As I began to write this, it was Monday and I’d only had one cup of coffee, which is never a good start. I was feeling a little glum and not just because the weekend was over (Mondays can be mean), but also because it was a pretty miserable day here in the Midlands. Light drizzle when I got up at 6am turned to full on rain and didn’t really stop, keeping things grey and washed out of colour for most of the day. Days like this are best spent when you don’t have to leave the house and you can curl up with a good film or two, and more caffeine, naturally.
A daydream while waiting for my laptop to fire up, and I fought to actually stay awake, had me pondering being somewhere else, not the usual beach that one imagines as summer draws to an end and Autumnal chills creep in. No, I’m too much of a dreamer and film geek to do that. My mind was on pretty lanterns floating off on a calm river towards a gorgeous sunset. I watched Kubo and the Two Strings at the cinema yesterday, so I found my mind wandering to the absolutely beautiful Japanese landscapes constructed there and the storytelling world Kubo inhabits. As I love a good list, it seemed like an appropriate time to do a little more daydreaming and wonder about my top 10 fictional places I’d love to live or explore.
Middle Earth (Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit)
It’s probably no surprise that Tolkien’s world is one of the first places on my list. While I haven’t quite gotten around to finishing reading The Hobbit and I’ve only read LoTR once, I do make a yearly pilgrimage to my DVD shelf and ensure that I watch the trilogy, nay trilogies now, once a year. It’s a tradition, one started by my wonderful parents that I’ve upheld since moving out to university and moving in with my boyfriend.
While I’ve included Middle Earth as a whole, if you pressed me to choose just one place it would be Rivendell. Home of the Elves, I believe I might have emitted a squeak of awe the first time it appears on camera. Dreamy, light and a picture postcard, it embodies the nature of fantasy. It’s as graceful and majestic looking as its inhabitants and the design still blows me away. The various pillars and bridges that connect each building to the next are stunning. Some of my favourite scenes in The Fellowship of the Ring take place there and I’m always grateful we get to visit it at least once in the following two films. I’ve long teetered around the idea of having a Rivendell tattoo and my most recent re-watch of the trilogy has ensured I really need to make it happen. I’ll keep you posted on that!
It’s impossible to mention Middle Earth without including The Shire. Perhaps it’s because it’s the first place we’re truly introduced to, but it feels special. Even typing words about it, I have the iconic Shire score by Howard Shore in my head. It has that feeling of being serene, homely. Perhaps a place to retire or take a week or two out to escape everything.
There are so many places and while we don’t always get to spend as much time in them as we’d like, none are any less fascinating than the next. I want to have a pint at The Prancing Pony, ride through the lands of Rohan, (misguidedly) see the Mines of Moria and at least gaze upon The Lonely Mountain. I haven’t even mentioned Mirkwood, Isengard or those creepy marshes on the road to Mordor either.
San Fransokyo (Big Hero 6)
This place is so vibrant in its colours and design that it’s a treat to the eyes. I can only wish I’d first seen it as a child, more naive and even more easily impressed. Still, as I am a fully grown child, it still worked. Big Hero 6 is a superb film in its own right and I was only disappointed that we didn’t see more of the city once the film had stopped and I’d wiped away a tear or two. When that’s your only criticism of a film, you know they’ve done well.
A genius mash-up of Tokyo and San Francisco, you get the best of both worlds and it’s such a great idea. Like having the steep, house-laden streets of San Francisco, but lined with the lush cherry blossom trees of Japan. The blend of traditional Japanese architecture with cutting edge-architecture. And of course the little blimps flying high are adorable. Of course I would need my own Baymax if I were to live there. Action suit or not. Among the modern looking architecture and neon lights there’s also the world of the illegal bot-fights. This is a grittier, darker world, but no less intriguing. When I watched the film for a second time, I was able to enjoy and take in more of the surroundings. I particularly love the Lucky Cat café that Hiro’s aunt owns and that they live above.
San Angel /Land of the Remembered (Book of Life)
If you’ve not yet seen The Book of Life, please do. It’s a very charming animation from a couple of years ago that’s underappreciated. Set in the fictional Mexican city of San Angel, it’s focus is on its Day of the Dead celebrations and the imagery is so, so good. If you’re a sucker for all things Day of the Dead like myself, it’s a visual treat. It’s bright, littered with skulls and the animation has its own unique stamp, different to the others I’ve included on this list.
