Living in a city like Chicago where so many great films have been and continue to be shot (The Blues Brothers, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and the upcoming Time Traveler’s Wife adaptation, to name a few), you might think that the last thing I’d want to do when away from home is scout out movie locations. But you’d be very, very wrong. In fact, in 2006 I went so far as to convince my husband to travel halfway around the world to New Zealand, simply to see where scenes from my favorite trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, took place. (I’m still expecting my Ultimate Nerd Award to arrive any day now in the mail.)
More recently, I was thrilled to come across famous movie spots in both Hawaii and the Galapagos Islands. At the end of October, I took a tour around Oahu that visited dozens of film locations. Some of the highlights were:
Godzilla’s footprints, from 1998′s Godzilla starring Matthew Broderick
The first two footprints (lower-left corner and right-of-center) used to be several feet deep, but have since been filled in for safety reasons. The one I’m standing in remains as it originally was in the film. Sure, the movie was awful, but seeing its lasting contribution to Kualoa Ranch in Oahu was pretty cool.
More pictures after the jump…
The site of a dino attack in Jurassic Park
The log tossed around by a big bad T-Rex in 1993 remains in the exact same spot. Clearly, I have no shame and therefore didn’t mind reenacting scenes with a dinosaur toy — though the end result was pretty realistic, don’t you agree? (Just humor me.)
We also saw locations from Pearl Harbor, Windtalkers, 50 First Dates, You, Me and Dupree, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Along Came Polly, but those pictures weren’t quite as interesting (sometimes a patch of grass where Adam Sandler stood just looks like… a patch of grass). However, if you’re a fan of the television show Lost, checking out my pictures from its Oahu locations is a must!
A month later I visited the Galapagos Islands, where I assumed no major Hollywood production could’ve ever taken place, as the "Land of Darwin" is fiercely protected. But money always talks, and that’s probably how Russell Crowe’s epic Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World managed to shoot a few scenes on the gorgeous archipelago. (I’m pretty sure it’s the only film outside of documentaries that has been allowed in the area). Granted, Peter Weir’s seafaring adventure (based on novels by Patrick O’Brian) has a subplot about how extraordinary the Galapagos Islands and its rare wildlife are, so that surely helped.
In the movie, when Captain Aubrey’s ship first reaches the Galapagos, the camera pans back for this shot.
Note that it takes about an hour of non-stop hiking up endless wooden steps to get to this vantage point. That’s why I look like I’m about to keel over in the photo below.
If you’re a big fan of the film, you may remember a scene when the crew is finally leaving the Galapagos — stockings and pans and whatnot are shown hanging from a tree. Below is the tree; the only action it sees nowadays consists of iguana fights and sea lions waddling around.
Surely I can’t do a post about movie locations and not include at least a few pictures from my most triumphant visit to Middle-Earth… uh, I mean New Zealand, right? So let’s wrap up in the ever-peaceful Shire.
As the government of New Zealand only let Peter Jackson film his trilogy across his home country on the condition that he would take down the sets afterward and return absolutely everything back to its original state, there were no castles or elven realms remaining by the time I got there. Mother Nature must love hobbits, however, because as the Shire and Bag End sets were being taken down, a huge storm kicked up and sloppy, muddy conditions persisted for months. By the time crews were able to complete the demolition, the first film had been released and was (obviously) a huge hit. The private owners of the farmland where the Shire set had been built negotiated to be able to keep the hobbit-holes as they were. Now they’re raking in the dough through tour groups. It was probably meant to be, as the Shire will likely be used again for the future Hobbit films — hooray!
Here’s how the Shire, as well as Bilbo and Frodo’s home, Bag End, look today (all of the decorations and paint have been stripped off — in the film the doors are green.)
Though nowhere near as exciting as Jurassic Park or The Lord of the Rings, I was still geeked when the Johnny-Depp-as-John-Dillinger crime drama Public Enemies shot a few scenes on my street this past summer. Rest assured that when that film is released later this year, I’ll be back with various gangster poses for your viewing pleasure.