11 outdoor movies to inspire your post-lockdown walk

Itching to emerge from these strict lockdown conditions and get out into the open air? We hear you, so we thought we'd put together a blog list of sweeping landscape films to help inspire you.

1. Walkabout (1971)

Jenny Agutter became an overnight star following her role in Nic Roeg's atmospheric Outback drama. Agutter and the director's son Luc play two children left stranded in the Australian wilderness after their father commits suicide, before they meet up with an Aboriginal teenager (David Gulpilil) undertaking his rite-of-passage walkabout.

Roeg's typically impressionistic editing style conjures a surreal fever dream of isolation and adolescence. The gorgeous cinematography drinks in the arid, sun-baked landscapes before that famously bittersweet ending, set to John Barry's haunting score, leaves us stunned.


2. Days Of Heaven (1978)

Few filmmakers craft poetry with the camera quite like Terrence Malick. His famed drama Days Of Heaven is held up as one of the most gorgeous-looking movies ever made, shot almost exclusively at the 'golden hour' between sunset and nighttime.

Malick's tactile sense of environment practically invites us to brush our hands through the waving wheatfields, where a group of itinerant Chicago workers has retreated during the American Depression. Although set in the midwest of America, the movie was shot entirely in Canada, and the sense of outdoor expanse is truly breathtaking.


3. The Secret Garden (1993)

Roger Deakins recently won his second Oscar for cinematography for acclaimed World War I drama 1917. But did you know that he was also behind the camera on The Secret Garden? This fondly remembered family classic adapts Francis Hodgson Burnett's early-20th-century novel, and shows remarkable sensitivity in its depiction of outdoor environments.

When repressed young orphan Mary Lennox (Kate Maberly) discovers a locked, secret garden belonging to her emotionally troubled uncle, she cannot anticipate the impact it will have on her family. Deakins' lush cinematography transports us from the tentative green shoots of late winter to nature's majestically beautiful display in spring and summer.


4. The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert (1994)

How about a landscape movie laced with a healthy dose of biting, acerbic humour? This blockbuster Aussie hit explores the road trip undertaken by three drag queens, all with wildly different personalities, as they travel in eponymous motorhome Priscilla from Sydney to a competition in Alice Springs.

Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce (on outrageously flamboyant and funny form) fashion delightful chemistry in Stephan Elliot's film. And the environments through which they travel are just as important, dusty highways and faded towns that stand in stark, often amusing, contrast to the eye-popping costumes.


5. The Lord Of The Rings (2001-2003)

Peter Jackson redefined fantasy cinema with his groundbreaking adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkein's fantasy series. And he also put his home country of New Zealand on the map like never before – with its multitude of rivers, fields, mountains and plains, it's as if the country was formed to do justice to Tolkein's vision.

Although the movie's Oscar-winning CGI effects give life to the myriad, thrilling battle sequences, it's the moments involving palpably physical locations that resonate the most. From the pastoral beauty of Hobbiton to the snow-blasted pass of Caradhras and beyond, it quite literally is a fantastical world made flesh.


6. The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)

A real-life road trip undertaken by doctor (and eventual revolutionary) Che Guevara powers this inspiring story of friendship. As played by Gael Garcia Bernal, the young Che, or 'Fuser' as he's known, is a wide-eyed idealist who undertakes a sweeping journey across South America with his best friend Alberto Granado (Rodrigo de la Serna).

Director Walter Salles drinks in some truly magnificent scenery along the way, which undergoes repeated changes as Guevara's radical mindset begins to take shape in front of our eyes. Mist-capped mountains give way to bone-dry deserts and the famed Machu Picchu, on the journey that would help inform one of the most notorious political revolutionaries of the 20th century.


7. The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (2005)

Back to the masterful Roger Deakins, and one of his greatest cinematic achievements. He collaborates with director Andrew Dominik for the imposing and melancholy story of infamous American outlaw Jesse James, played with impassive reserve by Brad Pitt.

As we approach the moment of inevitable execution at the hands of the unsettling Robert Ford (an excellent Casey Affleck), the look of the film subtly shifts to match the change in emotional temperature. As with Days of Heaven, the film was shot in Canada, and the rolling plains and expansive skies appear to roll on forever. Deakins also captures raw intimacy, with a train robbery undertaken by lamplight one of the most beautiful sequences in any movie.


8. No Country For Old Men (2007)

Yes, it's Roger Deakins again, proving once more why he is possibly the best cinematographer working in films at the moment. No Country For Old Men is the ninth collaboration between Deakins and the Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan. And it's one of their best: an unyielding look at how evil festers and thrives amidst the sun-baked climes of the Texas/Mexico border.

The look of the outdoor sequences appears to be bathed in a perpetual ochre light, which, horribly, brings into greater clarity the violent events of the story. Based on Cormac McCarthy's novel, the film is the story of stolen money and the chain of horrific violence that ensues, with Javier Bardem deservedly winning an Oscar for his terrifying portrayal of hitman Anton Chigurh.


9. The Revenant (2016)

So convincing is The Revenant's depiction of the frigid wilderness that we almost found ourselves catching a chill while watching it. (In)famously, the production went down in history as one of the toughest on record, with director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki choosing to shoot almost exclusively with natural light.

This greatly reduced the amount of hours available for filming, which, when combined with the arrestingly remote locations, put the actors through the wringer. Leonardo DiCaprio chomped on raw bison liver, slept inside a dead horse and more besides as he and his fellow cast members were blasted by the elements in far-flung Canada and Argentina.


10. God's Own Country (2017)

Let's venture somewhere a bit closer to home, the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Dales, to be exact, for Francis Lee's sensitive and moving gay drama. The rugged nature of the landscape in northern England is well-matched to the initially hostile relationship between young farmer Johnny (Josh O'Connor) and Romanian immigrant worker Gheroghe (Alec Secareanau).

Their eventual romance is forged amid the frequent driving wind and rain to be found in the north of the country – this is no sentimental love story, but one with its feet planted firmly in the muddy soil. And, refreshingly, it's a film that dares to imagine a happy ending for both of its characters.


11. The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs (2018)

It's back to the Coen brothers for the final movie on our list: the typically quirky, and often shockingly violent, Western anthology movie The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. A host of odd tales, some funny, some tragic, play out in front of our eyes, including the one featuring the eponymous sharp-shooter (played with relish by Tim Blake Nelson).

However, the Coens' regular collaborator Roger Deakins is nowhere to be seen. Instead, this acclaimed black comedy is shot by Bruno Delbonnel, who feasts on the multitude of landscapes that the American West has to offer. Sun-filled canyons are replaced with undulating plains and sun-dappled meadows, with the landscapes proving as memorable as the story's miscreant characters.

What are your favourite landscape movies? Let us know @Cineworld.

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