Movie Quest 2005
The 10 films that are inspiring us to travel--and how you can re-create the best moments yourself
5. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
If only getting there were as simple as opening a door . . .
To avoid the London air raids of World War II, four young siblings are dispatched to the country estate of an eccentric old professor. One discovers that a dusty wardrobe is actually the entryway to Narnia, a magical land inhabited by minotaurs, centaurs, and fauns, as well as Jadis, an evil witch (Tilda Swinton), and Aslan, a wise lion (voice by Liam Neeson). Jadis rules over Narnia, which she has cursed with eternal winter, while Aslan waits for a chance to bring back sunny days to his former domain.
Based on the first of the famous series of children's novels by C.S. Lewis, The Lion (in theaters December 9) hopes to replicate the eye-popping success of Lord of the Rings, and it's following literally in the hobbits' footsteps. Both were directed by Kiwis--Peter Jackson did LOTR, Andrew Adamson of Shrek is behind The Lion--who filmed most scenes in their native New Zealand.
Canterbury Sightseeing started taking advance reservations for its new Through the Wardrobe Tour months ago, and has exclusive rights to bring visitors in four-wheel-drive vehicles to many of the film's high-country locations. That includes a privately owned area on the South Island called Flock Hill. "It's the size of 10 football fields, on top of a mountain with stunning panoramas in every direction," says producer Mark Johnson. "It's where we shot the final battle, which is a huge part of the movie." Canterbury's full-day tours depart out of Christchurch beginning in January (011-64/3338-0982, lionwitchwardrobetours.co.nz, tour with lunch, $195).
But you don't need to book a guide to view much of the amazing scenery in the movie. Tourism New Zealand lists many of The Lion's locations on its website, newzealand.com (click on Media, then search "Narnia"), and touring by car or RV is a popular way to explore the country; look into a package with airfare from Sunspots International (800/334-5623, sunspotsintl.com) or ATS Tours (800/423-2880, atstours.com). For mountain vistas as pretty as any in the movie, drive from Christchurch up Hwy. 73 toward Arthur's Pass National Park. There are turnoffs for the Cave Stream Scenic Reserve, which has a 1,188-foot-long cave and landscapes typical of Narnia, and the Flock Hill Lodge, which housed some of the film's crew (011-64/3318-8196, flockhill.co.nz, doubles from $84).
Further south, near Duntroon, is the Vanished World (vanishedworld.co.nz). Millions of years ago, the area was underwater. When the sea receded, it left behind limestone hulks on the sandy ground. One of the more peculiar sights is Elephant Rocks--huge, rounded gray monoliths on flat, dark earth. It's where filmmakers set up Aslan's Camp.
About 20 percent of the movie was filmed outside New Zealand. Los Angeles's Griffith Park was doused in fake snow for a handful of wintry scenes (323/913-4688, laparks.org), and the finger-like rocks shown in The Lion are found in the Czech Republic, a popular location of late. From the village of Adrspach, near the Polish border, you can take a three-mile walk amid rock formations shown in the movie, such as one called the Lovers, which juts 300 feet from the forest floor (011-420/491-586-012, skalyadrspach.cz).
4. Brokeback Mountain
A pair of men find themselves in the Canadian Rockies
"Brokeback called and said they wanted to match Wyoming," says Tina Alford of the Alberta Film Commission. "I said, 'Perfect, done.' Clint Eastwood, who shot Unforgiven here, said it best: You can get five different looks in Alberta--badlands, prairie, rolling hills, mountains, and grasslands."
Then again, Clint Eastwood never made a movie quite like this. Released December 9, director Ang Lee's moving film concerns lovers Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhall), who discover their feelings while tending sheep on "Brokeback Mountain." When they return to their small-town lives, the mountain becomes a metaphor for a better world, one where they can be themselves--and be together.