Alongside with its booming buildings and hectic lifestyle, Baku has had its fair share to host scenes for some internationally-acclaimed movies. Below are the films that didn’t miss unique atmosphere of Baku for exquisite movie experience.
James Bond: The World is Not Enough
19th installment of the Bond series revolved around the control of the world’s oil supply. Not surprisingly, this made Baku and its oil field scenery a natural place for certain shootings in the film, which is why one of the cinematographers (Ali Hoomani) responsible for the location management contacted the Studios working on this project to consider Baku and the rest is history. The shootings mainly took place on the south west side of Baku, on the very edge of the city among oil fields sitting opposite the Caspian Sea. The public transport does not go to those sites so it would pay off to hire a driver for a short trip, plus it would be a good chance to explore the sights of Mud Volcanoes and Gobustan along the ride.
Now more about the movie, Bond’s car, BMW Z8, was featured in a high-speed chase along Bibi-Heybat oilfields and part of Baku. Interesting fact: the car was not on sale during the shooting and went on sale in 2000. “James Bond: The World is Not Enough” premiered on November 19, 1999. The current IMDB score is 6.4.
The Diamond Arm
The Diamond Arm is a Soviet comedy film, which was released in 1969. The film features two of my greatest comedic actors of the Soviet era: Yuri Nikulin and Andrei Mironov. The film went on to become a cult classic and is considered as one of the finest comedy movies of the Soviet era. The plot of the movie is loosely based on the real-life event, in which Swiss smugglers tried to transport jewels in an orthopedic cast. Interesting fact: American cars (a 1954 Chevrolet 210 and 1955 Buick) can be spotted in the oriental city streets (you guessed it, it’s Baku!) which was a rarity since the US had sanctions with the USSR, not involving in trade matters. The current IMDB rating of the movie is 8.5. The Diamond Arm is a fun movie for occasional viewing with family and friends. Another interesting fact about the movie is that in the place (Apotheke Chikanuk in the movie) where Yuri Nikulin fell over in the movie during the shooting in Baku, a café bearing the saying after the fall, “Cert Poberi” was opened. For this occasion only, every year, a lot of tourists who watched the movie visit this iconic place for the pictures and re-living the moment from the movie. Worth paying a visit, right?)
Amphibian Man is a Soviet Science fiction film that was released on 19 December, 1962. Although little known in the West, this masterpiece managed to hold the record of the highest-grossing domestic film at Soviet box office until 1965. The plot revolved around the man called Ichthyander (from Greek: fish+man) who was surgically altered to live under the sea and fisherman’s girl, who falls in love with this protagonist. Set in Argentina (yet shot in the streets of Baku, Azerbaijan), the film has a huge focus, besides its lost-love-tragedy concept, on greed and commercial exploitation, which was most probably influenced under the Soviet regime. As per the plot, the girl’s greedy father, having learnt that Ichthyander is able to live underwater, forces him to collect pearls by keeping his daughter separated from him. The plot of the movie is quite similar to “The Shape of Water (2017)” movie in terms of the amphibian man and woman who falls in love with her; the difference is the lovers in “The Shape of Water” communicate through sign language and most importantly, at the end, they get back together. The current IMDB rating of the movie is 7.2 and it is one of those one-time watchable movies at its best.
Ali and Nino
Ali and Nino is a British drama war romance based on Kurban Said’s novel of the same name. The movie was first featured in the Sundance film festival on January 27, 2016. There, many critics reviewed the movie as emotionally uninvolving and having only passing interest to wider audiences. Later in October of 2016, it was screened in many cinemas in Baku, Azerbaijan. The plot is based on the love story in the times of war, turbulence and faith in the face of all odds. Ali is a Muslim from Azerbaijan who lives in the oil rich city of Baku Baku; Nino is a Georgian Orthodox Christian who also happens to live in Baku. During the movie, Ali’s friend helps to bring the two families together for the acceptance of the marriage at the same time when the World War I breaks out. While watching the movie for the first time, I noticed the relationships within and between Georgian and Azerbaijani families were depicted in detail for the viewers to grasp the complex yet conservative nature of those times. Many of the scenes in Azerbaijan were shot in the historical part of Baku called, Icharishahar (the Old City). The current IMDB rating of the movie is 7.1. Again, a one-time watchable movie bound to be recommended to friends or acquaintances.
Assassination Attempt (Tegeran 43: Spy Ring)
Tegeran 43 is a USSR-France-Switzerland drama film, which was released in July 1981. The events in the movie are related to the Operation Long Jump, the gist of which was to assassinate Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the Tehran conference of 1943 by the Nazi Germany. Most of the scenes in Baku were shot in Icharishahar, as some parts back then resembled the streets of Tehran in Iran. The film involved the international cast, such as Alain Delon, Igor Kostelevsky, Natalya Belokhvostikova, Armen Dzhigarkhanyan and with a small part, deceased Azerbaijani actor, Alasgar Mamedoglu. The film won the Golden Prize of the 12th Moscow International Film Festival. Moreover, theme song of the movie, “Une Vie D’amour” performed by Charles Aznavour, became very popular in Russia and abroad, till today considered as one of the best singles of his. The plot of the movie rolls around the combination of espionage, terror and love. The protagonists who fall in love with each other face deadly attacks on three leaders and even though the attack is prevented, the perpetrators and protagonists’ path cross once again after 30 years. The movie itself currently has 7.1 IMDB rating and it is quite re-watchable time and time again.