29 Mar 2018

Harry Palmer: Billion Dollar Brain - Helsinki

The Swedish embassy in the middle, the city hall to the left.

In the third Harry Palmer film, Billion Dollar Brain from 1967, Harry Palmer is sent to Helsinki by a mysterious voice on the phone, to deliver a package. Harry is meeting the treacherous Anya on lake Töölö after which she takes him to an island outside the city, to see Dr Karna. Harry and Anya are taking a ferry from the harbour in central Helsinki. Visible in the background, behind Harry, is the Helsinki City Hall (left picture below) and the Swedish Embassy (right).

Helsinki in January 2018

Helsinki harbour in 1967 - the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in the background

In first scene in Helsinki, we find Harry Palmer on Mannerheimintie, which is the large central boulevard along which several of the city's main buildings can be found. In the background behind Harry in the picture below, is the Finnish parliament visible.

Harry finds a phone booth on Mannerheimintie and then goes to the department store Stockmann, also located on Mannerheimintie. As Harry is dressed for the London weather he buys an overcoat and a fur hat to stand the Finnish winter. Stockmann is the famous Finnish department store, established in 1862 and their flagship store is located downtown Helsinki on Mannerheimintie, quite close to where Harry makes the phone call.

The department store entrance in 1967

The building and the entrance seen in the film has been kept pretty much unchanged since 1967.

Stockmann in 2018, 50 years after Michael Caine's visit

From the ferry Anya points Harry to an island which she claims is owned by her father. Through the snowy mist, the contours of Sveaborg is visible. Sveaborg was a Swedish fortification built in the 1740's and several other scenes were filmed at Sveaborg. One has been covered here earlier. It is of course not a private island, but an UNESCO heritage site open to the public. Although several scenes were shot on this location, the real name of the island is never mentioned in the film.

Sveaborg in 1967
"Now is the winter of our discontent."

Sveaborg in January 2018

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