Godzilla Was Here

by | Jan 12th, 2009 | 4:39PM | Filed under: Behind the Scenes, Other Bits

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.)

Something wicked this way comes

Stay back, beast!

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.

My workout for the year

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.

17 Responses to “Godzilla Was Here”

  1. fantabular
    Posted on January 13, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Great pics! I love the one w/ the t-rex attacking you =)

  2. Shane
    Posted on January 13, 2009 at 11:14 am

    Do you have a link to more of the Shire? Those are great pictures.

  3. Erika Olson
    Posted on January 13, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Shane -
    I only posted a few more of the Shire, as most of the pics had my husband or members of a family we met while there in them. I didn’t feel right posting those for all the world to see. : )
    But here are a few others:
    - e

  4. David Swingle
    Posted on January 13, 2009 at 11:42 am

    Hooray for the Hobbit Hole! I was so jealous of the Baggins’ home when I first saw the movie. I’ve always dreamed of having a home just like it. It’s a miracle that it’s still there! I might just have to make the trip to see it. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Jason H.
    Posted on January 13, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Very cool post… and great pictures!

  6. Tracie T.
    Posted on January 13, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    I loved the Kualoa Ranch movie tour! Unfortunately it was raining when I took it, but it was still really neat. Oahu is so gorgeous.

  7. Billy Birch
    Posted on January 13, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Broderick’s “Godzilla” is one of my favorite movies (which you snubbed in your post!). I still don’t see why people didn’t like the film.
    Great post! I enjoyed visiting these sites through your pics. God bless.

  8. Jake
    Posted on January 13, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    ^ I can think of a lot of reasons, haha.
    Great pictures, especially the ones of “The Shire”. I love it!:)

  9. Marie
    Posted on January 13, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    Wow! I wish I was so bold as wanting to travel to the other side of the globe to see famous movie sites. That seems like so much fun! What adventures and pictures to have! Ha Ha!
    I like the pics of the hobbits houses under the hill. Super cool!

  10. josh
    Posted on January 13, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    Oh man tell me you have a sister!!!! I want a nerd like you in my life, someone that would at least go see lord of the rings, not even imagine traveling to the site locations….!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! please tell me the your not an only child.>> I might even swing left of base if you have brother (lol just kidding)) good pics

  11. Mike
    Posted on January 13, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    That’s awesome, Jurassic Park has been and will be one of my favorite movies. That log pic is great, are there bloody Gallimimus there too?? :-)

  12. Michael Biglen
    Posted on January 14, 2009 at 7:10 am

    Being a movie nerd, I don’t think qualifies you for a nerd award. Unless you play World of Warcraft when you aren’t trying to convince your husband to visit far off places.

  13. Ber Ray
    Posted on January 14, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    I loved Godzilla too-probably because I have six boys and they couldn’t get enough. HOW FORTUNATE you can travel so much-thanks for sharing!

  14. Josh
    Posted on January 15, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    Kualoa Ranch is sure a neat place. I too enjoyed visiting there to see the Jurassic Park locations.
    Also, I just finished watching the 4 DVD Extended version of Lord of the Rings- Return of the King. It was awesome! Especially seeing the previously deleted scenes and commentaries. A must see for everyone. It really helped me appreciate how much time and effort went into the making of it. They deserved their clean sweep of Oscars!

  15. katy
    Posted on January 16, 2009 at 6:15 am

    i love the pics they are so pretty i think that u are really good at taking photos was big foot really there jeeze if my friend were here he would of died

  16. Kimberly
    Posted on January 16, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    I loved your pictures, how wonderful to get to travel to far off places.
    And this is a comment for Josh There are lots of nerd girls out there just open up and ask one out.

  17. Kathy
    Posted on January 19, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    This is something to keep in mind