Directors aren’t shy to use practical effects, especially when it comes to shooting on location. Shooting even the tiniest scene in a real place can add much more value to a film rather than just adding in a CGI temple. This is known as using practical effects, and when a director decides to use practical (real) locations in their film, it typically costs more, and takes more time. However, it’s well worth it in the end.
The decision to use practical effects will cost resources, as teams are sent out to study the location, film, and research it. Not to mention actually filming there. Filming on location gives the fans of the films a chance to visit the iconic places, and relive their favorite scenes in real life!
As we move further and further into the future, CGI will only get better at resembling real life. This means the use of practical effects will likely die out soon, but there are directors still attempting to revive the art form. Until then, you can still visit all your favorite locations from all your favorite ’90s movies!
15. Indiana Jones the Lost Crusade Isn’t So Mythical
In The Lost Crusade, Indiana Jones is in search for a holy grail, and to do that they travel to a canyon city to find it. The canyon itself isn’t so mythical after all. The Canyon of the Crescent Moon is actually the Jordanian city of Petra. The walls that make up the canyon lead down to carvings in the rock that reveal the location of the fictional Holy Grail. The architecture carved into the rock is breathtaking.
You may think similar to the movie, that there is a deep temple filled with traps behind the entrance. However, the actual entrance isn’t large at all, and can be a bit disappointing after seeing the beautiful carvings on the outside. What a buzz kill – oh and there is no holy grail either… we checked.
14. The Truman Show Was Actually Real
Okay, while the actual Truman Show doesn’t exist, some of the places presented in the film do. Take Seahaven for example. The set for most of the film was located in a place similarly named Seaside. Seaside was a small residence located in Florida, and almost completely resembles Seahaven from the film.
The entire town is privately owned, and was designed by Robert Davis, who built the town from scratch. After inheriting the huge plot of land, Robert decided he wanted to make a small town that would later inspire and be the location of one of the strangest Jim Carrey films to date… and that’s saying a lot!
13. The Lord of the Rings on Location
Many of the places read about or seen in the legendary Lord of the Rings series were inspired by places like Birmingham. J.R.R Tolkien took inspiration from the architectural design of Birmingham to inspire some of the most important structures seen in Lord of the Rings. For example, the place Tolkien grew up looked very similar to the Hobbit village, and was loosely inspired by an area in North England, near Birmingham.
Another notable inspiration was the Dark Tower, which was mostly inspired by the large structures in Birmingham. It’s even said the tower itself was directly inspired by Birmingham university, which also has a large tower. Mordor was inspired by an area of England where the grounds were darkened by black smoke from the mining era.
12. You Can Visit Sleeping Beauty’s Castle
We’re not just talking about at Disneyland, but the one that inspired Sleeping Beauty‘s castle at Disneyland. It’s no secret that Disney takes inspirations for when they’re making films, but not many know that Disney seeks out places for inspiration when they do just about anything, including building theme parks.
Neuschwanstein Castle is located in south west Bavaria, and is the main inspiration behind Sleeping Beauty’s castle. And what a beauty it is! The castle was built by King Ludwig of Bavaria, and because of its structure, he was known as the fairy tale king. Fitting, right? After Walt Disney visited the castle, he knew he had to build Sleeping Beauty’s castle to resemble that of King Ludwig’s.
11. The Mysterious Town of Twin Peaks
Twin Peaks is set in a fictional town in Oregon… or is it? The filming was mostly done in northern areas of Washington state. An area known as Snowualmie was used for most of the filming, and is where the great Northern Hotel is located, otherwise known as Salish Lodge. The hotel isn’t the only iconic thing taken from real life, but the diner that the series shows off is real as well.
The diner known as Double R Diner is actually called Twede’s Cafe, and is located in North Bend. Twin Peaks was a show that many people still look to as one of the greatest television shows ever made, and now you can even visit your favorite locations from the show! It’ll be an easy drive if you live in Washington. Sorry people who live in Oregon who just got their hopes up.
10. The Lands that Make up Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones is one of the most ambitious TV shows on television to date, and that doesn’t exclude its locations. Game of Thrones makes use to include many historical European cities in its filming. These locations are the real life equivalent to the Seven Kingdoms. Several structures along the coast of Croatia have served as locations for filming as well.
Many of the colder locations in the show include locations that exist in Northern Ireland. The Castle Ward is actually just outside of Belfast, and a national park located in Iceland is even used as the huge frozen wall. With Game of Thrones coming to a close soon, its ability to breathe new life into these locations is amazing and it will surely have fans wanting to visit these locations.
9. Paradise Falls from UP is Real
During the film Up, the two main characters are in search for a place called Paradise Falls. Many people’s train of thought will automatically go to Niagara Falls, but in reality the Paradise Falls inspiration comes from a place known as Angel Falls. Paradise Falls is directly modeled after Angel Falls, and shares similar characteristics.
Angel Falls is located in Venezuela, and is said to be the largest uninterrupted waterfall in the world. The creators were so passionate about recreating Angel Falls in their film that they sent several teams to study the falls. This included filming, taking notes, taking pictures, and simply taking in the beauty of the falls. The result was well worth it, as Paradise Falls made for a great destination to an even greater journey.
