Airport teems with ‘Nazis’ for film shoot

A FILM crew descended on Shoreham Airport on Thursday to shoot a scene for a Hollywood film starring Dame Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds.

The airport was transformed into a wartime Vienna International Airport for the shootPicture: Eddie Mitchell
The airport was transformed into a wartime Vienna International Airport for the shootPicture: Eddie Mitchell

Film crews transformed the aerodrome into a Second World War Vienna International Airport, with soldiers in Nazi uniforms and swastikas flying from the flagpoles.

On the eve of the D-Day commemorations, the sight upset some residents, who said it was disrespectful and insensitive.

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But most were unmoved by the symbol of the Third Reich draped over the terminal building, on the grounds that it was only a film.

Photographer Peter Pollack managed to get inside the airport to take some pictures. “My first observation on entering the airport was the astounding abundance of security,” he said.

“They were everywhere. “Even thought I knew this was just a film, the large Swastika flags flying outside the entrance gave me an overwhelming feeling of uncertainty and danger.

One of Mr Pollack’s pictures was of a German motorcycle and side car.

“The picture itself was not intimidating until I saw the SS insignia on the number plate,” he said.

“The short time I had on set was very surreal, but made me think, what if?”

The film, directed by Simon Curtis, is based on the true story of Maria Altmann, a Jewish refugee in her 80s who takes on the government to recover artwork she believes rightfully belongs to her family.

Speaking on Friday, a spokesman for the film’s producers, which include BBC Films, said the airport was the only location that was in keeping with the period.

She said Thursday had been the only day it had been possible to film, and that shooting had been completed on the day.

She also revealed that stars such as Dame Helen Mirren had not been on site.

The scene being shot was of the main character Maria fleeing Austria and the Nazis.

In the film, she returns to the home country many years later as an elderly woman to reclaim her family’s artwork and possessions.

Martin Bloomfield recorded a video of the set which can be viewed on the Herald website.

“It was a good opportunity to see behind the scenes and the amount of effort that is required to produce a film,” he said.

“I suspect screen time will only be around two minutes.

“I just wonder whether the money the airport earns from facilitating the production will go towards the refurbishment of the building. There appears to be a number of urgent repairs required.

“I am sure post production will air brush over the cracks and missing plaster facade.

“When the film is released in 2015, hopefully the airport will make the most of the publicity to help promote itself and help the tourism in the area.

“It would be great to have an open air premiere there.”

Speaking about the Nazi regalia, Mr Bloomfield said: “I think it is a salutary reminder of what it could have been like if the Nazis had won the Second World War. The world would have been a very different place.”

An airport spokesman declined to comment.

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