Film is a powerful medium that can transcend a world’s perception and it details so elegant, and vividly. Sometimes we take for granted these environments, these landscapes that we become so attached to and cherish. The moving picture is an out of body experience, but when a film can achieve a strong connection between the characters and the landscape, it reaches our core emotions.
Below are a sampling of films that have expressed the landscape as a strong motif:
Full Metal Jacket
A war film’s depiction of the landscape is intrinsic to story-telling. In Full Metal Jacket that’s the case. Continuously the cast of characters are warn down by the jungle, the decrepit environment, and the landscape of Vietnam during the war.
What is interesting about the filming location of this film, is that it was never shot on location in Vietnam or Laos or Cambodia. The entire film was shot in England! The last half-hour to forty-five minutes, when the characters moved into the village of Hue, was filmed within one-square mile on a derelict site of Beckton Gasworks in London’s East End that was scheduled for demolition. Phoenix canariensis palms were shipped in to provide the added effect for Vietnam. Truly incredible.
No Country for Old Men
The Coen Brothers always seem to utilize the landscape in ways that personify it. No Country for Old Men is supreme in that aspect. The landscape became a protagonist and was a motif carried thoughout the film. One must also recognize that Cormac McCarthy, the author of the novel, writes many of his stories taking place in the southwest. His understanding and depiction of the landscape from minute detail to a grander scale is a celebration of his work on film. A good portion of the film was shot at Big Bend National Park in Texas.
There Will Be Blood
P.T. Anderson’s direction from Upton Sinclair’s novel Oil! made There Will Be Blood an epic classic. The percussive sound throughout the film combined with the sound of an oil derrick as the camera pans across the landscape is a marriage made for film.
Though the characters in the film are greedy and take from the land, it doesn’t deter from the fact that the landscape is as much apart of the film as any protagonist.
Never seen a film shot on location in so many places. Visually stunning, beautiful, with earth on display.
Absolute classic, and a film-noire that showcases the environment of Los Angeles and southern California during the late 1930s.
Lawrence of Arabia
Lawrence of Arabia is a crown jewel of film with sweeping panoramic views of the deserts of Jordan and a pretty good performance by Peter O’Toole.
Vasquez Rock (Site Specific)
A location that has become one of Hollywoods most used sites because of its diverse terrain and rock formations. You can find it in such films as Blazing Saddles, the Star Trek TV show and most recent film, Austin Powers, Power Rangers, and Bonanza. That is only a small portion.
Other notable films that feature the landscape: