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Hollywood thrills for village used in Les Mis blockbuster
NEIGHBOURS who helped their village have a starring role in a new Hollywood blockbuster say they can’t wait to see it on the big screen.
Scenes for Les Miserables were filmed in Ewelme, near Wallingford, for five days last March.
The village welcomed the 250-strong film crew including Hollywood heart-throb Hugh Jackman.
Three sequences were filmed at Ewelme’s Church of St Mary the Virgin.
Rev Jonathan Meyer, priest in charge of the church, said: “The spiritual message of the film brought everyone together.”
He said he didn’t know why the church had been picked but added it may have been because it looked more continental than other English churches.
And he added he thought the proximity of nearby Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire may have played a part.
The church was paid £10,000 for helping with the film, which Mr Meyer said could help towards a new heating system. Les Miserables, written by French novelist Victor Hugo and published in 1862, tells the story of convict Jean Valjean in 19th century France, who is pursued by policeman Javert after breaking his parole.
In one scene, the church was cast as the home of the Bishop of Digne. In another a false wall was installed under the church’s main tower to transform it into a tavern.
A room in the adjoining almshouses was also transformed into the office of the mayor of Montreuil-sur-Mer. Mary Spence, 15, from Green Lane, said she caught a glimpse of Mr Jackman filming a sequence as Jean Valjean.
She added: “It was all very exciting, I am looking forward to seeing the film.”
Ewelme Community Shop cashed in on the population boom by selling cooked breakfasts for the whole week.
Community Shop chairwoman Sarah Maine, 51, who lives in Cat Lane, said: “It was very exciting, everyone was going out all times of day and night to try to watch the filming.”
The children from Ewelme Primary School were all invited to look around the tavern set.
The school’s bursar, Sandra Denton, said: “It was great. It looked completely different from the church and round the back it was all plywood.”
The school was paid £500 for the inconvenience caused by film crew, who shot some sequences from school property.The parish council was also paid £1,500 for the use of its recreation ground as a car park.
The film crew had to liaise with nearby RAF Benson.
PR officer Nikki Hamilton said the base changed its flying programme so flights were made before filming started in order to stop any background noise.
Scenes for the film were also shot at Winchester College and Pinewood Studios.
The film, which went on general release yesterday, has already been nominated for eight Oscars, nine Baftas, 11 Critics’ Choice Awards and three Golden Globes.
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