One slightly unexpected effect of all the travel I’ve been doing recently is that I get a real, visceral sense of place from some slightly surprising places when I see them on the big screen. Having an idea of how the place really is, how people behave, how the air feels, how the food tastes, how it smells, a sense of what’s around the corner and beyond the camera. A sense of memory, not of imagination or of an idea of what a place should be.
San Francisco is one place this happens for and is perhaps not so surprising – it is a pretty distinctive place after all and the imagery was already familiar from countless movies and TV shows before I ever went there. What was a bit more surprising was a random suburban area in South Korea; Korea has had a real building boom amid all the growth it’s had which has resulted in a certain look and feel to the architecture and the cities being very common though not distinctive of any once place. That’s the space where a lot of the more “real world” Korean films are set, and it’s the one I recognise. Don’t think I’ve ever seen a film that ventured into Itaewon (이태원동), mind you.
It’s a much stronger feeling of recognition than I get with anywhere in the UK, I think purely due to the surprise factor. Having a good picture of Edinburgh isn’t a great surprise, finding how quickly I’ve built one up of places on other continents much more so.