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Behind The Creation
Most tales of high adventure unfold in exotic lands and long-ago times—but with NATIONAL TREASURE, a hunt for one of greatest bounties in history comes home to contemporary America. From Philadelphia's Independence Hall to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. to New York City's Trinity Church, Jerry Bruckheimer and Jon Turteltaub took the production to authentic U.S. historical locations—and recreated others—that have rarely been seen in the light of an action-adventure.

For Jerry Bruckheimer, there was no other choice but to go directly to the source of the film's inspiration: the most intriguing locales of America's past. "In order to create the strongest possible reality for the story, we had to go to the monuments and cities where so much of our American history has unfolded,” says Bruckheimer. "So, while the focus is always on the story and action that Ben Gates is wrapped up in, you get a little bit of a sense of history from the backgrounds and production design.”

Of course, the very idea of filming inside the nation's most hallowed and protected landmarks, especially in the post-9/11 world, was no simple proposition. The task of negotiating shooting permits for these often off-limits places fell to executive producer and long-time Bruckheimer associate Barry Waldman. Waldman not only negotiated for access, he also found ways to assure that each of the film's historical locations were showcased in an exciting yet appropriate manner.

Explains Waldman: "Every location in Washington and Philadelphia has its own prestige— and they each wanted to make sure they were going to be portrayed authentically and in the best possible way. So, for instance, we went through a lot of script revisions to film inside the Library of Congress because they wanted to make sure that audiences see the characters researching something that's actually there. So we have Ben and Riley looking at street grids and blueprints of the National Archives, which are housed there. We also added a line about the Library of Congress being the largest library in the world, housing 22 million books, just to give you a better sense of how amazing it is.”

Getting permission to film at the Lincoln Memorial, where Ben and Riley plan their heist much to Riley's dismay, was also an early challenge for NATIONAL TREASURE. "The Park Service didn't want us to obstruct the public access to it, of course, so we could only shoot at the Lincoln Memorial up to the second tier of its steps,” says Waldman.

Yet the atmosphere of caution only seemed to heighten the filmmaking. "There is a real feeling of hallowed ground at the Lincoln Memorial. This actually gave us even more respect and a real sense of awe for where we were shooting—which translated into the actors' performances, how we shot it, and how we behaved while there,” explains Turteltaub.

Due to ongoing renovations, the filmmakers were able to obtain only limited access to the National Archives—where the Declaration of Independence is housed, along with the Bill of Rights and Constitution—although even that was highly unprecedented. "Few people have been in there with a movie camera, let alone a crew and actors, and it turned out phenomenal,” says Bruckheimer.

In several cases, such as with the National Archives, when filming proved limited or impossible, the filmmakers relied on building extensive sets based on reality. Says Jon Turteltaub: "I really wanted to shoot in every national landmark that we could, but some places were just unable to accommodate a giant Hollywood production. We're not exactly dainty little flowers—we're more like the hippos from Fantasia and the last thing we wanted to do was endanger any of the places that we are trying to help preserve in the course of this film.”

Turteltaub continues: "We were still very lucky


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