One Day, the 2011 romantic drama based on the bestselling novel by David Nicholls, follows the lives of Emma and Dexter, two friends who meet on the night of their graduation and revisit each other every year on the same date. The movie, directed by Lone Scherfig and starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, spans two decades and three cities, showcasing the beauty and charm of Edinburgh, Paris, and London. Here are some of the locations where the film was shot and how they reflect the characters’ journey.
Edinburgh: the beginning of a friendship
The film opens in Edinburgh, where Emma and Dexter graduate from the University of Edinburgh in 1988. The Scottish capital serves as the backdrop for their first encounter and the start of their friendship. The film features iconic landmarks such as Arthur’s Seat, the hill overlooking the city where Emma and Dexter watch the sunrise; the Royal Mile, the historic street that leads to the Edinburgh Castle; and the Victoria Street, the colorful and curved road that inspired Diagon Alley in Harry Potter.
Edinburgh also represents the contrast between Emma and Dexter’s personalities and backgrounds. Emma is a working-class, idealistic, and aspiring writer, while Dexter is a wealthy, carefree, and aimless playboy. The film captures this difference by showing Emma’s modest flat in the Bruntsfield area, and Dexter’s luxurious hotel room in the Balmoral Hotel, one of the most prestigious hotels in the city.
Paris: the city of missed opportunities
Paris, the city of love, is where Emma and Dexter’s relationship could have taken a different turn, but also where they face some of their biggest challenges. The film shows Emma living in a small and shabby apartment in the 11th arrondissement, working as a waitress in a Mexican restaurant, and dating a failed comedian. Dexter, on the other hand, visits Paris as a successful TV presenter, staying in a chic hotel in the 8th arrondissement, and enjoying the nightlife and the company of various women.
The film also features some of the most beautiful and romantic spots in Paris, such as the Pont des Arts, the bridge where lovers attach padlocks as a symbol of their commitment; the Canal Saint-Martin, the scenic waterway where Emma and Dexter have a picnic; and the Montmartre, the hilltop district where Emma and Dexter share a kiss in front of the Sacré-Cœur Basilica.
Paris is also the city where Emma and Dexter’s friendship is tested by jealousy, resentment, and distance. The film portrays this tension by showing Emma’s frustration with Dexter’s shallow and arrogant behavior, and Dexter’s realization that he is unhappy and lonely despite his fame and fortune.
London: the place where everything changes
London, the capital of England and the United Kingdom, is where Emma and Dexter spend most of their time and where their lives change dramatically. The film depicts London as a vibrant and diverse city, where Emma and Dexter pursue their careers, find new partners, and grow as individuals. The film also showcases some of the most iconic and historic locations in London, such as the Trafalgar Square, the public square where Emma and Dexter celebrate New Year’s Eve; the Hampstead Heath, the large park where Emma and Dexter go cycling; and the St Pancras Station, the railway station where Emma and Dexter say goodbye.
London is also the city where Emma and Dexter’s friendship evolves into something more, but also where they face tragedy and loss. The film illustrates this by showing Emma and Dexter’s reunion after years of separation, their decision to move in together, and their plans for the future. The film also shows the devastating accident that ends Emma’s life, and the impact it has on Dexter and everyone who knew her.
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