The attention to detail is insanely intricate. I follow a great Tumblr that’s all about the detail and the small things and is worth a browse if you’re interested (here). We’re lucky that we get three separate worlds to explore, what with the city itself and the Land of the Remembered and the Land of the Forgotten. All are unique and very beautifully designed, no detail spared. Equally scary in its design as it is joyful depending on where you are during the film, it’s a fairly sophisticated film compared to some children’s films. There’s so much more here for the adults and you can feel Del Toro’s influence. Magic and monsters in equal measure.
Hogwarts/Hogsmeade (Harry Potter)
Is it cheating to have a joint-location for this? Oh well.
I’m from the generation that grew up with Harry Potter. It was the first book series I read, and re-read several times. Even before the films, I had great visions of Hogwarts and how stunning it would look. The films portray it pretty much exactly how I envisaged too, making it no less spectacular. From the castle grounds to the moving staircases, artwork adoring the walls and the great hall, it’s lovely. If only my school had looked half as beautiful (asbestos ridden ceilings and temporary stacked classrooms somewhat lack charm), I’d have enjoyed school more.
Anybody who likes Potter and has been to Potter World in Watford will know the feeling of walking into the room where the scaled model of Hogwarts is. It’s so detailed it’s unreal. I must have spent fifteen minutes in that room looking at it all and just admiring the craftsmanship. I’d love to go back and see the snow covered version I believe they do for Christmas too.
Then there’s Hogsmeade, every young child-teenager’s dream. Quaint and quirky, it’s easy to see why the school rushes down here. I also loved the winter scenes here.
Stars Hollow (Gilmore Girls)
I was going to keep this exclusively all film places, but I’m currently re-watching Gilmore Girls in anticipation of the new episodes and I had to. Stars Hollow is a quirky small town where everybody knows everybody and possibly dangerously, know’s each other’s business. They have daft traditions, limited places to go and some very unique residents. But who doesn’t want to go have some coffee and pie at Luke’s diner or sit and read a book a la Rory on the Bandstand. Plus some of their traditions are actually kinda sweet.
It’s in Connecticut so they get a good mix of weather and importantly, plenty of snow. The houses they live in are large and old-fashioned, wraparound porches an plenty of land. The inn Lorelai and Sookie buy is a dream, I want to own it!
Plus the place always looks so pretty with all of the lights and the square that everything is built around.
Highgarden (Game of Thrones)
It was between this and The Wall, but ones is looking particularly more hostile right now. Highgarden was a place I fell in love with when reading the books. This is despite the fact that primarily we hear and read about it rather than spending any time there. The show has yet to feature it properly, though we know it’s primary family, the Tyrells well, but the sound of it alone is great. Those who have been there speak so highly of it, groves and fountains, lots of marble and a beautiful design. We hear of how you can take pleasure boats on the water and there’s gardens aplenty. It sounds classy and relaxing. A serene throw from King’s Landing you could say!
Artwork is all we have to go on currently but it’s enough for me. Many read it as being George R Martin’s interpretation of medieval France and I’m sold. Medieval castles and buildings are some of the best.
Halloweentown (Nightmare Before Christmas)
I pondered for a while about including Halloween Town. Perhaps because it feels more like a kind of visit and then leave again place rather than somewhere to call home, but I really would love to at least see it. They sing a little too much for me to be able to cope with living there but I adore the style and look of the place. I’d like Jack as a neighbour and to be able to stand on the hill and maybe get my own cute dog.
Cloudy City (Bespin in Star Wars)
Tatoine nearly won just for the amazing X bar alone, I had many places I wanted to choose from Star Wars. Hoth challenged this the most, but again with the cold. Star Wars, similarly to LoTR has plenty of options though.
Gotham City (Batman/DC)
A perk to living in Gotham is the personnel. A downside is some of the personnel. But with Batman and co on your side, it might not be so bad. A re-imagined New York City, it’s always fascinated me.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (From Wes Anderson film of same name)
I struggled with my 10th choice, so many options. Zootropolis’ Metropolis nearly nudged this out, but I loved this setting so much.
I’m thinking in its glory days rather than later on. It’s got a gorgeous setting, sort of attentive staff and great design inside. I’d like my own suite please and just to watch life play out.
I’d love to know where other people daydream of going or visiting?