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How Can You Enjoy the Outdoors While Staying Home? Watch These Movies

How Can You Enjoy the Outdoors While Staying Home? Watch These Movies


The beautiful thing about movies is that they can take us to far-flung locations both real and imaginary. Once upon a time, our most desired destinations might have been imaginary — we wanted to go to fantasy kingdoms or the edges of the galaxy. If, like us, you're spending a lot of time indoors right now, maybe you just want to go outside.

Need to stave off cabin fever? Wondering when you can go outside again? We've got a way to stay at home and still enjoy the outdoors. Here are five movies that will give you the serenity and thrill of outdoor adventure without leaving your home. We could have simply suggested watching THE LORD OF THE RINGS again, as it has spectacular views of New Zealand — and that's a great option! But we've looked to movies that have a more realistic vibe, and which might be new discoveries for many audiences.

The Black Stallion

Great Outdoor Movies: The Black Stallion

[Image Credit: United Artists]

The beauty of THE BLACK STALLION is that this adaptation of the 1941 book for young readers is told almost purely with images. The sparse dialogue is an accent to the story rather than essential to it. And while this is a visual movie, it does not talk down to children. The story begins with a boy meeting a magnificent horse on a boat, and eventually opens up into an island paradise — and that's when this gorgeous adventure transports us to a wonderful outdoor existence.

Jeremiah Johnson

Great Outdoor Movies: Jeremiah Johnson

[Image Credit: Warner Bros.]

Spend any amount of time online and you'll see an image of a man with a heavy beard nodding sagely as he sits in a forest. That's Robert Redford in JEREMIAH JOHNSON, a movie about a veteran of the Mexican-American War who attempts to live the life of a hermetic mountain man. Jeremiah almost makes it work but discovers that, no matter how far out into the wilderness you go, there will probably still be other people to deal with. The bonus for us is that director Sydney Pollack (TOOTSIE, OUT OF AFRICA) shot the movie amidst stunningly gorgeous landscapes all across the state of Utah.

Encounters at the End of the World

Great Outdoor Movies: Encounters at the End of the World

[Image Credit: Image Entertainment / ThinkFilm]

Want to get away — like, really, really far away? Join famed documentarian Werner Herzog on a journey to Antarctica, where the uniquely-accented filmmaker asks important questions such as "is there such a thing as insanity amongst penguins?" Herzog is known for working quickly, but ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD took his method to an extreme. The crew was comprised of only two people, Herzog and cinematographer Peter Zeitlinger, and their quick working process meant there was no opportunity for research or extensive planning. That makes this a strange film; if you want an encyclopedic account of the region, go elsewhere. And yet it is an unvarnished documentary that captures the extraordinary challenges and sublime beauty of the very bottom of our world.

Never Cry Wolf

Great Outdoor Movies: Never Cry Wolf

[Image Credit: Buena Vista Distribution]

Four years after THE BLACK STALLION, director Carroll Ballard returned with another movie that delivers stunning outdoor vistas and experiences. NEVER CRY WOLF is a drama/documentary hybrid based on Farley Mowat's autobiography, which detailed Mowat's experience in the Canadian Arctic studying the supposed predation of caribou by wolves. The biologist, named Tyler in the film and played by the great character actor Charles Martin Smith (THE UNTOUCHABLES, DEEP IMPACT), develops a cautious relationship with two wolves, and also runs across an Inuit family. NEVER CRY WOLF is a stunning vision of rough life in the arctic.

The Way Back

Great Outdoor Movies: The Way Back

[Image Credit: Newmarket Films]

This underseen World War II adventure drama has two big points in its favor: Stellar outdoor cinematography shot in Bulgaria, Morocco and India, and a cast that includes Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris, Colin Farrell, and a relatively young Saoirse Ronan. Sturgess plays a Polish army officer who is sent to a Soviet gulag deep in Siberia, where he falls in with a group of fellow prisoners who plot an escape. There's just one problem: Fleeing the gulag means walking literally thousands of miles across parts of the Gobi Desert and eventually to the Himalayas. Australian director Peter Weir, who had grand early outdoor filmmaking experience thanks to THE LAST WAVE and PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK, turns the escape story into a tale of dogged perseverance set against some of the most amazing natural backdrops in the world.

Want to read about more great movies? Check out our best of the decade list!

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