by Christine Bord
This season’s crop of new movies is surrounded by the usual Oscar buzz but we are more interested in creating some location buzz. Here is our Top 5 list of fall movies with the best locations:
1. Into The Wild
Hands down the movie with the most intriguing locations is Sean Penn’s Into The Wild. Based on the life of adventurer Chris McCandless, the movie was partially made in Carthage, SD ,a town where Chris returned frequently, bragging to locals about his plan to live in the wild. Just look at this list of locations. This movie was not made on a sound stage or in the state with the best tax breaks.
Sean Penn wanted to capture Chris’ journey in the most authentic way, by living it. Chris eventually died of starvation in the Alaskan outback. To capture the isolation of this place, Penn brought the entire crew to this location, making a visually unique and stunning film.
For most people the most interesting location will be the bus in Alaska where Chris died. The bus is located about 25 miles west of Healy, Alaska. There has been concern in the surrounding community that the film will draw tourists trying to find the bus who aren’t equipped to handle the wilderness. Much of the film’s authenticity is from the help of these locals .
Here is tourist information if you are interested in visiting Healy or think you can make it out to the bus on our own. If you want to live vicariously through someone else’s adventure, take a look at the 2007 Live Wild Tour in support of the release of the film. If you are interested in taking a guided tour of one of the trails Chris traveled, there is an Into the Wild Tour which leave daily from Denali, Alaska.
2. The Assassination of Jesse James
The next movie on our list is The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert F. Ford starring Brad Pitt. The movie was filmed in various locations throughout Alberta, Canada and promises to be visually stunning. One location, Fort Edmonton Park is offering wagon tours highlighting where key scenes were filmed throughout the park. Travel Alberta has excellent information about all of the locations used in the film. The site also has lodging, dining, and entertainment options in Alberta. For opinions on hotels and services in Alberta, check here.
3. The Kingdom
The Kingdom was filmed in Mesa, Arizona, Washington D.C., and Abu Dhubi, Arab Emirates. The film is about an elite team of FBI agents who make a secret trip to Saudi Arabia in an attempt to find a terrorist bomber. Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Garner star. Foxx has been very open about what it was like filming in Abu Dhubi stating that they were “treated like royalty”. This does not mean the rest of us should start booking flights. The U.S. Department of the State has several travel advisories posted that all tourists to the region should be aware of. Here is the official guide to Abu Dhubi if you are going. Lonely Planet and World 66 both offer great reviews and practical information for travel to U.A.E. If you are looking for something closer to home there is plenty to do near the film’s other main location, Mesa, Arizona. Located in the center of the state, Mesa is a short drive from Phoenix, Tucson, and the Grand Canyon. For lodging, dining and entertainment options, check out the Arizona Travel Guide.
4. The Darjeeling Limited
The Darjeeling Limited has gotten off on the wrong foot after a suicide attempt by the film’s star Owen Wilson but Wilson’s personal affairs can’t distract from the beauty of the movie’s Indian backdrop. The film is the story of three American brothers who take a trip across India in hopes of finding themselves and strengthening their relationship. Their trip is taken off course (due ironically to a suicide attempt) and a new journey begins. Here are a few behind-the-scenes videos from the shoot.
The All India Travel Guide offers tours ranging from 5 to 18 days which include stops at the Taj Mahal, Darjeeling, Eastern India, and Nepal. If you want to recreate the movie’s train ride, here a beginner’s guide to train travel in India.
For something different, how about a volunteer vacation in India? Global Volunteers is just one organization that can help you make arrangements to do something good with your vacation. And again, before leaving for India you should check the U.S. Department of the State’s advisories.
5. No Country for Old Men
No Country for Old Men was filmed in Western Texas where the movie is set. This thriller, starring Tommy Lee Jones, is the story of a man who finds a pick up truck, a stash of heroin, and $2 million dollars, all surround by a group of dead bodies. After taking the money, he sets of a chain of violent events that not even the law can contain. The setting is desolate, working as the perfect backdrop for what many are calling the Coen brother’s best film.
If you want to travel to West Texas, here is a map and some basic resources to get you started. If you are traveling with kids, here is a site with ideas for tykes. Wikipedia also offers basic information to get started touring this region. If you are a motorcycle enthusiast, here is a blog that will inspire you as well.