Movie locations anchor in our minds just as firmly as legendary quotes. And while some have absorbed Don Vito's "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse" into their everyday lexicon, others will muse over how absolutely adorable young Michael Corleone looked against the undulating landscape of Sicily. So, here's a host of destinations that not only provide a tangible context for the script and play a major role in creating mystique, but also showcase the world's multiple faces and inspire for travel.
Dead Horse Point, USA - Thelma and Louise
Thelma and Louise - final scene
The story of gullible Thelma and charismatic Louise may not be altogether original, but it certainly fires the imagination with Utah's brick-red colors. An enjoyable combination of road movie, police chase, friendship and cheeky feminism makes us fond of the two protagonists, and our hearts freeze as their car flies off the edge of the cliff in the final scene.
The unexpectedly dramatic ending stirs emotions, and so does the legend of Dead Horse Point. Towering 2000 feet above the Colorado River, the neck of the formation was used by cowboys to corral and capture wild horses. One time a herd of unwanted mustangs was inadvertently left waterless behind a 50 feet fence, where they died of thirst. Dead Horse Point is a marvel of form and color that, despite its grim history, never fails to awe visitors.
Dead Horse Point. By mischiru
Ngong Hills, Kenya - Out of Africa
Out of Africa
This ultimate love story starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep made Kenya's outdoor splendor known to the world outside of Africa. As the two star-crossed lovers make it through the ups and downs of life and their relationship, the viewers become acquainted with the wild spirit of safari country outside Nairobi, where the Ngong Hills roll gently along the Great Rift Valley and dignified roars of lions echo in the dry air.
For spirited travelers with a taste for the real thing, following the footsteps of Karen Blixen might just be the extraordinary adventure they're craving. There is a walking trail along the tops of the Ngong Hills. Somewhere on the eastern slopes, the solitary grave of Denys Finch Hatton overlooks the extensive game reserve.
Ngong Hills. By /Sean
Maya Bay, Thailand - The Beach
Those who didn't drown in Leo's hypnotizing gaze or somehow weren't gripped by the plot had as many as 119 minutes to feed their eyes with paradisaical images of Thailand. Most of the filming was done in divine Maya Bay on Phi Phi Leh island. This turquoise realm of snorkeling and kayaking, sheltered by 100-meter high rocky outcrops, formed a heavenly backdrop for a story as grisly as the depths of hell. Ever since the movie was released, Phi Phi Leh together with its sister island Phi Phi Don have seen a rapid increase in tourist numbers, which makes the spots a little less pristine but certainly worth a go as the beaches are said to be of world prominence.
Maya Bay, Ko Phi Phi Leh. By René Ehrhardt
The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, USA - The Shining
The artistry of Jack Nicholson would allow him to build suspense even wearing a bunny costume in the Easter egg hunt, but the role of the gloomy Rockies and eerie Stanley Hotel in creating the movie's spine-tingling atmosphere can't be denied. Kubrick turned the luxurious historic building overlooking the Estes Valley into the seat of madness, with endless corridors that promise no escape and spiritless interiors that trap in confinement despite their loftiness.
Today the hotel bids visitors welcome with glistening light, old-world charm, state-of-the-art amenities and breathtaking panoramic views ... as well as a ghost tour for the most daring. All this for anything upwards of $150. What a treat!
The Stanley Hotel. By Todor Kamenov 石拓
Matmâta, Tunesia - Star Wars
Tatooine floated somewhere in ‘a galaxy far, far away’, but the locations for George Lucas's remarkable fantasy are quite easily accessible in Tunisia. A few kilometers southwest of Gabes spreads the mountain town of Matmata, home of the otherworldly troglodyte dwellings and a memorable set of Star Wars Episode IV: New Hope. If you've ever been wondering how on Earth Lucas managed to so authentically create the extraterrestrial ambiance in 1977, the harsh, barren, eroded landscape of Tunisian desert is the most comprehensive answer. A real treat for an avid fan is staying overnight at the Sidi Driss Hotel, where the interiors of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru's house were filmed and some of the set dressing from the movie can still be seen.
Troglodyte house in Matmata. By Bernard Gagnon
Sicily, Italy - The Godfather
Although the lion's share of Francis Ford Coppola's classic saga takes place in rapidly industrializing New York, it does withdraw to the pastoral, rustic Sicily - the ancestral home of the ill-famed Corleone family. The town of Corleone, however, was too developed at the time of shooting, so the choice fell, among other places, for Savoca. On entering the charming hillside village, you will immediately notice Bar Vitelli, where Michael discusses his proposed marriage to Apollonia with her father. This is where you will also find the church they wedded in. Winding roads, tranquil ambiance, Sicilian hospitality, stone-flagged buildings and vine-covered terraces – Savoca is a perfect place for a leisurely weekend with the story of unyielding family values and grim revenge under the skin.
Savoca. By Rocks in Silence
Dharavi Slum, India - Slumdog Millionaire
Some movies grab our hearts with marvelous scenery, others impress with outstanding acting. Slumdog Millionaire does none of these. Its competitive advantage is the agonizing realism of the way it features Asia's largest slum. On the one hand there's a love thread and the "rags to riches" motif, on the other, we get to witness misery that goes beyond imagination and it's not easy to rub out this picture. Oppressive odor, heart-breaking conditions and religious violence are a depressing reality for about 1 million people in Mumbai's Dharavi. Now that it's been popularized by the Oscar-winning production, the slum draws countless visitors willing to "get the real taste of distress". And while the revenues are said to go directly to the community, whether to recommend the visit or not is a hard nut to crack.
Dharavi Slum. By marcusfornell
Tongariro National Park, New Zealand - The Lord of the Rings
The decision by Peter Jackson, a born and bred New Zealander, to film The Lord of The Rings in his home country may have been due to deep patriotic feelings. But it quite fortunately coincided with the fact that there are few places on Earth to rival this little piece of Oceania in its mystique and awe-inspiring beauty. So omnipresent is New Zealand's splendor that it even bursts through the grandiose facade of computer-generated graphics, which the movie could largely do without and still manage to project the air of fantasy.
Guided tours take you to the most memorable locations, including the lush areas around Matamata that was used to portray Middle-earth and the stunning Tongariro National Park that provided locations for Mordor, with its three grand volcanoes and dizzying open spaces.
Tongariro National Park. By msdstefan
Anything else that sticks in you mind?