From dense jungles to secluded beaches, lively capitals to colonial cities, this continent offers a lot of choice for the film industry! So it’s no surprise that there are so many great films set in South America. Here are some of our favourites…
The classic James Bond movie, staring Roger Moore, was filmed at numerous locations in Brazil. Probably most recognizable is the cable car scene in Rio de Janeiro, which sees Jaws and Bond trying to push each other to their death mid-air on Sugar Loaf Mountain. The stuntman playing bond very nearly did fall to his death after slipping off the roof of the car!
Another prominent moment in the film is the boat chase scene in the Amazon jungle, although it was actually filmed at Iguazu Falls. At the end of the scene Bond paraglides to safety, while Jaws and his boat are swept over the edge of the waterfall. The director originally tried to send a real boat over the falls, hoping for a more dramatic effect than could be created in a studio, but unfortunately the boat got stuck on the edge of the falls and couldn’t be retrieved.
Quantum of Solace (2008)
Another Bond film with scenes shot in South America, this time in Chile. The director wanted to represent Bond’s vengeful state of mind by filming in a harsh environment, and so choose the Antofagasta region in the Atacama Desert. However, this caused some controversy among locals, as the location is referred to as Bolivia in the film, despite being shot in Chile. There is no love lost between the two countries, after the War of the Pacific in the 1800s left Bolivia landlocked and poor, while Chile gained valuable mineral resources.
The Cerra Paranal, home to the ESO telescope and observatory, was the location for one of the film’s best action scenes. In the final fight scene, Bond infiltrates the ‘Hotel Perla de las Dunas’, as the villains are finalising their plans, and blows everything up and kills everyone (as you would expect!).
This Disney Pixar film, Up, tells the story of an old man’s journey to South America, in his balloon-powered house. His dream destination is the beautiful ‘Paradise Falls’, which are actually inspired by Venezuela’s Angel Falls. The incredible scenery in Up was created after a research trip to Matawi Tepui and the area surrounding the falls. The scenery they captured was so impressive that the director felt that it had to be toned down to make it more believable to a modern day audience!
Angel Falls and the tepuis also featured in Disney’s Dinosaurs (2000), which blended animated characters with scenery shot on location in Canaima National Park, Venezuela. The film received mixed reviews, and was criticized for having more than one plot hole. The worst one being that the lemurs who featured heavily in the film didn’t actually exist in the crustaceous period, but the director defended this mistake by stated that the mammals that were alive at that time were too “hideous” to include!
Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part I (2011)
The popular teen-film series reached its climax when the main characters, Bella and Edward, got married. In the original book, the honeymoon took place in a fabulous mansion on an island called ‘Isle Esme’ in the middle of nowhere. It proved challenging to find a suitable location, but eventually the creators settled on Paraty in Brazil, which isn’t even an island! The luxury holiday home featured was the ‘Casa em Paraty’ in Saco do Mamangua, and if you fancy recreated the film for your honeymoon, you better be prepared to fork out up to $15,000 a night…
Another scene in the film depicts the lovers having a night out in Rio, and was filmed in the Lapa district. To keep paparazzi and fans out of the shot, the film company paid locals to lock their apartments and not let anyone in to watch out of the windows. They also paid restaurants and bars up to $12,000 to stay closed during filming.
And finally the most South American film so far, Evita. It tells the story of the first lady of Argentina, Eva Peron, who rose from poverty to become the most powerful and influential women in the country. Filming, of course, took place in Buenos Aires, with some scenes also shot in Budapest.
Madonna was cast as the lead, and she fell ill many times during filming due to the emotional stress of playing such an important character. She also struggled to leave Argentina when filming was done, describing the locals as “very embracing, warm, passionate”, as they moved on to film in Hungary, which she described as working “in an environment where there is no joy”…
More Films Set in South America…
Of course there are countless other well-known films set in South America, including the lively animated cartoon Rio (2011), Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), and the classic story of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). But with so much amazing scenery and so many characterful cities to choose from, we want to see more films set in South America!
How about another James Bond film set in Rio, with chase scenes through the favelas? Or what about Colombia as the location for a grittier storyline? Or if all else fails Bond could swap the sports cars for a llama and take a take a break in the Peruvian Andes for a while!
While you’re here, why not take a look at some of South America’s best swimming pools?