Wanderlust can be sparked by so many things — books, music, casual conversations with mustachioed strangers, random 4am Instagram browsing, and, for many of us, movies. Tonight, the Oscars will surely offer another source of travel inspiration. Many of tonight’s nominated films could double as tourism ads — Visit the Martian frontier! Drive the Fury Road!
Here are six Oscar nominated movies that used their settings to help tell compelling stories:
Berlin, Germany – Bridge of Spies
Director Steven Spielberg’s Cold War-era Bridge of Spies takes place largely in Berlin, with a particular focus the Glienicke Bridge, for which the movie is named. Today, Berlin gets more tourists than any other city in Europe, with the number of visitors doubling over the past 10 years. It’s official tourism site boasts that the city has more museums than it does rainy days.
With an abundance of shops, theaters, bars, and restaurants, today’s Berlin is a much more welcoming atmosphere than the one that was portrayed on screen.
Wadi Rum, Jordan – The Martian
While we’re still quite a few years away from the kind of interplanetary tourism that can take you all the way to Mars and back. In the meantime, you can replicate Matt Damon’s on-screen experience in The Martian by visiting the desert of Wadi Rum in Jordan’s southern region. Known as the Valley of the Moon, Wadi Rum has been inhabited by humans since the dawn of time. Its current inhabitants, the Zalabia Bedouin, have built up a booming eco-friendly adventure tourism industry.
The desert is frequently used by movies for its unique, natural beauty — subbing in for the Red Planet and other alien worlds on more than one occasion. Damon himself said that while filming there he was “in awe of that place, it was really, really special. One of the most spectacular and beautiful places I have ever seen, and like nothing I’ve ever seen anywhere else on Earth.”
Namib Desert, Namibia – Mad Max: Fury Road
While the first three Mad Max movies were filmed in creator George Miller’s native Australia, an abundance of rainfall last year led to an unexpected boom in plant-life that didn’t much look like a barren, apocalyptic wasteland. For the series’ fourth installment, Fury Road, they were forced to look elsewhere, eventually choosing the Namib Desert off of the coast in Southern Africa. Given that the area gets less than a half-inch of rain annually, it had more than enough desolation to suit the production’s needs.
While there are a few human settlements scattered about, the Namib-Naukluft National Park takes up much of the region, which also houses the largest game reserve in Africa, and one of the largest in the world. The most popular attraction by far is the southern, dune-filled area of Sossusvlei, which offers several tourist-friendly accommodations, from to five-star hotels.
Ushuaia, Argentina – The Revenant
To replicate the frozen, desperate hell-scape that director Alejandro G. Iñárritu was striving for, much of The Revenant was filmed in and around Kananaskis Country, a Canadian park system just west of Alberta. During production, however, the region’s lack of snow forced the production to relocate to the southernmost tip of Argentina. Basing themselves in Ushuaia, which is commonly known as ‘The End of the World,’ the remote location boasts a diverse landscape that includes oceans, forests, and mountains, all bunched together.
Of course, there’s no shortage of activities to participate in, from museums, resorts, and tours of the area that can be done by both water and air. Although it’s probably best known for The Longest Night In The World Festival, which was officially founded in 1886. The three day event is held in June over the southern hemisphere’s winter solstice, and the shortest day of their year, and during that time it’s famously declared that “sleeping is forbidden.”
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Nyhavn District, Copenhagen – The Danish Girl
Like fellow Oscar-nominee Bridge of Spies, much of The Danish Girl was filmed in and around Berlin, although some key scenes were shot in Nyhavn, an entertainment district in Copenhagen. While the film’s crew worked to transport the waterfront area back in time to the 1930s when the story takes place, the former commercial port itself has become a haven of tourist-friendly bars and restaurants. With houses that date back to the 17th century, literary fans can also check out three former residences of novelist Hans Christian Andersen.
The Kingdom of Morocco – SPECTRE
While the latest James Bond movie, SPECTRE, takes the viewer to a number of locations across the globe in typical fashion, it was their production stop in Morocco that would end up setting the world record for largest ever on-screen explosion.
Hopefully your trip to the country will be less explosion-filled, but every bit as exciting. After all, tourism is a huge driving force of their economy, and it offers a wealth of options, including a big focus on life in its ancient cities, as well as a bustling epicenter in the port town of Casablanca.
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