Movie Quest 2005

The 10 films that are inspiring us to travel--and how you can re-create the best moments yourself

It's certainly one of the most physically beautiful metaphors you'll ever see. The Brokeback Mountain scenes were filmed in Kananaskis Country, provincial parkland in the Rockies (search "Kananaskis Country" at travelalberta.com). Location manager Darryl Solly says his team chose the Upper Kananaskis Lakes campground and day-use areas such as Mud Lake and King Creek. As the movie proves, it's an area perfect for exploring via horse. To find a stable that leads rides, check out ranchcanadianrockies.com.

The crew stayed in the ski town of Canmore. "You fly into Calgary," says Solly, "and then it's only a 45-minute drive." Canmore has the services you'd expect--though it's still wild. "The Marriott is a good place to stay," Solly advises. "It's the most remote from the town but closest to the park." Summer rates for the Residence Inn by Marriott start at $129 (800/331-3131, marriott.com). Solly also recommends the Delta Lodge at Kananaskis. "You wake up and there are deer and elk and moose outside minding their own business. People always ask how the animals are kept so tame." The Delta Lodge's bed-and-breakfast packages start at $145 (403/591-7711, deltahotels.com). 

The town scenes were a challenge for Solly: "There's an economic disparity between Alberta now"--where oil has brought a fair amount of prosperity to small towns--"and Wyoming in the '60s and '70s." So the production cherry-picked from among eight different locations. One they featured quite a bit was Fort Macleod, 90 minutes south of Calgary. "It's a gorgeous place," says Tina Alford. "A stereotypical prairie town with two streets, sandstone buildings, and a great old-time hotel called the Queens Hotel." Rates at the Queens Hotel start at just $38 (403/553-4343).

3. Memoirs of a Geisha

Inside the secretive city of Kyoto, there's an even more secretive society  

The geisha in question is Sayuri (Ziyi Zhang). As a young girl, she's abruptly removed from her fishing village in Hokkaido and sold to a geisha house in Kyoto. The crux of the story is her training in, and mastering of, the arts of the geisha, under the tutelage of Mameha (Michelle Yeoh).

Shooting in Japan is expensive, so the producers of the long-awaited adaptation (due out December 9) of Arthur Golden's best-selling 1997 novel spent three months scouting locations around the world. Director Rob Marshall certainly had experience making one place sub for another; he shot Chicago in Toronto.

Much of the action in Memoirs of a Geisha takes place at studio soundstages and sets that the crew built outside Los Angeles. For garden scenes, they used the Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, near Pasadena. "We did a scene from the baron's cherry blossom viewing party there," says Patty Whitcher, unit production manager (626/405-2100, huntington.org, $15, $6 kids; closed Mondays). The end of the film was shot at the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park (415/752-4227, $3.50). The Hokkaido scenes were filmed south of San Francisco in Moss Beach, at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. It has a harbor seal rookery and extensive tide pools (650/728-3584, fitzgeraldreserve.org, free).

The Memoirs crew did go to Japan, packing as much as they could into two weeks. The emphasis was on exteriors, particuarly at temples, which have remained more or less unchanged for centuries. "We spent a magical day at Kiyomizu-dera, a temple on stilts," says Whitcher. All the shots of "epic sunrises" were done there. "What was really neat was seeing all of the elderly people starting their day with sunrise yoga." The temple is open daily from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. (011-81/75-551-1234, $2.60).

After Sayuri meets the Chairman (Ken Watanabe) and he gives her some coins as a gift, she offers them to the Buddha as thanks. Those scenes were shot at the Yoshimine-dera temple (011-81/75-331-0020). Whitcher learned that people go to specific temples depending on what they want to pray for or whom they'd like to honor. "This temple, at the very top of the Kyoto mountains, was probably the most calming place I've ever been," she says. "So I asked one of the monks what is special about the temple. He said it's where people come to heal their broken hearts."

As readers of Golden's novel learned, Kyoto's most famous geisha neighborhood is Gion. It's one of the prettiest parts of the city, and it still holds its secrets very close. Meeting a geisha is costly and difficult to arrange, but if you walk around Gion early in the evening you may spot them hurrying to their appointments. Gion Corner is a touristy production displaying seven types of traditional Japanese arts, including a dance performed by maiko, or apprentice geisha (011-81/75-561-1119, kyotoguide.com/gion_corner, $24.50). Meanwhile, the International Hotel Kyoto, across from Nijo Castle, hosts free maiko performances in its lounge every evening (011-81/75-222-1111).

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