Star Wars IV: A New Hope
Academy Awards: 50th (1978)
Awards Won: Best Visual Effects, Best Original Music Score, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing, Special Achievement Award (Ben Burtt)
Location: Tikel National Park, Guatemala
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Tourist Information: Tikel Park
Tikal National Park, deep in the rainforests of Guatemala, contains the ruins of a Mayan city used to represent the planet Yavin IV in the original Star Wars movie. The team spent five days shooting at Temple IV, capturing the historic beauty of ancient Mayan ruins.
Tikal Park boasts more than 200 square miles of lush jungle, and housed in its center are some of the most fascinating archaeological remains of the ancient Maya civilization. It is Guatemala’s most famous cultural and natural preserve and was declared a national park in 1955 and a World Heritage site by Unesco in 1979. It is still used today for ceremonies by Maya priests – some visitors may be lucky enough to see one on their visit.
It’s not easy going, though. Don’t expect to be able to see the entire park in one day. Even the fittest visitors would struggle to see all 10 miles of uncovered structures in one go.
The Hôtel Sidi Driss in Matmata, Tunisia was used as Luke Skywalker’s childhood home in the first Star Wars movie. Guests can dine in the Lars family dining room, now the hotel’s restaurant, and sleep in one of five “pits”. The set dressings were removed after filming in 1976, but returned in the year 2000 in order to film scenes for Attack of the Clones. Ever since, the decorations have remained. A night in the hotel won’t break the bank either, with previous guests snagging themselves a room for around £10 per night.
The village of Matmata itself is interesting enough to warrant a visit, boasting traditional Berber architecture and caverns dug into the sandstone.
The Lord of The Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring
Academy Awards: 75th (2002)
Awards Won: Best Visual Effects, Best Original Music Score, Best Cinematography, best Makeup
Location: Matamata, New Zealand
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Tourist Information: 100% Pure New Zealand – Lord of the Rings Tours
South of Auckland lies the rolling hills and green pastures of Matamata, the chosen ground to represent The Shire in the multi-award winning Lord of The Rings trilogy. Filmmakers transformed the area into a real-life Hobbiton, complete with more than 40 hobbit holes, the mill and The Green Dragon Inn, where you can actually stop for a drink. Aside from taking the movie tour, Matamata itself has plenty to see. East of town lives North Island’s tallest waterfall, Wairere Falls, a spectacular sight standing 153m above a diverse range of natural scenery on the Waikato Plains.
It’s not only Matamata that will appeal to Lord of The Rings Fans, as Wellington plays host to many set locations which are still standing, including Rivendell and Helms Deep. Fancy coming face to face with a cave troll? Then visit the Weta Cave, home of Weta Digital, the five-time Oscar winning production company behind the movie’s groundbreaking special effects.
Winner of 3 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, The Godfather features the picturesque, unspoilt beauty of Sicily. Since the actual town of Corleone was too developed to be used for the movie, the filmmakers opted instead for the sleepy Sicilian towns of Savoca and Forza d’Argo outside of Taormina.
For an authentic taste of Sicily, be sure to visit Savoca. The quiet hilltop village above the sea hasn’t yet become a tourist trap, even though it houses some of The Godfather’s infamous locations. Highlights include the Bar Vitelli and the wedding Church.
Director Alejandro Iñárritu was adamant that scenes be shot outdoors on location, and the majestic Canadian wilderness was his chosen beauty spot. The breathtaking beauty of the landscape was as enthralling as Leo’s performance, and integral to the outstanding cinematography of The Revenant.
Many of the stunning landscapes featured in the film can be visited in Kananaskis Country, a collection of parks west of Calgary. The cast and crew, particularly Leo, have remarked it was the toughest shoot they’ve ever faced, with temperatures plummeting to -30C during filming. Wrap up warm if you fancy a visit!
The infamous bear attack scenes were shot in Squamish Valley, near the ski resort of Whistler, a chalet-style pedestrian village at the base of the Blackcomb mountains. Besides skiing and snowboarding, the area offers snowshoeing, tobogganing and ski jumping at the Olympic Park, a venue for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
Skyfall is the first Bond movie since the Roger Moore days to have scenes filmed in Scotland, but plays an integral part since the climax of the film was set there.
Two hours north of Glasgow, Glencoe is a rugged mix of rocky landscapes and rolling green moorland. It’s no surprise that it’s bleak beauty helped make up some of the most memorable scenes in Skyfall. The Bond’s family home, Skyfall Lodge, rests in the majestic beauty of Glencoe, a nod to 007’s Scottish heritage.
While you can’t actually visit the house (since it was shot on a production stage) you can trek through the atmospheric landscape, absorbing the rugged beauty of Scotland. There’s plenty for the more hardcore adventurer, such as Aonach Eagach ridge, a precipitous and craggy knife-edge which is a challenging day out even for experienced mountaineers. From the crest of the ridge, the views north to the Mamores and Ben Nevis are stunning, and not surprisingly, the ridge is a ‘must do’ for most mountaineers. However, from the village of Glencoe you can indulge on a more gentle walk of discovery.
Article written by Kelly Barrett