The big screen can make even the most boring of places spring to life with clever lighting and a well-positioned camera, though there are some places on this earth that are so beautiful, they actually look even more impressive in real life than they do on the silver screen. The following are 10 such locations that have ‘wowed’ audiences in some of the biggest films of all time, but still manage to look even more stunning in person. Whether it’s the mountains of Mordor in New Zealand or the sand dunes of Mars in Jordan, the following slides prove that sometimes the only way to truly appreciate a place is by visiting it.
Lord of the Rings – New Zealand
The Lord of the Rings is one of the biggest film series of all time and follow the adventures of Frodo, Samwise Gamgee, Gandalf and many more. The film may have been set in Middle Earth, but the lush green fields and spectacular mountain ranges were actually all filmed in New Zealand. The green hills of Matamata became Hobbiton and the Tongariro National Park was the setting for Mordor and the infamous ‘Mount Doom’. The huge success of the film has made the areas huge tourist attractions.
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Kefalonia, Greece
The romantic love story between Captain Corelli and Pelagia is set during the German and Italian occupation of the Greek island of Kefalonia during the Second World War. The film is shot in many different parts of the beautiful island but the most stunning location of all is Myrtos Beach. The secluded cove may have looked impressive in the film but in real life it is even more breathtaking. Due to strong currents and the steep drop into the ocean, the waters off Myrtos beach pick up a lot of sediment and this often creates truly stunning water colouration, leading to many describing it as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – China
Upon its release, Ang Lee’s 2000 masterpiece “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” became the highest-grossing foreign-language film in American history and it’s easy to see why. The martial arts film was full of stunning locations and incredible fights. One of the most memorable scenes was the fight sequence in the middle of Anji bamboo forest; the real-life forest may not have martial art warriors fighting in the treetops, but the surroundings are arguably even more spectacular than in the film.
The Beach – Thailand
The 2000 hit Danny Boyle film “The Beach” was all about a group of backpackers finding a deserted island paradise. Phi Phi Leh Island in Thailand was chosen as the filming location due to its golden sands, lush vegetation and crystal clear turquoise waters. The island may have looked impressive in the film but the real location is even more beautiful. The Hat Maya Beach is now a popular tourist spot but that can’t take anything away from its breathtaking beauty.
Stagecoach – Monument Valley, USA
The 1939 John Ford film “Stagecoach” will have a place in film history for two reasons: It was the breakthrough role for a certain John Wayne and it was also filmed in the now iconic Monument Valley. Ford also used the location for a number of his other movies and it has become a symbol of ‘The American West’. The valley is located on the Arizona-Utah border; the deep red colour of the earth and the incredible rock formations make it even more impressive in the flesh than it looks on screen.
In Bruges – Bruges, Belgium
If you want to experience a city with a real atmosphere and sense of history, few places can match the medieval feel of Bruges in Belgium. The architecture, canals and cobbled streets make it one of the most spectacular cities in the world to visit. It was also the setting for Martin McDonagh’s 2008 film “In Bruges”, starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. There is a running joke throughout the film that Farrell’s character, Ray, constantly wants to get out of the city but, as Ralph Fiennes states, a visit to Bruges really does feel like a magical experience.
Casino Royale – Loket, Czech Republic
Casino Royale took James Bond’s character all the way back to the beginning of his career in what is arguably one of the best Bond films of all time. The film had many memorable locations, although the hillside town of Loket in the Czech Republic (which was actually meant to be Montenegro in the film) is the real show-stopper. Bond and Vesper’s meeting with Mathis may have looked impressive in the film, but the real beauty of Loket can only be truly appreciated in person.
Mamma Mia – Skopelos, Greece
Although the hit 2008 film Mamma Mia was filmed in a number of different locations, the majority of the outdoor scenes were shot on the picturesque Greek island of Skopelos. While the sandy beaches and turquoise sea looked stunning in the film, the true beauty of the island is even more impressive in person, especially the wedding chapel, which is located on the top of a rocky outcrop.
The English Patient – Tuscany, Italy
The 1996 epic film The English Patient was shot in both Tunisia and the amazing countryside of Tuscany, Italy. The film has many beautiful locations, but the most impressive of all is the 13th century Bacci Chapel in the Basilica of San Francesco, Tuscany. This stunning medieval church with its painted walls may look beautiful in the film but in real life it is even more breathtaking.
The Martian – Wadi Rum, Jordan
Ridley Scott’s 2015 hit film “The Martian” was set on the red planet of Mars, but rather than use computer-generated backdrops, Scott decided to film the outdoor scenes in the red desert of Wadi Rum in Jordan. The huge area is known as “The Valley of the Moon”; a visit to this spectacular valley really does feel like you’ve been transported to another planet.