8. Graduate from Hogwarts
While many can say they’ve visited the magical world of Hogwarts at a theme park, many haven’t visited the places that existed before the stories of Harry Potter. During the filming of the first two movies, a castle located in Northumberland, known as the Alnwick castle served as a double for Hogwarts. The famous train platform is located in Kings Cross Station in London.
The Hogwarts express even exists too, but sadly it doesn’t travel to Hogwarts. However it does pass through places it does in the film, like Scotland! The Great Hall actually exists, and was filmed inside the Christ Church in Oxford. Harry Potter’s house even exists, except you won’t find the interior to resemble the films at all, and who wants to visit that anyway when you can literally visit Hogwarts.
7. Arkham Asylum Home to the Worst Inmates
Arkham Asylum has been a staple in the Batman series for years. It’s the place where all the bad guys Batman beats up go to serve their life sentences. Then they break out a few days later. Nobody said it was an effective prison. Dennis O’Neal took inspiration from H.P. Lovecraft, who didn’t build his own prison, but he also took inspiration from a mental hospital for a telling in one of his stories.
There was a mental asylum in Massachusetts that opened its doors in 1878, but its outdated methods of treating patients died out by the 1990s, and it soon closed its doors. The place has since been torn down, and reconstructed into an apartment building. So now hardcore Batman fans can live in their own Arkham Asylum – thought considering it used to house mental patients who have now passed, and likely haunting the building, we wound’t recommend it.
6. Crouching Tiger Fight Scene
One of the most memorable scenes from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was a fight scene that took place on what seemed to be the tops of trees. Seems unlikely, and produced with many computer effects, and green screens. However, you may be surprised to hear that the only fake thing about this scene was the edited out strings holding the actors up on the trees.
That’s right, the fight scene was real… well not real, but it really happened on top of trees! The team set up in the largest bamboo forest in China and had the actors run along the bamboo logs – with safety harnesses of course. Practical effects go a long way, and it shows how dedicated the director was on this movie. They could have easily of just set up a virtual set, and made a green screen, but where’s the adventure in that?
5. The Colorful World of Avatar in Real Life
The world of Avatar holds its beauty in the fact that we’ve never seen anything like it, and for the fact that we likely never will. However, we can get close. James Cameron took inspiration from two real places when designing Avatar‘s Pandora. Both of the locations are located in China – the Yellow Mountains located in Anhui and the Southern Sky column in Hunan.
These locations inspired the look of the floating islands of Pandora, and the mountains that are present in the film. Due to the success of the film, the local Chinese government wanted to rename the mountains after Pandora, but retracted their wishes, after the locals went into a riot. Most likely due to the fact the areas were there for many centuries and kept the same name for many, many years.
4. The Planet of Tatooine
In the ’70s, when the original Star Wars was being produced, and before George Lucas discovered CGI, the crew went in search for a place to begin filming the ambitious space thriller. For the planet of Tatooine, they scouted to areas of North Africa. This would be known as the home of Luke Skywalker, the film’s main protagonist. The flat lands of the area of filming served perfectly to set up establishing shots.
Many of the houses seen in the films are actual structures. Obi Wan’s house is a fisherman’s home, and when they were done filming, fish were stored in there. Luke’s original house was torn down, but was rebuilt when George Lucas decided to do the prequels. You can even stay at the house, as it now serves as a hotel for fans.
3. The Pokemon Regions Loosely Based off of Japan
The Pokemon video games take you through several different regions, all containing different Pokemon. What many don’t know is that these regions are loosely based off of regions in Japan. The television show and the video games are Japanese creations, so it fits that the creators would reference Japan in some way.
One of the most known Pokemon regions, the Kanto region, is an actual place in Japan. It’s located in southern Tokyo. The game’s creator wanted to add in these regions to try and capture Japan before the economic boom in the ’60s. That’s why most of the regions in the game are connected by forests. If there was only a way to make actual Pokemon a real thing, that would be news worthy!
2. Visit Radiator Springs Today
While we would all love to have talking cars, and come to think of it, it’s not too far off, sadly that’s not today’s topic. However, the film Cars showcases a town known as Radiator Springs. It’s a town with surprisingly a lot of character even though it’s a simple truck stop. The town of Radiator Springs is actually based off real locations off of Route 66 in the US.
While there is no town called Radiator Springs or a town that resembles it, the inspiration comes from several different locations on Route 66. In the film, one of the cars owns a body shop, and this closely resembles the U-Drop Gas station. The hotel, and other locations in Radiator Springs can be easily spotted along the highway. Most iconically, Cap Mountains is a real location that is called Tucumcari Mountains in real life.
1. The Culture Behind Spirited Away
It’s no secret that Miyazaki’s Spirited Away is brimming with culture and character. However, have you ever stopped to think where this culture came from? It’s well known that Miyazaki saw a Japanese festival, and was immediately inspired to start work on Spirited Away, but the inspiration goes deeper. Certain places in Spirited Away resemble structures from China.
Specifically the bathhouse, which plays a huge role in the film, is inspired by a small city in China, located near Taiwan. Many of the films backgrounds can reveal its inspirations. Everything from the architecture to the food that is being served during the film. While it’s no surprise many notice the Japanese influence, often times the Chinese influence goes unnoticed.
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