of the attacks probably hasn't helped the "insensitivity" claims. However, it could be argued that there's never a good time to make a fictional film about the attacks. Although using comedy is one way around this - as critics favourite Four Lions showed. Also last year's London River, about the aftermath of the attacks was called a "thoughtful, resonant meditation on 7/7" by The Guardian.
If you see Hereafter this weekend let us know what you think. In the meantime spot the Tube shots towards the end of the trailer above. Wonder if Eastwood actually travelled on the Tube while he was in London to get a feel for the real location?