You’ve settled into your caravan or motorhome after a day in the wilderness and it’s time to wind down with a film. So which movies best embrace the splendour of the great outdoors?
The Revenant (2015) (cert 15). A lot was made of this visceral tale of a lone man’s battle with a hostile environment and even deadlier human foe. And while you have to take some of the depicted near-death escapades with a large pinch of frozen salt, there’s something about the scale of the natural setting which is unforgettable. Also watch how Tom Hardy manages to reveal his character’s dark soul while remaining tough as a hand axe. Leonardo DiCaprio – in the more difficult lead role – does more squinting than revealing. Don’t watch if you have any kind of bear nervousness. Really.
The Edge (1997) (cert 15). Before The Revenant there was this less majestic but arguably more gripping tale of men facing nature, a bear (again, those dang bears, this one played by “Bart the Bear” rather than a CGI construction) and ultimately each other in the North American wilderness. Get past the questionable leap that an intellectual billionaire (Anthony Hopkins) can morph into Bear Grylls just because he’s so damn clever, and here’s an enjoyable survival romp penned by master craftsman David Mamet.
Local Hero (1983) (cert PG). The Road to Damascus comes in many forms, and this one snakes along Scotland’s West Coast. The wonder of this film is how American businessman “Mac” MacIntyre (Peter Riegert) is slowly won over from the Dark Side, not so much through persuasive argument or even the charms of the locals, but more by the beguiling magic of the Scottish landscape that bludgeons him tenderly into submission. Thirty years on, of course, life is imitating art, but – so far – without the satisfying ending.
Long Weekend (1978) (cert 15). Batten down the hatches and switch on the lights before watching this genuinely disturbing horror from the Australian film archive. A bickering couple (and boy, do they bicker) attempt to get their marriage back on track by heading to the outback in their motorhome for a weekend away. Unfortunately for them their host – nature – is not in the mood for guests. This is a haunting, at times terrifying, much overlooked film, which puts civilisation firmly in its place. Probably best to watch it on your last night away from home, though.
Withnail & I (1987) (cert 15). Okay, okay, so it starts and ends in a tatty 1960’s London landscape, but the wide-eyed, hapless antics of our heroes (Paul McGann and Richard E Grant) as they slip, slide and drink their way around their countryside escape is still the funniest depiction of urban buffoonery clashing with countryside rawness ever made. Endlessly quotable, hilarious, and ultimately touching, it’s also great viewing while sipping gin or cider (ice in the cider, natch).
Macbeth (2015) (cert 15). It’s hard to take your eyes off the stunning Michael Fassbender as he brings a passionate fragility to this most Scottish of roles. Yet the way the gruelling terrain frames the narrative in this engrossing adaptation is jut as impressive. Mountain, mist, rock and dirt dominate the characters, rendering them hapless pawns as the world (and fate) wheels and turns around them.