With the Sundance Film Festival coming to a close last month and the 2016 Oscars this coming weekend, the movies that are critically resonating most this year portray an undeniable realism. From Best Picture frontrunners Spotlight and The Revenant, to Sundance favorite The Birth of a Nation, it would indicate that true stories are where filmmakers are putting their focus.
Yet the 2015 (and early 2016) Cineplex had its share of colossal moments of grandeur and escapism for the masses. Jurassic World broke the opening weekend box office record in June, followed swiftly by Star Wars: The Force Awakens shattering that record again the week before Christmas. Despite Star Wars using every modern digital technique to bring the story to life, the filmmakers made a conscious (and heavily promoted) decision to ground the movie in realism by using 35 mm film instead of digital, using on-set animatronic creatures and costumes, and, just as imperatively, shooting on location to bring the many worlds of the galaxy far, far away back to audiences just like George Lucas first did in 1977.
One of the most exciting and exclusive ways for film fans to re-experience their favorite films are to visit those amazing locations themselves.
To Catch a Castle
The opportunity to actually own a piece of cinematic history comes rarely. Even rarer are those items and locations touched by the master of suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock. Yet, nestled prominently on the French Riviera, the grand La Croix des Gardes in which the classic To Catch a Thief starring Grace Kelly and Cary Grant was set is now for sale.
Do as the Romans Do
Released just two years prior to the aforementioned Hitchcock classic is the quintessential romantic comedy Roman Holiday. Starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn, two actors who define the phrase Movie Star, Roman Holiday has become one of the finest examples of Hollywood’s golden age. Set throughout the romantic and historic local of Rome, Italy, the film employs classing framing techniques by combining staged interior sets, rear projection to simulate Rome’s street, and on-location photography, all with a delightful and enjoyable tone.
Where the Magic is Made
If discussing classic Hollywood productions, the romanticism of European locales always come second to the capital of motion picture production – Los Angeles, California. The headquarters of every major (and most minor) production studios, the clear skies, modern culture and luxury living of LA have been the backdrops of hundreds of films. Of note is the 1997 film LA, Confidential. Winner of two Academy Awards and nominee for an additional seven, the Kevin Spacey and Kim Basinger-starring crime drama makes impeccable use of the City of Angles in service of throwback noir tropes with modern filmmaking style.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
For children of the 80s and 90s, there is no more influential filmmaker than the late John Hughes. And when discussing the works of the writer and director of classics such as The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and Uncle Buck, it should incontrovertibly include his portrayal of the city of Chicago, Illinois. Often set among its suburbs, John Hughes’ loving portrayal the Windy City is most notable in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, a travelogue of Chicago’s exciting cultural sites.
Also of note are his writing and producing credits on films not also directed by him. The Christmas classic Home Alone, written by Hughes and directed by Chris Columbus, is yet another Chicago suburb-set picture. For those also looking to live steps away from film history, this gorgeous Nantucket-style home is down the literal street from the McAllister residence. Happily, the previous owners of this home were not victims of the infamous Wet Bandits, so any concerns of water damage are entirely unfounded.
Hope is a Good Thing
The ways in which movies are now experienced has drastically changed over the last several decades. From the advent of home video in the late 70s to the ubiquity of cable and premium TV, all the way to the adoption of DVD in the early 2000s and the recent evolution of on-demand streaming networks, the theater is becomes less and less essential to the cultural impact of modern films.
A quintessential example of this is the popularity of The Shawshank Redemption.
Released in 1994 and critically acclaimed at that time (it was nominated for Best Picture alongside Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction), it was a financial failure, garnering only a smattering of viewers in theaters. Yet over the years, through its VHS release and consistent scheduling on cable TV stations, The Shawshank Redemption became an absolute classic. As evidenced by its top spot on the IMDB Top Movies list, millions of home viewers experienced the final reunion of a freed Andy Dufresne and Ellis Boyd ‘Red’ Redding in Zihuatanejo, Mexico.
Interestingly, that final location was not actually filmed on the Pacific coast of Mexico. Instead, the filmmakers ended their story on the white, sandy shores of St. Croix. Contrasting with the greys and browns of the prior two-plus hours we spent with the characters, it’s fair to forgive the filmmakers for the slight of hand given how blue and bright the waters of the Caribbean shine.
One Location to Rule Them All
Thousands upon thousands of films have made their indelible mark on cinema by embracing exciting locations around the world, yet none have been able to use a single destination to bring the audience to another world entirely as The Lord of the Rings. Shot throughout the country of New Zealand over the course of half a decade, Peter Jackson and his fellow filmmakers utilized locations ranging from the frozen peaks of Centerbury, to the rolling hills of Matakana, to the lush rivers and forests of Wellington, and the soundstages located in Queenstown. So absolutely bound is New Zealand to the cinematic legacy of The Lord of the Rings that many landmarks from the films have been made permanent to support the $15 billion in annual tourism, allowing movie buffs and sightseers to go there and back again many times over.
This post was provided by guest contributor, Christian Russo, Senior Interactive Marketing Manager for Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC.
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