European Vacation: Toppling Stonehenge, American Style!

photos are stills from this Youtube video of the Stonehenge scene in European Vacation

We know we’ve mentioned it before, but this one seems like it should have its own post, possibly the last in our film series for a while. The movie’s title is European Vacation, but everyone knows it as National Lampoon’s European Vacation, one of a series of movies in which the Griswold/Griswald family, led by parents Clark (Chevy Chase) and Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) go on disastrous holidays.

Of course they hit the big European tourist spots, and Stonehenge is not left out. As they leave, Clark Griswald makes a speech about it having stood the test of time, “a thing of glory for a million generations to see.” He then gets into the car, backs into one of the stones, and knocks the entire circle (set up almost like a spiral) down. (See video of the Stonehenge scene here.)

Okay, haha, no denying it’s funny in a broad slapstick way. But our job is to look at the replica or replicas involved. It is a peculiar one, a circle of tall thin trilithons, no attempt at making it a linteled circle like the real one, with a circle rather than a horseshoe of taller trilithons inside.

No bluestones, understandably. They would just complicate the scene and most people don’t know they’re there (or else think the sarsens are bluestones). No ditch and bank visible, but the landscape in the background looks enough like Salisbury Plain to pass.

All in all, although its peculiar proportions put us in mind of the mini-Stonehenge in the gardens at Cockington Green in Australia near Canberra, it’s not a bad replica when compared to many others. We do not know for certain whether only one replica was used to make the movie or if a miniature model was used for some shots of the monument falling down.

Score: 7½ druids for this movie replica, made to fall. A note to British and European Stonehenge fans: next time you object to the barriers that keep tourists from walking among and touching the stones at Stonehenge, remember the Griswalds and think whether it may not be better that English Heritage is keeping the Americans out! Who knows how many shocking offenses have been averted.

Of course there are even British people who take it as a challenge to somehow topple the monument, and those who claim Stonehenge as it stands was an invention of the English tourist industry of the early 1900’s and not worth knocking down. This is the internet age. People will say and do anything. There’s even a blog about Stonehenge replicas. We kid you not!


Another Movie Replica: The Black Knight, 1954

photos are stills from this clip posted on TCM

We were going to do one post listing all the movies we know of so far that contain Stonehenge in some form. We’d already posted the movies This Is Spinal Tap and The Colour of Magic, and we thought we could round up the ones that were left in one quick post. Then we watched this video again. Lolz!!!1! It deserves a post of its own!

A synopsis of this section of the movie (from a full synopsis on this page) reads: “John, as the Black Knight, rides off to summon Arthur’s knights, as Linet, the abbot and the remaining monks are taken by the Vikings to the mysterious rocks of Stonehenge, where they are readied as sacrifice. Arthur, John and the knights arrive in time to rescue Linet and the clergymen and destroy Stonehenge.” But, trust us, this does not capture the madness of the wildly dancing girls, the heavily made-up so-called virgin about to be sacrificed, and the wild priests or druids presiding over it, let alone the dramatic rescue of said virgin and the about-to be roasted monks. Don’t you just hate those evil pagans?! 😉

Then, of course, there’s the pulling down of the stones at the end of the sequence. They come down quite easily,  pulled by knights on horses.  Think how that would have impacted on Britain’s tourist trade! Reminds us of National Lampoon’s European Vacation in which Chevy Chase backs into one trilithon and the whole thing goes down like dominoes. D***ed Americans!!

Score for this replica: 7½ druids. We think they did a fine job of mocking up what Stonehenge might have looked like long ago, considering it was 1954. As a matter of fact, we think they may have used the Maryhill replica (see here for our post on that one) for this aerial shot and just mocked up the parts they needed for the close-ups. Still, nicely done.

Our thanks to Bob Bradlee aka StonehengeGuy for steering us to this classic Stonehenge depiction. It is good to laugh!