Updated: Nov 12, 2019
Opening scenes can capture us not only with clever plot devices and character intros
but through enchanting locales as well. Here are just a few examples of how a unique
location can set the background for an unforgettable scene:
The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
The Lord of the Rings trilogy got almost as much attention for its exotic locales as it did
for its retelling of Tolkien’s legendary fantasy story. Filmed in the naturally gorgeous
wonderland of New Zealand, these movies took audiences through much of the
country’s incredible landscape and turned New Zealand into a tourism hotspot.
The opening of the movie is no different, and we are taken to Frodo Baggins’ hometown,
Hobbiton. These small little hobbit homes were actually hand-built, and rebuilt versions
of them still exist today for tourists. The set was built in the north of New Zealand in the
dairy farmlands of Matamata; a quiet and extremely peaceful part of the country that
was perfect for the setting of The Shire.
The Bond franchise was showing its age when the suave Pierce Brosnan came along
and saved the day, introducing himself in style in the opening scene of this film.
Although Bond was supposedly infiltrating a chemical weapons facility in Archangel,
USSR, the scene was filmed at the Contra Dam in Ticino, Switzerland. Situated on the
Verzasca River, this massive structure is the fourth tallest dam in Switzerland and has
become a popular jump site for bungee jumpers since the film’s famous stunt scene.
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Lawrence of Arabia may be best known for its exotic desert scenes which were filmed in
Jordan and elsewhere, but desolate deserts weren’t the only exotic locations in the film.
In the opening moments of this timeless 1962 classic, Lawrence can be seen riding his
beloved motorbike for the last time zipping through the small roads of backcountry
England before his fatal motorcycle accident.
Although in reality, Lawrence was killed nearby, the movie was filmed in a slightly
different location in the tiny village of Chobham, Surrey in England. This quaint village
still looks pretty much the same and features an array of shops and pubs as well the
beautiful backcountry roads Lawrence rode down in the movie.
The Beach (2000)
This early movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio also features one of the most iconic cities
and beaches in the world as Leonardo sets out, in this drama-thriller, on a quest to find
an idyllic beach somewhere in paradise. While the film is best known for the stunning
Maya Beach, it’s the opening scene filmed in Bangkok, Thailand, that truly draws us in.
Viewers get immersed in the hazy smoke and narrow streets of Thailand’s party capital
as Leonardo encounters strange and dangerous characters looking for his mysterious
beach. As the largest city in all of Thailand, this metropolitan area has no end of things
to do for tourists; and remains a tropical destination for casual travellers and adventure
Beautiful, exotic, or unique locations imbue opening scenes with power and emotion
and truly give the scene, or even the entire film, tremendous recall with audiences.