VATICAN LIBRARY – BIBLIOTECA ANGELICA
The book-made Robert Langdon as well as his movie version impersonated by Tom Hanks, have both succeed in attaining a commitment to approvally intrude into the interior of the Vatican Library, a location, has been initially out of permitted access for a filming crew, who undertook a mission to ensoul Dan Brown’s story on a big screen. As soon as on June 17, 2008, on the threshold of the third-in-row weeks of the exterior shooting in Rome, the filmmakers finally attained the never-enough-to-be-regretted BIBLIOTECA ANGELICA, internationally praised for its collection up to 200 000 of manuscripts and books. Resorted to a cinematic trick, the filmmaking entourage of Ron Howard did take advantage of the exterior courtyard and possessed a short scene within the real-world public library of Rome, on the other bank of the river Tiber as to the Vatican. At the same time, the entrance to the secured section as well as the thrilling scenes with the loss of the electrification would be later taken within a studio set back in Los Angeles.
As soon as Robert Langdon, Dr. Vittoria Vetra, and inspector Olivetti angle their walking way into a cozy square beyond the auto barrier, we need a little effort to take note of a soldier of the ‘Cohors pedestris Helvetiorum a sacra custodia Pontificis’ or simply ‘Swiss Guard’. This initial cinematic trick was intentionally attributed to the set in order to punctuate the fact of the approaching to the ‘holy of holies’ of the Vatican. As a matter of fact, Tom Hanks, Ayelet Zurer and Pierfrancesco Favino making their way into Piazza di Sant Agostino, a cozy square, once named after the Renaissance church of the same name, had been built back in the XV century with the marble blocks of the Coliseum. In fact, an entrance to the Biblioteca Angelica could be found no further than a few meters next to the marble stairs of the temple. The magic of movie making leaves us with no more than a ‘VA’ letters within a stone plate hinting the ‘VATICAN’, though the actual anaglyph proclaims: ‘BIBLIOTECA ANGELICA’, as well as its mirrored twin adds: ‘ARCADIA: ACCADEMIA LETTERARIA ITALIANA’, encrypting another institution within this walls since 1940.
The interior scene takes us, along with Robert and Vittoria, to the incrusted staircase and later a narrow reception premise, actually a working place of a library sectarian, to follow to a spacious reading hall. These few seconds of a movie indeed depicted the real reading hall of the Biblioteca Angelica public library, which would end with no more than bookshelves. The final editing has skillfully shifted the camera perspective in order to show us a modern-like entrance to the Vatican Library with the inevitable swiss guard on the outlook. This very set dimension was made as a studio set far from Rome.
On June 9-10, 2008 the citizens of Rome, as well as thousands of tourists from almost every corner of the planet, had a chance to underline an exotic liveliness within PIAZZA DELLA ROTONDA square. The granted permission to a limited-in-time yet exclusive access to one of the most famous city landmarks allowed the filming crew, supervised by Ron Howard in person, to achieve two pre-planned goals. The early hours provided means to erect a rail track for the cameras, as well as to enforce a barrier between the crew and tourists, a necessity to plan the best perspective of the scene. Dozens of the ‘directable’ movie extras were to crowd the square forming a vision of the masses with no interest to Tom Hanks making his way to the Pantheon. The backstage commentaries of Ron Howard revealed the fact, that the majority of the onlookers did not interfere with the filming process, yet the movie succeeded in masking the crowd into people beyond the police barrier (the means taken to reveal the prisoned cardinal).
ll while the actors were indeed present at the PIAZZA DELLA ROTONDA on the brink of the Pantheon, another master editing trick takes the viewer into the studio set, lavishly complimented with the CGI interior, not but recreating the historic sanctuary. The scenes inside the Pantheon demanded an erection of a separate indoor movie set with the cradle of Rafael of 9 meters high as the only actual prop. The floor would later be digitally renovated as well as the green-screen walls would be digitized to fit the actual Pantheon. In this cinematic respect, once Robert and Vittoria make the first steps into the Pantheon, the whole interior except one wall was made on a computer, based on photos and video of the actual Roman landmark.
SANTA MARIA DEL POPOLO
Less than 24 hours prior to the day Piazza Del Popolo witnessed the ablaze of the filming process with Ron Howard on supervision, a group of set designers had concealed the front-side of the local police station with scaffolds. The locals were brought to the notice, that the movie called ‘Obelisk’ would be shot within the next few days. The cover-up of the indeed movie title beyond the fictional euphemism is no less than a common practice that has been used for decades to reduce the public consideration of the shooting process. In the teeth of all trickery, any visitor of the square would have a chance to keep an eye on Dan Brown, the author of the original book, as well as director Ron Howard, Tom Hanks and an assemblage of actors and filmmakers.
