Oxford is well known as the inspiration for Philip Pullman 's ‘Dark Materials' Trilogy. The film uses the architecture of the university and the city as Lyra’s fascinating childhood world. A number of distinctive Oxford locations, including Bodleian Library (Old Bodleian, Radcliffe Camera), Radcliffe Square, Christ Church College, Queen's College, Christ Church meadow, and Exeter College are featured.
Jordan college, where Lyra lives, is based on Exeter College. Both J.R.R. Tolkien and Philip Pullman studied as an undergraduate here. The college is in the middle of Oxford since 1314. Lyra walked with Lord Arsiel in the Fellows' Garden after she saved him from the poison whisky. The impressive Radcliffe Camera was shown in the background.
Photographer: wikimedia/Adam Baxter
In the film Lyra and Mrs Coulter board a Zeppelin balloon that departs to London at the Tom Quad, the largest quad in Oxford, of Christ Church College.
The movie used computer generated imagery to transform Sir Christopher Wren's Old Royal Naval College, a World Heritage Site in Greenwich, to a vast and imposing palace for Magisterium, the religious organization wanting to control the world.
Old Royal Naval College's painted hall served as the Dining room at Jordan college. The Painted Hall is a baroque masterpiece painted by James Thornhill in the early 18th Century to display British sea power - a wonderful concoctions of ships, nymphs, royals dresed as classical figures etc.
Another essential London location was Londons Park Lane Hotel, providing the backdrop for the restaurant scene and the beauty parlor. Built in the 1920's, the grand Art Deco style Park Lane Hotel with a white stone façade and red mansard roof is set on Piccadilly in the exclusive central London area of Mayfair, half a mile from Buckingham Palace.
Hedsor House in Buckinghamshire was used as Mrs Coulter's home. Once the home of Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, the House has become one of the most picturesque and private wedding venues in the United Kingdom.
The house underwent a complete redecoration and refurbishment for the filming and the Golden Compass carpet is now a centre piece in the Domed hall.
Photographer: kingnilo on Flickr
The scenes in Trollesund, main port of the country of Lapland, are inspired by Bryggen in Bergen, on UNESCO's world heritage list since 1979, in Norway. Bryggen, the old wharf of Bergen, is a reminder of the town’s importance as part of the Hanseatic League’s trading empire from the 14th to the mid-16th century. Bryggen is one of the most visited attractions in Norway, visited by approx. 900,000 visitors every year.
The bleak, magical landscape of the high Arctic was filmed on Svalbard, the Kingdom of ice bear and the Norwegian island closest to the North Pole.
Svalbard means "cold coasts" and it covers 63,000 square kilometres. There are about 3,000 bears on Svalbard. This is one of the densest populations of polars in the world, so there's a good chance of spotting one on a snowmobile safari. Travellers are fascinated with its unique wildlife, wild nature and old mining towns.
Photographer: wikimedia/Hannes Grobe
Aurora appears at the finale of The Golden Compass - as a gateway through which Lyra follows in the steps of Lord Asriel to parallel, magical universes. The best time to see the aurora is between October and March.
Some of the action scenes was shot at Grindelwald , Switzerland. The village is located at 1,034 m (3,392 ft) above sea level in the Bernese Alps.