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Does it matter if a movie set in America is filmed in Romania? Does it matter if the location has been generated by computer? The answer is no, and yes

By Mark Cousins   December 2004

Think of Taxi Driver and its unforgettable depiction of the teeming nightlife in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen district. Or the Rome of Bicycle Thieves. Or Los Angeles in Michael Mann’s Heat. Or the Iranian villages in the films of Makhmalbaf. In each case the setting is not just the world out of which the characters grow, but also, somehow, the reason why the film exists.

This is not always the case with great movies. The oft-quoted example is Casablanca, not a foot of which was shot on location. Studio filming lent it a seductive veneer. The flaws and accidents of real…

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