There is something about Budapest—something both very particular, yet very universal—that makes it a perfect stand-in location on film for many other cities. Thus far, Budapest has doubled for Moscow, New York, Munich, Buenos Aires, Paris, and Beijing, just to name a few. Certain locations in Budapest get more than their fair share of screen time, like the Chain Bridge and Parliament. Yet filmmakers are increasingly discovering District VIII as a viable, attractive location. We know this, because Taste Hungary too is located in District VIII, in the portion inside the Ring Road known as the Palace District. Our very own Bródy Sándor utca, where The Tasting Table is located, has been shut down many times for filming.
Filled with Beaux-Arts, Secessionist, and Gothic styles of architecture, it’s no surprise that the Eighth is getting some attention. Moreover, we’ve got one of the most photogenic locations in the city just around the corner: A Fővárosi Szabó Ervin Könyvtár, or The Metropolitan Szabó Ervin Library. With this in mind, we thought we would put together a list of films that have taken advantage of all the locations the Palace District has to offer. While this isn’t a comprehensive list, below are a few choice selections of films—international and local—that utilized locations near The Tasting Table, itself a mighty screen-friendly place.
Inferno. Bródy Sándor Street feeds into Guttenberg Square, the location for a pivotal scene in the thriller Inferno, starring Tom Hanks, which is the sequel to the smash book/film The Da Vinci Code. Unlikely as it sounds, Guttenberg Square was transformed into Rome for the occasion. The square has to be one of the great under-utilized locations in the city, with the beautiful but in-need-of-restoration Guttenberg building as its centerpiece. In Inferno the nearby Museum of Ethnography served as a section of the Palazzo Vecchio, and The Hungarian National Museum played Harvard University.
Red Sparrow. If ever there was an elegant location that communicates old-world grandeur, it’s the The Metropolitan Szabó Ervin Library on Szabó Ervin Square. Numerous local and international films have utilized its painstakingly restored interior as a location, most recently the Jennifer Lawrence-starring spy film Red Sparrow. Lawrence opted to hang out in more divey venues in her free time, but a visit to The Tasting Table would have given her the chance for the Red Sparrow to sample some red Merlot.
Duke of Burgundy. Peter Strickland’s eroticly charged tale of a same-sex couple engaged in a BDSM relationship also found a location in the Szabó Ervin Library, which suited the oddly Victorian feel of the film. The library is housed in Wenckheim Palace, a 19th-century Neo-Baroque gem, which is impressive from both outside and inside. English-born Strickland himself lives in Hungary, though there is no evidence that he ventured into The Tasting Table on a night off filming.
The Alienist: Caleb Carr’s juggernaut of a novel came out way back in 1994, but was only recently adapted for screen, in the form of a series. In this case, Budapest doubles as New York in 1896. That’s a tall order, but again the Szabó Ervin library’s lustrous interior, complete with a fireplace and spiral staircases, helped invoke a feeling of warmth and old-world charm that is typical of old New York brownstones.
A Good Day to Die Hard. Baross Street is captured in an action scene from the latest Die Hard installment, A Good Day to Die Hard, which finds a car exploding near Bruce Willis, something that seems to happen often in the franchise. In this case, the filmmakers may have been attracted to the city’s grittier side of the inner VIIIth—which Baross Street definitely has. Budapest stood in for Moscow this time around.
Plenty of other films have been shot in District VIII. These include but by no means are limited to: Monte Carlo, Casanova, Spy, and the Hungarian made Pál utcai fiúk (Paul Street Boys), Nyolcker (The Eight District) and Fateless. If you have noticed District VIII appear in other films we haven’t mentioned, let us know in the comments.