I hope to see my friend and shake his hand.
I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams.
- Morgan Freeman as “Red,” The Shawshank Redemption
I recently watched one of my favorite movies, The Shawshank Redemption. Again. Each time, I’m captivated by Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins reuniting in Zihuatanejo, Mexico.
I wonder, though. Would the ending still have the same emotional punch if it weren’t set on a gorgeous beach? Probably not. That got me thinking about other films in which nature steals the show, even if it’s just for one unforgettable scene.
So below, I’ve pulled together my own list of nominees for the Conservancy “Oscar”; our version being the fish from the Amazon basin.
The Sound of Music: It has catchy songs, romance, war, matching outfits made from really bad curtains, and the incomparable voice of Julie Andrews. But really, what’s the first image that comes to mind when someone mentions this movie? Maria spinning in the Alps, right? Now, if she had been leaning out the window of a streetcar singing “the trams are alive with the sound of music”? Not so much.
The English Patient: It’s the age-old plotline. Boy meets girl. Boy feigns indifference to girl. Boy and girl’s truck gets buried in a desert sandstorm. But what a desert. The texture, the shifting dunes, the brilliant colors and peaks and valleys of sand, it’s as exotic a backdrop for a secret affair as they come.
The Lord of the Rings: There’s a lot of beauty in LOTR, but here’s what sticks with me: the lighting of the signal fires from Gondor over the rugged, snowy mountains to Rohan in The Return of the King. It’s majestic and powerful and my favorite sequence in the trilogy. Way cooler than an S.O.S. via instant messaging.
Local Hero: If you haven’t seen this below-the-radar gem about a Houston oil executive sent to a sleepy village on the Scottish coast to make a land deal, stop reading now and put it in your movie queue. I’ll wait. Good. You won’t be sorry. The scenery – Highland moors, craggy rocks, and a coveted stretch of sandy beach – is on par with Braveheart, another huge favorite of mine. But because I’m a pushover for a good indie (not to mention a Mark Knopfler soundtrack), I’m tipping the scales toward Hero.
Dances with Wolves: Maybe you have special place in your heart for Costner after Bull Durham, or perhaps you think his most convincing performance was playing the deceased in The Big Chill (and even then he was edited out). That said, for me this film is all about the grasslands and herds of bison. “Amber waves of grain” is sung during most seventh-inning stretches for a reason.
So there’s my list – five times that nature left me speechless at the theater. I know that many of you out there have your own favorites: we’d love to know what they are!
Kerry Crisley is associate director of strategic communications for marine issues at The Nature Conservancy
Photo by Flickr user Staceyd1972 (An Oscar fish.)
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