10 movies with amazing landscapes
PUBLISHED: 18:30 08 May 2020 | UPDATED: 10:25 10 May 2020
The majesty of the natural world is something many of us haven’t seen for over a month now. If you are feeling trapped by your four walls here are some epic movies which could broaden your horizon
For the past six weeks, for many people, the limit of their horizons has only extended to their back garden. For many, living in town centres and apartments, their view doesn’t extend beyond their front door – that sense of claustrophobia can feel very real.
A recent survey conducted about our television watching habits has revealed, not surprisingly, that the most popular shows are those which feature the great outdoors – wildlife documentaries and series like The Yorkshire Vet and Country File.
With this is mind, here are some wonderful movie choices which should give you a feeling of the great outdoors – give you a tour of the world, opening up some natural wonders alongside some of those awe-inspiring wide-open spaces.
Dances With Wolves; dir: Kevin Costner; starring: Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Graham Greene (1990)
The multi-Oscar winning epic western about Lieutenant John Dunbar’s lonely journey out onto the unexplored prairies of the American mid-west and his assimilation into a tribe of Dakota Sioux. Costner’s storytelling not only allows us to sample the rich heritage of native American life but we also get to marvel at the wide-open spaces and feel the exhilaration of the Buffalo hunt. It also reminds us that the mid-west was not just flat grasslands there was also woodland on the slopes of the Black Hills and rivers enriching the landscape. A glorious film which allows you to get lost in another culture in another time.
Lawrence of Arabia; dir: David Lean; starring: Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Omar Sharif (1962)
British director David Lean specialized at setting very intimate, personal stories against a vast, picturesque landscape. He did it on many great movies, including: Bridge On River Kwai and Doctor Zhivago, but Lawrence is his masterpiece. The desert in North Africa has never been more beautifully photographed nor been more important to a story. It is an important character in the telling of the story. In the hands of Lean the desert has the allure of a dangerous lover, beautiful to look at but deadly if you take it for granted.
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon; dir: John Ford; starring: John Wayne, Joanne Dru, John Agar, Victor McLaglen (1949)
The second part of John Ford’s cavalry trilogy, and winner of the Best Colour Cinematography Oscar, Monument Valley has never looked so beautiful. A young John Wayne proves he can act by playing a cavalry officer on the eve of retirement, trying to save his former regiment from themselves, by brokering a peace treaty with the local native Americans. One of the best visuals in the film comes when John Ford took advantage of a piece of good luck. As he was shooting a standard patrol shot against the impressive rock stacks which are dotted around Monument Valley, a threatening thunderstorm loomed overhead, as lightning flashed across the inky black sky, he got the troop to dismount and lead their horses through the deluge. Instantly a piece of narrative was transformed into a visually powerful moment.
Jean de Florette/Manon des Sources; dir: Claude Berri; starring: Yves Montand, Gérard Depardieu, Daniel Auteuil, Emmanuelle Beart (1986)
The dry mountainous region of Provence has never looked so captivating in this pair of linked films. The farmland which is dry and arid in the first instalment becomes a lush pasture when the spring which serves the property is unblocked. A tale of local politics and jealousies, a young shepherdess, played by the then 19 year old Emmanuelle Beart, swears revenge on the small-minded villagers who drove her father to an early grave.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; dir: Ang Lee; starring: Chow Yun Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Ziyi Zhang (2000)
Oscar-nominated director Ang Lee anchors this fairytale story in the real-life landscapes of China, moving the action from the desert to lush bamboo forests. It’s a rich colourful story which has the visuals to match. Even the urban landscapes are beautifully photographed and provide a stunning backdrop for the jaw-dropping martial arts fight sequences. For all the opulence on show, Ang Lee never fails to put people at the heart of the story and as a result, as an audience, you cannot help but be moved by the bittersweet ending.
Far From The Madding Crowd; dir: John Schlesinger; starring: Julie Christie, Peter Finch, Alan Bates, Terence Stamp (1967)
When it comes to talking about stunning landscapes, Britain often, unfairly, gets overlooked. Far From The Madding Crowd tried very hard to deliver a view of the West Country that would be hard to ignore. Julie Christie was forced to hold her own against John Schlesinger’s dramatic visualization of Thomas Hardy’s Wessex – not to mention the competitive brooding supplied by Messers Finch, Bates and Stamp. A glorious story, brilliantly told.
Before Sunrise; dir: Richard Linklater; starring: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Andrea Eckert (1995)
One of the great films of the 1990s and a beautiful walking tour of nocturnal Vienna. Two students Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy walk the streets of Vienna one night, keeping each other company and awake before each has to catch a flight home which will end their relationship before it has begun. Partly improvised, the pair drift from café to bar to riverside embankment through the historic back streets of this city as they wittily discuss life, the universe and everything.
The English Patient; dir: Anthony Minghella; starring: Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Colin Firth (1996)
In a short career before his untimely death, Anthony Minghella, quickly established himself as a modern David Lean, telling powerful, personal stories against dramatic backdrops. The English Patient, a World War II story, plays out in two different locations and in two different times. The framing story has Fiennes as The English Patient, a burns victim, in recently liberated Italy, being nursed by Juliette Binoche. He tells her of his illicit, doomed love affair with the beautiful Kristin Scott-Thomas in Egypt before the war – a romance set against a beautiful, historic, cruel landscape that matches the themes of tragedy, loss and betrayal. A film that makes love to your eyes while it rips your heart out.
The Straight Story; dir: David Lynch; dir: Richard Farnsworth, Sissy Spacek, Jane Galloway Heitz (1999)
A quirky but beautiful story of an elderly man making his way by lawnmower across the modern-day American mid-west to find out if his estranged brother is still alive. If he is he vows to mend the broken bridges with his sibling. However, this is just the motivation for the story, the real substance of the film is in the journey itself, across America’s changing landscape, and the people he meets along the way. It is a film passing scenery, gentle but revealing conversations and beautiful sunsets. It’s a film which beguiles, and you have to surrender to. You have to trust director David Lynch and, of course, he’ll never let you down.
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