By Danielle Gorman
I was inspired this week by a Facebook post I remembered reading several weeks ago; it was by a popular travel blogger who was asking her readers for advice on T.V. shows that gave the setting free reign to act as a character in the series, just as much as the actors did (re: New York and Sex and the City). It made me wonder what movies I’d seen that had settings and locations that drew you in and were as important to the plot and characters as…well, the plot and characters.
Obviously, this list could get very extensive (for example, I could just copy and paste everything made by the BBC and Masterpiece Theater for the past 30 years and you’d never get to the end), but here are films that came to mind that I felt particularly personified their surroundings:
Midnight in Paris – Paris
Paris is shown to perfection in so many movies; it was hard to pick just one. What I think makes Midnight in Paris so special is the fact that you get to see modern Paris and 1920s Paris. Each time period influences the characters, even if they don’t live during that period. For example, Gil Pender is drawn to a record shop selling old classics that he heard live in the 1920s, proving that Paris is as timeless and bright in its former glory and in the present.
Sherlock Holmes – London
Like Paris, London has been the setting of more movies than I can count. But one film (or story, because each adaptation addresses this) really does the city justice. Sherlock Holmes is incredibly intelligent and clever, and uses his knowledge of London (we’re talking geographic knowledge—he can tell you where every alley and walkway leads) to help solve crimes. The history and intricacy of the city helps and hinders Sherlock in his quest for the next big mystery.
Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit – New Zealand (Middle Earth)
New Zealand is not a country people think about often, and if they’re contemplating travel to that part of the world it’s more often than not Australia, New Zealand’s big sister, that they’re considering. But New Zealand perfectly captures our idea of Middle Earth, and its stony crags, lush forests, and wild, green fields. There’s no other place on earth that so perfectly captures the imagination, convincing the viewer that they’re actually watching a fictional world brought to life.
Leap Year – Ireland
Ireland (coincidentally, my favorite country) tried it’s hardest to keep Anna from reaching and proposing to her boyfriend on Leap Day. Some may say its fate that brings her and Declan together, but I think it’s Ireland that did all the hard work. Anna falls in love with Declan in spite of, and because of, the lush, green landscape and its inhabitants—the friendly, well-meaning, sometimes ridiculous Irish.
Roman Holiday – Rome
A classic film that introduced the world to Audrey Hepburn, Roman Holiday is a great example of how a person can feel at home in a new place. Audrey’s character, Princess Ann, discovers different nooks and crannies of the city while exploring it alone, and at times with journalist Joe Bradley, and shows us that you can become friends with a place, learning little secrets about it as you find new and exciting landmarks. The city determines where Ann and Joe go, not the other way around.
Twilight – Forks, the Greater Seattle Area, Washington
If you’re a Twilight hater, then I’m sorry if the mere inclusion of this film offends you. But you have to admit, the dreary, gray setting of Twilight has a strong bearing on the events of the novel and film respectively. It is what allows the vampires to go out in daylight and also what keeps them away from humans when the sun inexplicably shines.
Did I miss any great location characters? Do you have a favorite city or country that steals the show in film? Let us know!