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Manorbier Castle is the location for a new pounds 5.5m feature film; CINEMA: Pembrokeshire offers the film-maker a rich variety of locations and it is hoped I Captured the Castle will attract other films and tourists.

Byline: CERI JONES

ONE of the most picturesque castles in Wales is to provide the backdrop for a major new film.

Manorbier Castle near Tenby is the setting for a new pounds 5.5m film called I Captured the Castle.

Produced by the man behind the Oscar-winning Shakespeare in Love, the film stars Tara Fitzgerald, Henry Thomas of ET fame, along with Marc Blucas from TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Filming at the castle started on Monday and is due to last for another week.

I Captured the Castle is a love story based on the novel of the same name by Dodie Smith, author of 101 Dalmatians.

Also starring Rose Bryne, Bill Nighy and newcomer Romola Garai, it is set in the 1930s and tells the story of an impoverished family living in a ruined castle. The two daughters of a writer fall in love with two American men who inherit the estate.

The film is produced by David Parfitt, who also produced Shakespeare in Love, for independent film company Trademark Films, along with BBC Films and Distant Horizon.

Directed by Tim Fywell, a release date has yet to be set.

A spokeswoman for Trademark Films said the castle was exactly what they had wanted.

He said, "It fitted the bill. The director and designer loved it and knew they could work with it."

Linda Thomas, who runs the castle, said filming had already provided a fillip for the area with cast and crew staying in hotels in Tenby and Saundersfoot. She said, "It's brought a lot of work into the area in what is generally a quiet time of year."

The 12th Century castle, which overlooks the Irish Sea was the birthplace of Gerald of Wales, who famously described it as "the pleasantest spot in Wales".

It has featured in several film and TV productions in the past, but this is its first major film in recent years.

Len Mullins, of Pembrokeshire County Council, said Manorbier was one of the most beautiful of many castles in the county.

"We hope when people see it and its dramatic location on screen it will inspire them and other film makers to come down and see the area for themselves, " said Mr Mullins.

Pembrokeshire film buff Keith Worthing said the county had a wealth of castles, historic buildings and locations, which could be used as a backdrop for films.

"There's no time or place that cannot be caught on film in Pembrokeshire, yet incredibly we are so little used. Hopefully, this film will help show what we have to offer."

Although Pembrokeshire's role in films began at the very dawn of the cinema when showman William Haggar used county locations for some of his silent works in the early 19th Century, its potential has been little developed over more recent years.

The last film to be shot in the county was Merlin, starring Sam Neill, which was filmed at Marloes.

In 1997 Manorbier Castle and Tenby played a role in the little-seen film of the Wilkie Collins novel Basil, starring Derek Jacobi and Christian Slater.

Further back, Under Milk Wood with Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole and Moby Dick , starring Gregory Peck, were shot at Fishguard, while Pembroke Castle was used for Jabberwocky and A Lion in Winter.

CAPTION(S):

STAR: Tara Fitzgerald has a major role in I Captured the Castle PLEASANTEST SPOT: 12th Century Manorbier Castle
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 28, 2001
Words:568
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