It's easy enough to forget that not everything we see in movies is CGI and a green screen. While many things are, most of the landscapes we see in the backgrounds of our favorite movies are legitimate places. It might seem hard to believe when we're witnessing a seemingly new world unfold before our very eyes, but it's only because of the way everything is captured on camera. Mountains look grander when a camera is panning out away from them, and greenery looks more lush and dense when it's seen through a saturated filter. Even deserts look far more desolate and lonely when color is zapped from the screen.
What does this say, then, about movies that used little to no video editing to achieve their ultimate result? Is it possible that in some movies, the landscapes used are of some earthly nature that most people don't even know exists? The answer is yes, and if you're interested at all in seeing the beauty and wonder for yourself as these filmmakers did, then check these locations out.
Redwood National Park, California
Not surprisingly, Redwood National Park has been the setting for many a movie in need of a dramatic, lush forest backdrop. What makes the redwood tree so starkly different from others is its height and unique color, which comes across beautifully on camera.
This is where Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi was filmed, and many people may already know it as the Forest Moon of Endor. Not far from this forest, California's Death Valley was also used in order to create an environment that could be believable as another planet, and the desert delivered.
Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
Martha's Vineyard is beautiful on its own and you certainly don't need a movie to prove it. However, this Massachusetts beach town was showcased even more intensely in Jaws, which was filmed in its waters.
The neat thing about Martha's Vineyard, specifically the beach surrounding the American Legion Memorial Bridge, is that everything still looks fairly similar to how it did in the 1975 movie. Therefore, visitors to the area will easily recognize the place where the movie's enormous, animatronic shark leaped out of the water and can sense the magic (or fear) for themselves.
Creekside Mushroom Farm, Pennsylvania
It sounds a bit strange to reference a mushroom farm as a movie location and it's even stranger to know it's in reference to Marvel's 2012 The Avengers. Fans will remember the scene in which Loki escapes through underground passageways and it's these tunnels that make up the Creekside Mushroom Farm.
With a total of 150 miles of limestone tunnels that have been abandoned, there was no shortage of routes the cast and crew could have taken. This farm was once known as the largest mushroom facility in the world, according to Vacations Made Easy, and while it has since stopped growing mushrooms and the tunnels themselves are off-limits, fans can attend the annual mushroom festival in the same area.
Keahua Arboretum, Hawaii
James Cameron's Avatar showcased some unbelievable CGI when it came to creating the movie's characters but, believe it or not, the scenery was very much natural.
While certain otherworldly effects and animals were added, the landscape itself was none other than the Keahua Arboretum in Hawaii. The arboretum is part of a nature preserve that's on the Kauai island, and the rainforest seen in the movie is just as lush, green, and full of life as it is in real life.
More than one movie was filmed in Astoria, Oregon, which is surprising considering how little is usually known about this town by the average person. The seaside community has been the setting for several major movies including The Goonies, Free Willy 1 and 2, Into the Wild, and even The Ring 1 and 2.
This seemingly ordinary, yet gorgeous, coastal town doesn't seem like the place where major motion pictures would be filmed and if you still don't believe it, head to the Oregon Film Museum to hear it first-hand.
Monument Valley, Utah
Monument Valley is a stunning region of the U.S. and while it's not surprising to know it's been used in films, it is a bit overwhelming when you realize it looks exactly the same in person.
The movie that immortalized this location is none other than Forrest Gump and is known as the place where the main character's cross-country trip ended. It's here that Forrest Gump's life took a turn and became a pivotal point in the plot.