Legendary Delph landmark features in new blockbuster film

VILLAGERS WILL get a shock when they see riveting scenes from a new blockbuster film…

Because St Thomas Church at Heights – a legendary landmark above Delph – ‘vanishes’ into an imaginary abyss in front of cinema audiences’ eyes.

Scenes for the multi-million pound film ‘A Monster Calls’ were shot at the centuries-old church in October 2015.

The manmade tree in heights church graveyard (picture by Michael Fancy)

The story tracks a small boy who seeks the help of a tree monster to cope with his single mother’s terminal illness.

The terrifying monster is embodied by Oscar-winning Liam Neeson, while Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones and Lewis MacDougall also star.

The giant, man-made yew tree costing £100,000, was meticulously constructed on the skyline surrounded by gravestones, tombs and crosses at the graveyard.

Using modern ageing techniques, the filmmakers added gravestones and tombs made in Spain and the normally pristine lawns were allowed to grow tangled to fit into the setting.

The story came to British writer Siobhan Dowd who was dying of cancer and author Patrick Ness, inspired by the idea, agreed to take it on which resulted in a modern classic published in 40 languages.

It won the prestigious Carnegie Medal for Ness and illustrator Jim Kay, whose images are a strong influence on the film, claimed the Kate Greenaway Medal for his artwork.

Directed by Spanish filmmaker JA Bayona, the film mixes fable and reality, animation and live action, special effects and sincerity aimed at both children and adults.

Saddleworth Team Vicar John Rosedale negotiated with the filmmakers, the Churches Conservation Trust and The Church Council.

He said: “I undertake a significant amount of children’s work in church and school and the film gave me an insight into how children’s behaviour might be hiding some inner emotion which they cannot clearly articulate to the outside world.”

During filming, fierce storms knocked the power out and the crews were for a time reliant on shelter at the nearby Royal Oak, courtesty of landlord Michael Fancy and his wife Sheila.

Michael said: “They were wonderful people – we even laid on an impromptu tapas night for them.

“I’ve got a copy of the book signed by the film director and I’m looking forward to seeing the film.”


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