Every Shooting Location in the Oscar Winning “Poor Things” Revealed

Bella Baxter’s journey in Poor Things is a global odyssey, though the actual shooting locations were much more contained. Under the direction of Yorgos Lanthimos, the movie has garnered widespread acclaim for its unique visual storytelling, securing four Oscars and two Golden Globes, with Emma Stone winning accolades for her portrayal.

Stone plays Bella, who has the mind of an unborn child but the physique of an adult woman, delivering a remarkable performance. The movie also received praise for its production design, which magically reimagined European locales into bizarre and captivating scenes.

The duo behind the movie’s award-winning production design, James Price and Shona Heath, shared insights with CN Traveller on crafting the film’s universe. Set in the 1880s, Poor Things blends elements of sci-fi and fantasy to create an intentionally perplexing atmosphere.

The narrative follows Bella Baxter, brought to life by Godwin Baxter in London, as she ventures through Lisbon, Alexandria, and Paris, culminating in her return to London by the story’s close.

1. Budapest Sound Stages

Poor Things was predominantly filmed in Budapest on sound stages, as director Lanthimos insisted on constructing all the settings. For instance, the Lisbon scenes were filmed on a vast stage, crafting an otherworldly version of the city that suggests Lisbon without mirroring it exactly.

Similarly, the ship scenes were produced on a sound stage. The design of these sets echoes the aesthetic of vintage monster flicks, which serve as an inspiration for Poor Things.

Every Shooting Location in the Oscar Winning “Poor Things” Revealed
Bella | Source: IMDb

Lanthimos envisioned the set design to evoke the feel of a 1930s movie yet infused with contemporary technology. The sets featured grand, colorful skylines, created through physical construction, painting, or displayed on large LED screens.

This design choice plays a pivotal role in the narrative, offering a stark contrast to the monochrome imagery of Bella’s London residence. Shona Heath explained that the use of color was intended to symbolize Bella’s awakening to the vibrant world and its cultures around her.

2.Woods Outside Budapest

Shona Heath points out that a mere “5% of the film was shot in actual locations.” Among these is a forest area, a brief 20-minute journey from the heart of Budapest, as noted by James Price.

In the concluding segments of Poor Things, the characters Bella Baxter and her spouse, Max McCandles (played by Ramy Youssef), are depicted meandering and engaging in conversation within these woods.

Despite the use of real settings, identifying them might be difficult since, according to Heath, “The real sites we utilized were extensively altered for Poor Things, with the hope that they would be unrecognizable.”

3. Metropolitan Ervin Szabó Library, Budapest

In the third act of Poor Things, Christopher Abbott is introduced as Alfie Blessington. He portrays the former spouse of the woman whose body Bella Baxter now occupies, post-reconstruction by Godwin Baxter.

Every Shooting Location in the Oscar Winning “Poor Things” Revealed
Bella and Max | Source: IMDb

A significant portion of the climax unfolds in his residence, which is among the limited actual locations featured in the film. The exterior of his home is depicted with a miniature model, and the interior scenes were shot in the Metropolitan Ervin Szabó Library, a part of Budapest’s vast library system.

The film often employs miniatures to set the scene for various locations, including the boat.

4. Old Television Building, Budapest

The London medical school featured in Poor Things, where the character Godwin Baxter works and Bella comes to life, was filmed at an authentic site. James Price revealed that they shot the scenes in “the former television building located centrally in the city, close to the Parliament.”

In the movie, Lanthimos filled this space with eccentric personalities and odd hybrids, such as a duck/goat and a goose/dog. These fantastical elements render the true location almost unrecognizable in the film.

5. Crypt Beneath A Church, Outskirts Of Budapest

As Poor Things draws to a close, Bella Baxter and Max McCandles’ wedding unfolds in a church, specifically within its crypts, before being disrupted by Alfie. The scene was filmed in an actual church, or more precisely, in the crypts below.

Shona Heath explains that they styled the church setting with a bold, M.C. Escher-inspired black-and-white, and a solid Brutalist design, which complemented the crypts’ ambience. The creative effort put into Poor Things is truly remarkable, justifying the numerous awards, critical praise, and commercial triumph it has achieved.

6. About Poor Things

Poor Things is a 2023 black comedy fantasy film directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and written by Tony McNamara. Starring Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe, Ramy Youssef, Christopher Abbott and Jerrod Carmichael, it is based on the 1992 novel of the same name by Alasdair Gray.

The plot focuses on Bella Baxter, a young Victorian woman who, after being crudely resurrected by a scientist following her suicide, runs off with a debauched lawyer to embark on an odyssey of self-discovery and sexual liberation. The film released on December 8, 2023.

Pratyasha Sarkar

Pratyasha Sarkar

Officially a student of literature, but unofficially a defence lawyer of fictional characters. I am mostly either feasting on chocolate chip cookies or binge watching sitcoms. Also, I firmly believe mint ice cream tastes like toothpaste.


Leave a Reply