Mamma Mia! | 2008
Yes, the film of the phenomenally successful stage musical is blatantly contrived and shamelessly manipulative, but you’d need to be the world’s grumpiest curmudgeon not to be swept along by its bouncy enthusiasm. And the film’s trump card is the gorgeous Greek scenery.
But let's get the intro out of the way first, and the three settings for the three putative fathers. The home of uptight Harry (Colin Firth) is upmarket Maida Vale in West London. Adventurer Bill (Stellan Skarsgaard) is briefly seen racing through Marrakech, Morocco. And high-flier Sam (Pierce Brosnan) works in ‘New York’ – well, not quite. The ‘Manhattan’ office block is the Lloyds Building in the City of London.
The island setting of ‘Kalokairi’ is, of course, fictitious. And – even worse – there is no ‘Villa Donna’. The entire hotel complex was built – on the huge 007 Stage, as it happens – at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire.
Most of the island filming is on Skopelos, one of the Sporades islands, in the northwest Aegean Sea.
Skopelos itself does not have an airport – the closest air connections are on the island of Skiathos and at Volos on the mainland. From here there are daily connections (during the summer) by boat and catamaran or flying dolphin (a hydrofoil).
The island's main town is also called Skopelos, and ‘Villa Donna’ supposedly stands above Glysteri Beach, which is about about three miles to the north.
It's on the east side of Skopelos, with an amazing view of the St Nikolaos Bell Tower, of the church of Aghios Nikolaos, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) sends out the three wedding invitations that set the plot in motion.
It’s at Glysteri, on the northern coast of Skopelos, that Amanda reads the diary to her friends. It’s also where Sophie, Bill, Harry and Sam leap from rocks into the sea during Our Last Summer. The rocky peninsula, above Glysteri Beach, is not easily accessible.
When Harry and Sam first arrive, though, in identical cabs, the harbour is the Old Port on Skiathos, the neighbouring island to the west of Skopelos, and smallest of the Sporades.
The beach bar for Does Your Mother Know? was built on Kastani Beach, alongside Milia over on the western coast of Skopelos, which is also where Sky (Dominic Cooper) and Sophie sing Lay All Your Love On Me, as Sky’s stag pals appear from beneath the waves.
Donna greets the arrival of Rosie (Julie Walters) and Tanya (Christine Baranski) on the jetty at Damouhari, which is not on Skopelos at all, but in the Mouresi area on the eastern Pelion coast of mainland Greece, about 25 miles northwest of the Sporades. The same spot is used for the climax of Dancing Queen.
It’s back to Skopelos, on the island’s northwestern tip, for the wedding. There's plenty of choice – the island has more than 360 churches and chapels, but the one seen in the film is the chapel of Agios Ioannis Prodromos, near the town of Glossa. Perched atop a 100 metre promontory, it’s a stunning location, but the chapel itself was glammed up a little for the movie (and the interior is a set built at Pinewood). You won't be surprised to learn that the island is now a top wedding destination.