10 throwback films to watch this weekend

    20 November 2020

    Two weeks into lockdown 2.0, it’s wet and cold, life has contracted and there are few distractions other than queuing for food in the rain.

    If you do wrap up and venture out, local parks and beauty spots are rammed with walkers and those aggressive runners imagining they’re one of the Brownlee brothers going for gold.

    Even home, unless it’s a small stately, is as claustrophobic as the capsule in Gravity, the interior of Das Boot.  So escape our small island and the stifling restrictions with one of these cinematic classics. After all, Nothing beats a slice of escapist nostalgia for fending off the November blues.

    Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

    ‘Vast echoing and God-like’ is how TE Lawrence described the red-hued sands and towering rock formations of Wadi Rum in southern Jordan. Director David Lean and cinematographer Freddie Young used 70mm cameras (instead of the usual 35mm) in order to capture the massive, spectacular expanse of the desert.

    Thelma and Louise (1991)

    Who doesn’t fancy leaping into the back of a T-Bird yelling “DRIVE LOUISE, DRIVE” right now and taking off on a road trip through the vastness of the American South-west? Oh — and picking up Brad Pitt’s cowboy along the way. Gorgeous cinematography tracks the duo’s escape from domestic — and federal — incarceration, through Monument Valley down to the Grand Canyon. The film’s ending is as unexpected as it is uplifting.

    Black Narcissus (1947)

    Powell and Pressburger’s psychological drama plays out against a panorama of snow-capped peaks and deep green valleys of the Himalayas, where a group of nuns are trying to establish a convent. The altitude and the swirling winds are so atmospheric, it’s astonishing to learn that it was filmed at Pinewood, with the mountains painted on glass.

    Shakespeare in Love (1998)

    Long before she became synonymous with yoni eggs, Gwyneth Paltrow strode across a great open swathe of sand in the closing scenes of the film that won her the Oscar for Best Actress. Her character is seen arriving in the New World, but Holkham Beach in north Norfolk (seven miles wide and a mile deep when the tide is out) stood in for Virginia, to dazzling effect.

    Badlands (1973)

    Lyrical photography, long lens shots and a mesmerising score accompany a roughneck and his teenage girlfriend (Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek) as they take off on a killing spree through the Midwest to the Badlands of Dakota.

    Local Hero (1983)

    When Texan oil exec Mac is sent to acquire the Scottish fishing village of Ferness for a new refinery, he’s seduced by the Northern Lights, the clear waters, white sand and eccentric locals. Filmed at Camusdarach on the west coast and Pennen in Banffshire, Bill Forsyth’s much-loved film is the closest that Nicola Sturgeon will let you get for the foreseeable future…

    Out of Africa (1985)

    It’s overly long and desperately slow, but so, so worth it for the flying scene. Once Robert Redford’s Gipsy Moth biplane takes off, the dialogue cuts out leaving just the jaw-droppingly beautiful Kenyan scenery and John Barry’s Oscar-winning score.

    Walkabout (1971)

    There’s no greater wilderness than the Australian Outback. Jenny Agutter and her younger brother  are cast adrift to wander the harsh, rugged landscape after their father kills himself. They survive only with the help of a wandering Aboriginal boy on his ritual ‘walkabout’ away from his tribe.

    The Sound of Music (1965)

    Back at the start of the first lockdown, there was a popular meme of Julie Andrews spinning around, arms outstretched, singing The Hills Are Alive — as armed police in gas masks moved in to arrest her. Enjoy the inspirational uplift as the von Trapps escape the Nazis by hiking over the Alps into Switzerland, singing as they go — absolutely none of it Covid-legal.

    Back to the Future (1985)

    ‘Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads.’

    Doc Emmett was right — but all we needed was a decent broadband speed, not a flying car.