We have a strong argument to pay a little notice to the retrospective statements of the ecclesiastic officials on their rejection of shooting inside the Santa Maria Del Popolo. The ‘Angels and Demons’ filming crew had been initially scheduled to recreate the vast majority of the interior scenes back in a studio, thus the ‘statement’ made 13 days after the exterior shooting was of no surprise to Ron Howard. The decorated police station is in fact located just a few meters opposite the actual Santa Maria Del Popolo church, a historical landmark to be included to the scene for a mere few seconds with blurred camera sharpness. All the interior scenes, including the ‘Chigi Chapel’ would be later recreated on a studio set in LA, also used to depict the inside space of the Maria Della Vittoria.
SAINT PETER’S SQUARE
The very fact, that the filming crew would experience an expectative ban on shooting within the Vatican had been initially of no doubt for any, who pays even a slight interest to the moviemaking, as well as the surface awaring on the news about the ‘Da Vinci Code’ disputes. All while a few people give a credit to the fact that the ‘Angels and Demons’ filmmakers found the public Saint Peter’s Square to be forbidden for their needs. The recognition of the fact, that one among the most important locations would have to be recreated with alabaster movie props and a CGI resulted in the approval of a sophisticatedly detailed data-finding in the history of the movie industry. A dedicated team was to spend weeks within the Saint Peter’s square incorporated with the crowds of tourists in order to capture hundreds of hours of video footage as well as thousands of photos from the site. Every single piece of the accumulated material would be later used to piece together the legendary square with an unprecedented level of the details, in fact enough not to give the majority of viewers clues to notice a substitution.
The initial phase of the works included a built-up of a giant scenery, one of the largest in movie history. The iconic site for millions of the Christians was partially rebuilt within a spacious parking area next to the Hollywood Park Racetrack in Los Angeles. The collected data made it possible to recreate the famous colonnade, the statues, a few obelisks and the front side of the Saint Peter’s basilica, a shooting basic for a number of scenes. In this respect, the thrilling scene with a search of the second cardinal left bleeding to death was shot within a studio open set in California, far from Rome. The very same location would be later refurbished to visualize the Piazza Navona Square. The absolute majority of the aerial perspective with crowds of people were steadily created with CGI animation, jointlessly incorporated into the movie. The specialists on visual effects completed an extensive homework on creating categories of the computerized extras, from the one standing motionless to those, scratching their noses.
MARIA DELLA VITTORIA
As soon as on June 21, 2008, the filming crew spent a few scheduled hours within Via Venti Settembre, a cozy street in the Eastern part of Rome at a stone’s throw from the Termini railway station. The actual agenda was beyond any difficulties and included a few shots of Robert Langdon, who accompanies police officers to enter Maria Della Vittoria church. Similar to Santa Maria Del Popolo, the filming crew considered oneself satisfied with only the outdoor perspectives and the actors in front of the location. All interior shots of the semi-horror scene of cremation of a cardinal were recreated within a studio set back in LA. For the reasons we can appreciate, the work next to the fire was possible only on a pavilion basis, under constant supervision. In addition to all obvious advantages of using the studio set, the indoor space was, in fact, larger than the one inside the real-world Maria Della Vittoria, which allowed to use the cameras on high to gain unique camera angles, out of reach in an actual church. The same interior was also used to recreate Santa Maria Del Popolo.
Another iconic Roman landmark was indeed visited by the filmmakers back in June 2008. A great many people have notice of the fact, that the actual deepness of the ‘Fountain of the Four Rivers’ would make it impossible for Robert Langdon to dive into the waters to save the cardinal. However, a few know that the square was rebuilt within the very parking place, previously used to piece together the Saint Peter’s square. Subsequent to the demolition of the previous set (Saint Peter’s square), it took six weeks to replica the Piazza Navona square with the replication of a fountain. As the professor takes the far distance view, we could experience the indeed Piazza Navona unless the next few steps and the editing trick, which takes us from Rome to the movie set in Los Angeles, a square replica in full size. The parts of the scenery were covered with the green screen for the upcoming CGI digitalization.
The defiant attitude of the clerical officials was not the only obstacle, that influenced the filming process of ‘Angels and Demons’. The ‘visit’ of the filmmakers to the ‘Ponte Sant Angelo’ bridge was initially scheduled on June 12, yet the upcoming reception of George W. Bush (the President of USA at that time) postponed the shooting until June 20. The behind-the-scenes materials included the above-average monologue of Tom Hanks, once taken into footage only a few hundred meters distanced from SANT ANGELO castle. A number of scenes were actually filmed inside the iconic historical landmark at the lapse of another three days.