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Tuesday September 25th 2018

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 | 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 filming location: Palacio d'Abraxas, Noisy-le-Grand, France
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 location: the team is nearly engulfed by oil in the Capitol: Palacio d'Abraxas, Noisy-le-Grand, France

Filmed back to back with Mockingjay – Part 1, the final film in the series was also based in Atlanta with location filming in Europe, around Berlin and Paris.

Discovering that Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) has been weaponised, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is more determined than ever to get to the Capitol and kill President Snow (Donald Sutherland), but before she can get to the Capitol, there’s the small matter of taking full control of District 2.

The District 2 base at which she lands is the main entrance to the now-disused Tempelhof Airport, to the south of Berlin.

Originally built in 1927 but massively extended by the Nazi government of the Thirties, Tempelhof was one of Europe's three major pre-World War II airports, along with London's Croydon Airport and the old Paris-Le Bourget Airport. It was central to the Berlin Airlift of 1948-49, when much-needed supplies were delivered by air to the blockaded West Berlin.

The airport buildings were previously used for the grim 2002 sci-fi Equilibrium, with Christian Bale, and its grounds are now open as a public park, Tempelhofer Feld (Tempelhof Field).

It's here there's a fractious discussion on tactics for the attack on the Capitol between those, including Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), who favour all-out bombing and Katniss, who pushes for a more measured response.

In the end, refugees are given a chance to flee the Capitol, but Katniss’s reward is to be shot during the confusion. She survives of course and, despite being briefly hospitalised, is soon sneaking aboard an aircraft and heading unofficially back to District 2.

When Commander Paylor (Patina Miller) gives that rousing speech exhorting the rebels to march into the Capitol, we’re now at the rear of the ever-adaptable Templhof.

Katniss is informed she’s to be part of a ‘star squad’, kept away from the frontline fighting to appear in propaganda broadcasts. Like that’s going to happen.

This new squad, including Gale and Finnick (Sam Claflin) and under the command of Dobbs (Mahershala Ali), is soon making its way through the deserted outskirts of the Capitol.

Three different locations – in Berlin and Paris – are pieced together to represent the deserted city.

The outer area of bombed-out high-rise apartment blocks is Krampnitz Kaserne, in Fahrland, just north of Potsdam near Berlin, a military complex built by the Germans during the period of the country's rearmament between the World Wars. After WWII, the complex of more than 50 buildings was used by Soviet troops until being abandoned in 1992, since when it’s provided a backdrop for Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, Bryan Singer's Valkyrie, The Monuments Men and Enemy At The Gates.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 filming location: Palacio d'Abraxas, Noisy-le-Grand, France
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 location: the team makes its way through the Capitol: Palacio d'Abraxas, Noisy-le-Grand, France

These are just the suburbs. As the team gets closer to the city centre, the architecture becomes distinctly more extravagant.

The enclosed circle where the team is almost engulfed by a tidal wave of CGI goo is at Noisy-le-Grand, a self-consciously modern satellite town about twenty miles east of Paris on the RER line, en route to Disneyland Paris.

It’s architect Ricardo Bofill's 1984 Palacio d’Abraxas Apartments, Place d'Abraxas, off Boulevard du Mont d'Est, west of the town centre. It’s a spectacular, bizarre and, in places rundown, housing estate which you might remember from Terry Gilliam’s 1985 fantasy, Brazil.

According to director Francis Lawrence, sightseers aren’t made particularly welcome though I had no problem visiting here a while ago. The exteriors are breathtaking but, being social housing, those lavish interiors had to be created on studio sets.

Avoiding 'pods' (booby-trapped devices) the team moves down into the subway system beneath the city.

Those bright orange tiles will be familiar to anyone who's watched a film made in Berlin recently. They're the walls of the parking area beneath Berlin's ICC (Internationales Congress Centrum), in Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf. One of the largest conference centres in the world, the ICC was used for conventions, theatrical productions and concerts but, although only opened in 1979, it was closed in 2014 due to asbestos contamination.

Its lower level has been used as ‘Moscow Airport' in 2004’s The Bourne Supremacy, as ‘Bucharest’ in Captain America: Civil War and has also been seen in Joe Wright’s 2011 Hanna and Charlize Theron spy thriller Atomic Blonde.

Deeper down into the system, the water-filled tunnels where the team is attacked by lizard mutts, are studio sets, but it’s back to ICC Messedamm as they make their way to the surface, finally emerging into another flourish of preposterously flamboyant architecture.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 filming location: Ivry Sur Seine, Val de Marne, France
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 location: the team is hidden in the Capitol by Tigris: Ivry Sur Seine, Val de Marne, France | Photograph: Wikimedia / Chabe01

The strange angular neighbourhood of the city where they're sheltered by Tigris (Eugenie Bondurant) is Ivry sur Seine, a commune in the Val-de-Marne department, about 3 miles southeast from central Paris.

Again, it’s social housing, this time designed by architect Jean Renaudie: the three main buildings Danielle Casanova, Jeanne Hachette and Jean-Baptiste Clément are named, respectively, after a Communist resistant to the Nazi occupation, a 16th-century French heroine, and a member of the 1871 Paris Commune.

Like Noisy Le Grand it’s a huge, rather patronising, folly largely disliked by the people who have to live there but adored by architectural students and designers who seem eager to move in and gentrify the area.

Disguised among the crowd of refugees, Katniss and Gale head toward Snow’s mansion where the populace has been guaranteed protection. The final approach to the mansion uses, as in the earlier films, the exterior of Swan House, Atlanta, extended digitally and added to a huge outdoor set.

As they are about to be discovered, a savage air attack on the Capitol by the rebels achieves its objective, but at a terrible cost in collateral damage. Among the helpless refugees killed is Katniss’s sister, Primrose (Willow Shields).

There's no sense of victory when Katniss finally gets to enter the Snow mansion, which is now a mash up of two locations. The exterior is Swan House, the interior largely Château de Voisins, the neoclassical mansion in Louveciennes, about 12 miles east of Paris, which was used for the mansion exteriors in Mockingjay – Part 1.

The room where Katniss finally says goodbye to Gale after he admits his complicity in the air attack, is back at Swan House, but the rear of the mansion facing the garden is Château de Voisins.

There’s no greenhouse at either location, by the way. That was nothing more than a studio set built in Atlanta.

As was the grand Avenue of Tributes, though the set was greatly extended digitally.

The city having fallen, Snow is to be publicly executed on the Avenue and Katniss is an eager volunteer to carry out the task. Things don’t go quite according to plan and Katniss finds herself arrested.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 filming location: Altes Stadthaus, Klosterstraße, Berlin
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 location: the exterior of the Altes Stadthaus, Klosterstraße, Berlin

The small and windowless – but nonetheless impressive – room in the Capitol, where Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) reads a letter from Plutarch explaining all, is in the Altes Stadthaus (Old Town Hall) in Berlin.

Old Town Hall or New Town Hall? You may ask. The impressive municipal building extending from Jüdenstraße to Klosterstraße was built in 1911 to supplement a lack of pace in the nearby Rotes Rathaus (Red Town Hall), and is confusingly known by both names.

The New Town Hall was eventually dubbed the Old Town Hall during the post-WWII division of the city but, following reunification, reverted to its original name. Confusing? Yes.

Katniss’s cell is the Town Hall’s foyer, but the building’s most famous space is the famed Bärensaal, or Bear Hall, another location you can see in Equilibrium. And generally, films are the only way you’ll see the Town Hall interior since it’s is not generally open to visitors.