Seven Geographically Inaccurate Travel and Adventure Movies
We've taken a look at historical spots from the movies, but what about when filmmakers get it completely wrong? In travel, adventure or escapade films, directors are often compelled to capture the most scenic or photogenic spots in a particular city – even if it comes at the cost of logic or even accuracy.
Whether they totally misrepresent, invent, or goof up the locations where scenes, some favorite movies can make people familiar with a particular destination laugh at the misinformation that's portrayed on screen.
Here are some examples of gaping errors from films, in terms of geography or location-specific details.
Of course, there are countless other errors out there. Share your favorite geography goofs in the comments below.
1. 'Bird on a Wire'
This 1990 chase film stars Goldie Hawn and Mel Gibson on the run in the Detroit-Wisconsin area, and features more than a few geographical and destination-specific mistakes. According to IMDB, "Rick and Marianne take a ferry boat clearly labeled 'DETROIT-RACINE FERRY.' Detroit is on the east side of Michigan. Racine, Wisconsin is across Lake Michigan on the west side of Michigan. Such a ferry would have to take a 2-3 day voyage around the entirety of Michigan."
Pay close attention to the official trailer below, and you'll spot the errors.
2. 'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom'
In the movie's opening, Indiana Jones narrowly escapes death (as usual) in an altercation with a Shanghai nightclub owner. To get the heck out of Dodge, he boards a plane and books it out of Shanghai. A map depicting his flight path has Indy flying southwest towards the city of Chongking. A depiction of the scenery below shows the plane traveling over the Great Wall of China. While that might make for good cinematography, it's incorrect geography. In reality, the Great Wall of China is in the northern part of the country, closer to Mongolia and hundreds of miles away from Jones' flight path.
3. 'What a Girl Wants'
Before Colin Firth won an Oscar for the "King's Speech", he played another, fictitious British royal in the teeny bopper comedy "What a Girl Wants." Firth played a fictitious royal who somehow resided in an enormous country estate in the center of London. (Catch a glimpse in the trailer below.) The positioning is beyond geographically incorrect, along with a few of the "swinging London" montages. For instance, according to IMDB, when heroine Daphine hops the number 8 bus in London it says "Trafalgar Square," though the real 8 bus stops nowhere near there.
4. 'Jurassic Park'
In the beginning of the film the villain character, Dennis Nedry, is seen completing a nefarious transaction involving dinosaur embryos at a cafe in what is purported to be San Jose, Costa Rica. However, the city of San Jose is enormous – not a rural village as it's depicted in the scene. Most importantly, San Jose is located in the interior of the country – but the filmmakers set the restaurant on a beach with palm trees.
5. 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull'
In the most recent installment in the Indiana Jones series, Indiana travels to South America to save the world from mind-controlling communists. Never mind the peculiar plot line, the film also features a slew of inconsistencies as our friends at IMDB point out. First, Indy claims to have learned the Quechua language from Pancho Villa's people, which is incredibly unlikely. Quechua was spoken by Peruvian Indians (and in some other South American locales, as well), but Pancho Villa and company were Mexican. Speaking of Mexico, Mexican music, dialect and iconography pop up despite the fact that Indiana is in Peru. And, is that Mexico's Chichen Itza pyramid we see?
Even worse, Peru's geography is also incorrectly depicted as Indy uncovers the crystal skull in a mountaintop cemetery overlooking the famous Nazca Lines. Because there are no mountains for some distance from the lines, such a view would be impossible. The lines also aren't close together like the trailer below might have us believe.
6. 'Leap Year'
Romantic comedies don't tend to be sticklers for details, but "Leap Year" is a movie about a woman in love and on the road in Ireland, and presents some glaring geographic errors. Per Irish blog Culch.ie, "The heroine's plane, traveling from Boston to Dublin is forced to land in Cardiff, Wales due to terrible weather. She ends up hiring a boat to go to Cork for some reason; now even if we are to assume the storm blocks off Dublin Port there are plenty of harbours closer to the city than Cork. Not that it matters, since bad weather forces the boat to put ashore in Dingle... which is north of Cork and yet further away from Cardiff. Further, as in about adding about a third again onto her trip." Oh, and that scene where Anna and Declan crash a countryside wedding is adorable and all – but doesn't Leap Day take place in late February? We're not so sure about the short sleeves, flowers and sunny weather (average February temperatures in Ireland are in the 30s and 40s.)
7. 'Krakatoa, East of Java'
This 1969 disaster flick, starring Maximilian Schell and Brian Keith, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. Unfortunately, it wasn't going to win any awards for geographical accuracy. The filmmakers couldn't even get past the title credits before things went wrong – a quick look at a map reveals that Krakatoa (aka Krakatau, the famous volcano) is actually west of Java.
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