- The Karate Kid (Great Wall of China)
A young American boy and his mother move to Beijing, China, from Detroit, USA, to begin their lives afresh when his mother is offered a job. In China, Dre (Jayden Smith) has to learn kung-fu from his maintenance man, Mr. Han (Jackie Chan), in order to protect himself from bullies and earn their respect. Part of his training takes place on the Great Wall of China that is depicted in a few shots against a picturesque golden sunset with the accompaniment of instrumental music that aptly suits the scene. The site was used mostly for its aesthetics; it lent a sense of spiritualism, history and culture which is attributed to our ultimate understanding of kung-fu – that it is a way of life and not just a martial art. It is also one of the many diverse places where Mr. Han takes Dre to train to expose him to an understanding of the real meaning of kung-fu.
“Kung-fu lives in everything we do, Xiao Dre. It lives in how we put on a jacket, how we take off the jacket. It lives in how we treat people. Everything is kung-fu.” – Mr. Han (Jackie Chan)
- Finding Nemo (The Great Barrier Reef, Australia)
It is an animated movie that is set under the sea with an all-celebrity cast of voices including those of Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe, Geoffrey Rush and Eric Bana. A clownfish, Marlin (Albert Brooks), swims across the ocean with his friend Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) to rescue his son, Nemo (Alexander Gould), who has been captured and taken to Sydney. His adventures and encounters with a vast array of fish, birds, people and a particular whale make for a movie which is touching, humorous, educational and thoroughly refreshing. Marlin and Nemo live in the Great Barrier Reef, which forms the backdrop of most of the first part of the movie.
- Rio (Rio de Janeiro)
Blu, a timid mild-mannered bird raised in civilization, discovers that he is the last male of his species and he must travel to his natural habitat with his “mate” Jewel, a fiercely independent blue macaw, and repopulate their species. The journey takes them to Rio de Janeiro where they make friends, meet enemies, sing, dance and party!! This animated movie also has an extensive cast of actors including Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Jamie Foxx, Will.I.Am and Tracy Morgan. The significance of the site is evident in the name; the entire movie is essentially set against the backdrop of Rio de Janeiro during its Carnivale festival.
- Slumdog Millionaire (Taj Mahal, India)
A young Mumbai-boy born into poverty and raised in slums appears on the show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.” To his own amazement and the shock of the nation, he answers all the questions correctly, reaching the penultimate question at the end of the night’s show. Suspecting foul-play, he is taken into custody and interrogated all night. During this interrogation, through a series of flashbacks, he reveals to the police how he came to know all the answers through the course of his life experiences and reveals to the audience the story of his life, which is poignant and unsettling, yet inspiring and heart-warming. The movie is masterfully directed revealing a true and deep knowledge of the richness of Indian art, culture, tradition and its people. At the end of his story, it is revealed that he came onto the show, not for the money but for an ulterior motive that permeates every decision and every direction his life has taken thus far.
A life-affirming story of true love and the perseverance of the human spirit through great hardship. It is masterful!
The Taj Mahal, one of the grandest testaments to love, is the centre of one anecdotal flashback in which the protagonist and his brother scam tourists visiting the Taj Mahal to earn some money. They weave false stories to entertain them, take them on tours of the monuments and feed them misguided information, during which time the other brother and some friends attempt to steal the tourists’ money and belongings from their cars.
- X- Men (Statue of Liberty)
This movie is the first of the X-Men series to air on television. In this movie, 2 prominent characters, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Rogue (Anna Paquin) find each other, after Rogue discovers her powers, and travel to Xavier’s School for the Gifted where they meet and train with other mutants in an effort to control and understand their own powers. Simultaneously, another group of mutants under Magento (Ian McKellen) are attempting to expand the mutant gene by using a machine supposedly crafted to convert humans to mutants and are target the world’s most powerful and influential leaders, who are assembling at a summit to discuss the “Mutant Problem” on Ellis Island. The machine has been placed inside the Statue of Liberty, which is the context in which this WHS site appears in the movie.