Movie locations anchor in our mindsjust as firmly as legendary quotes. And while some have absorbed DonVito’s “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse”into their everyday lexicon, others will muse over how absolutelyadorable young Michael Corleone looked against the undulatinglandscape of Sicily. So, here’s a host of destinations that not onlyprovide a tangible context for the script and play a major rolein creating mystique, but also showcase the world’s multiple facesand inspire for travel.
Dead Horse Point, USA – Thelma and Louise
The story of gullible Thelma and charismatic Louise may not bealtogether original, but it certainly fires the imagination withUtah’s brick-red colors. An enjoyable combination of road movie, policechase, friendship and cheeky feminism makes us fond of the twoprotagonists, and our hearts freeze as their car flies off the edgeof the cliff in the final scene.
The unexpectedly dramatic ending stirs emotions, and so does thelegend of Dead Horse Point. Towering 2000 feet above the ColoradoRiver, the neck of the formation was used by cowboys to corral andcapture wild horses. One time a herd of unwanted mustangs wasinadvertently left waterless behind a 50 feet fence, where they diedof thirst. Dead Horse Point is a marvel of form and color that,despite its grim history, never fails to awe visitors.
Ngong Hills, Kenya – Out of Africa
This ultimatelove story starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep made Kenya‘soutdoor splendor known to the world outside of Africa. As thetwo star-crossed lovers make it through the ups and downs of life andtheir relationship, the viewers become acquainted with the wildspirit of safari country outside Nairobi, where the Ngong Hills rollgently along the Great Rift Valley and dignified roars of lions echoin the dry air.
Forspirited travelers with a taste for thereal thing, following the footsteps of Karen Blixen might just be the extraordinary adventure they’re craving. There isa walking trail along the tops of the Ngong Hills. Somewhere on theeastern slopes, the solitary grave of Denys Finch Hatton overlooks the extensive game reserve.
Maya Bay, Thailand – The Beach
Those who didn’t drown in Leo’shypnotizing gaze or somehow weren’t gripped by the plot had as manyas 119 minutes to feed their eyes with paradisaical images ofThailand. Most of the filming was done in divine Maya Bay on Phi PhiLeh island. This turquoise realm of snorkeling and kayaking,sheltered by 100-meter high rocky outcrops, formed a heavenly backdropfor a story as grisly as the depths of hell. Ever since the movie wasreleased, Phi Phi Leh together with its sister island Phi Phi Donhave seen a rapid increase in tourist numbers, which makes the spotsa little less pristine but certainly worth a go as the beaches aresaid to be of world prominence.
The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, USA – The Shining
The artistry ofJack Nicholson would allow him to build suspense even wearing a bunnycostume in the Easter egg hunt, but the role of the gloomy Rockiesand eerie Stanley Hotel in creating the movie’s spine-tinglingatmosphere can’t be denied. Kubrick turned the luxurious historicbuilding overlooking the Estes Valley into the seat of madness, withendless corridors that promise no escape and spiritless interiorsthat trap in confinement despite their loftiness.
Today the hotelbids visitors welcome with glistening light, old-world charm,state-of-the-art amenities and breathtaking panoramic views … aswell as a ghost tour for the most daring. All this for anythingupwards of $150. What a treat!
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.
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 di
scusses 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.
Dharavi Slum, India – Slumdog Millionaire
Some movies grab our heartswith marvelous scenery, others impress with outstanding acting.Slumdog Millionaire does none of these. Its competitive advantage isthe agonizing realism of the way it features Asia‘slargest slum. On the one hand there’s a love thread and the”ragsto riches” motif, on the other, we get to witness misery thatgoes beyond imagination and it’s not easy to rub out this picture.Oppressive odor,heart-breaking conditions and religious violence are a depressingreality for about 1million people in Mumbai’s Dharavi.Now that it’s been popularized by the Oscar-winning production, the slum drawscountless 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.
Tongariro National Park, New Zealand – The Lord of the Rings
The decision by Peter Jackson, a born and bred NewZealander, to film The Lord of The Rings in his home country may havebeen due to deep patriotic feelings. But it quite fortunatelycoincided with the fact that there are few places on Earth to rivalthis little piece of Oceania in its mystique and awe-inspiringbeauty. So omnipresent is New Zealand‘s splendor that it even burststhrough the grandiose facade of computer-generated graphics, whichthe movie could largely do without and still manage to project theair of fantasy.
Guided tours take you to the most memorable locations,including the lush areas around Matamata that was used to portrayMiddle-earth and the stunning Tongariro National Park that providedlocations for Mordor, with its three grand volcanoes and dizzyingopen spaces.
Anything else that sticks in you mind?