Cinema can be magical in its ability to transport us halfway across the world to places we’ve never dreamed of seeing. Unfortunately, what with the proliferation of the Internet and the sheer number of films available to us, the world has seemingly shrunk, allowing us to explore it through film more than previous generations ever could. But the magic of cinema can only do so much. There are still places that only the most intrepid of film crews dare to go. If you’re looking for a unique film experience, go no further.
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
This 2003 epic historical war-drama, adapted from Patrick O’Brian’s novels, was a darling of the Academy Awards with 10 Oscar nominations. Yet the thing we remember most from it were the stunning scenes in the Galapagos. The islands, which served as inspiration for Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, lacks natural predators and, consequently, a wide range of wildlife can be found there. If you plan to visit the islands, and are very lucky, you might even be able to spot the legendary whale sharks that come visiting.
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Lead actress Quvenzhané Wallis made Oscar history as the youngest Best Actress nominee at age 9, but this unusual fantasy-drama film is best remembered for its stunning vistas into the deep American south – a place few dare to venture. The fictional island in the film, Isle de Charles Doucet, was inspired by the many isolated fishing communities which are struggling to hold onto their homes as the tiny islands rapidly erode. These places are so remote and devoid of anything worth seeing that even locals from neighbouring cities and towns have little idea about their existence.
While the unsung star of this adventure-thriller is the last surviving Tasmanian tiger that Willem Dafoe’s character has been contracted to hunt down, it’s the haunting visuals of Tasmania that steal the show. Despite some parts of the film seemingly based in Paris, the film was entirely shot in Tasmania and showcased one of the last true wildernesses to audiences around the world. Couple that with the fact that the cinematography of the film was irreproachable and Tasmania suddenly becomes a very appealing tourist destination. Just make sure you’re thoroughly prepared for the hostile conditions if you ever plan to visit.
If you look past the historical inaccuracies of this critically-panned film (Seriously, what is it with Kevin Costner and big budget flops? Remember Waterworld?) and focus solely on the film’s setting, you’ll get a chance to see a place you’ve seen in countless other films – the world-famous Easter Islands – in an entirely new light. Watch in horror as the lush and beautiful island slowly suffers the debilitating effects of deforestation, set against the backdrop of the indigenous tribes fighting for their own survival. The legends of Easter island, on which this film is loosely based, will help you look past the giant heads that the place is so famous for and see the island as more than just a tourist’s bucket list destination.
This German film (original title: Dschungelkind) is about the family of a German linguist who live with an indigenous tribe in Papua New Guinea. What most people don’t know is that the film is autobiographical in nature, having been based on the eponymous book from Sabine Kuegler, and tells the story of her family who were the first white people to live with this newly discovered tribe. So, when the film shows you parts of Papua New Guinea – pristine and untouched by the polluting hand of development – you can be sure that you’re looking at them through the eyes of someone who grew up there and knows the land intimately.
The Way Back
What’s the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of Siberia? If you’re anything like the rest of us, you probably see the place as desolate, hostile and inaccessible. And you wouldn’t be too far off the mark with that judgement. All the more fitting then, that it provides the stark backdrop to this survival drama film set against the setting of World War II. What’s even more incredible is that the film is based on The Long Walk, a memoir by a former Polish prisoner of war, who escaped from a Soviet Gulag and then walked 4,000 miles across hostile Siberia to freedom.
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