Movies in Nature: Captain Fantastic

Can “Philosopher Kings” make it in the “real world”?

What if you could live in an idyllic setting far from other people and raise kids without technology or the typical pressures and influences of the “civilized world”? What knowledge and skills should they develop to survive and thrive? How would you teach them? In this 2016 movie written and directed by Matt Ross, Viggo Mortenson plays a devoted father raising six children “off the grid”. A tragedy forces the family to journey into the outside world and tests the values and bonds the family has worked to create. The movie weaves drama and humor into a story of a parent facing judgement for their choices, but facing the inevitable: children growing up and having to make their own choices.

Warning: while the movie features the beauty and wonders of nature, the opening scene is filled with tension and brief violence that is not present for the rest of the movie.

Movies in Nature: The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings (2001) movies are known for their amazing use of nature to enhance the storyline. These movies follow a young hobbit named Frodo Baggins as he journeys to destroy a magic ring he inherited from his older cousin Bilbo Baggins. It is a race against time to destroy the ring as dark forces who know the true powers of the ring are on a mission to reclaim it. Hobbits live in a fictional land called the Shire and are known to have a green thumb which is represented by the lush greenery that fills every inch of the Shire. We see their positive relationship with nature in the way they care for their land and it is contrasted by scenes of the dark and barren lands where the dark forces dwell. It is interesting to see how the “villains” of the story are characterized to have a poor relationship with nature while the “good guys” live in a flourishing, green garden. All three of the movies were filmed in New Zealand and feature spectacular landscapes. If you’re someone with an interest in films that feature nature, check out these films!

Movies in Nature: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

How does a movie about a thrilling daydreaming exploration sound?

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013) is a movie about Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) and him changing his life, which occurred through adventures in nature. Walter Mitty is an employee at the Life magazine, and he spends his days developing photos. His days consist of repetitive tasks, so Walter inhabits a world of thrilling daydreams in which he is the hero. After many troubles with the magazine, he gets a chance to have a real adventure when Life’s new owners send him on a journey to obtain the perfect photo for the final print issue. Throughout the movie, Walter explores some gorgeous, rugged landscapes in search of Sean Penn’s photographer character. It is a tour of different parts of nature, which has Iceland stand in for both Greenland and the Himalayas. It has scenes from the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, the Skogafoss waterfall, and the mountainous Vatnajökull National Park. The nature around him plays a critical role in his journey and shapes the person he becomes. If you are interested in various nature scenes, adventures, and a thrilling daydreaming exploration, then this is the movie for you!

Movies in Nature: Interstellar

Interstellar is a movie that features Matthew McConaughey, Cooper, with his two children in a dystopian future where humanity is struggling to survive. Cooper and a group of astronauts travel through a wormhole near Saturn to look for a new home and planet for humankind. Nature is a force to be reckoned with in this movie. Throughout the movie, many dust storms occurred that threatened everyone’s safety, showcasing the destructive part of nature. Later in the film, Dr. Amelia Brand (Anne Hathaway), Cooper, and Dr. Doyle (Wesley Bentley) investigate an ocean world where everything is water. Little do they know, on this planet, there are gigantic 4,000-foot-tall water waves that occur frequently. Although this is unrealistic, it reminds the viewer of how catastrophic natural disasters can be. Overall, this movie made me more curious about space while pointing out how important it is to take care of the planet that we are on now to avoid similar natural disasters that occurred in the movie. Check out this film!