25 Best Outdoor Movies
Survival Movies remind us that as bad as things get, they can always get better. We at the Wild West Trail recognize that lately there has been a lot of focus on social distancing and staying indoors, which often results in a disconnect from nature.
As you know, we love the outdoors and believe that it’s healthier to be isolated in the backcountry than quarantined inside your home.
That being said, if you are locked inside, this is the perfect time to brush up on some excellent movies focused on people taking on the outdoors and overcoming the wilderness.
Whether you are in self quarantine, or taking a zero day, our Best Survival Movies & Outdoor Movie List showcases the 25 best outdoor movies ever made – assembled below for your viewing pleasure.
Best Survival Movies
Our Best Survival Movies list showcases some of our favorite tales of determination and the will to live. From The Revenant to The Martian, survival is about overcoming seemingly impossible odds – often in the face of a hostile mother nature.
- In All Is Lost we watch Robert Redford’s character face his own mortality – as well as the dangers of the high seas.
- In Castaway, Tom Hanks becomes stranded on a deserted island when his plane crashes in the Pacific Ocean. With little chance of rescue, in order to survive he must figure out a whole new way of life.
- We included Life of Pi because technically it is a movie about survival. Also, it won some awards.
- The Wild West Trail list of Best Survival Movies wouldn’t be complete without 127 Hours. Based on a true story, James Franco’s character has to make an impossible decision when his arm becomes trapped underneath a boulder. To cut, or not to cut? — that is the question.
Whether you are stranded on Mars, lost in the wilderness, or floating in the open ocean, these movies remind us that the instinct to survive allows a person to endure – even when all hope seems lost.
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Best Hiking Movies
Our list of Best Hiking Movies includes our top 5 picks for getting into the spirit of a thru-hike.
- Reese Witherspoon in Wild helped to put the P.C.T. (and thru-hiking) on the map.
- In A Walk In The Woods, Robert Redford & Nick Nolte come together as two sexagenarians seeking to hike the Appalachian Trail. Based on a true story.
- In The Way, Martin Sheen embarks on a pilgrimage in Spain after the death of his estranged son.
- With a strong female lead (& Adam Driver supporting), Tracks tells the story of a woman who decides to cross the desert in search of solitude, along with her dog and four camels.
As we can see, long-distance hiking does get some love from Hollywood. While the movies listed above are designed to capture the hiking experience, the most authentic look into a thru-hike on our Best Hiking Movies list comes from the documentary Mile… Mile & A Half. A fantastic telling of 5 friends who hiked the John Muir trail; it’s full of actual hiking footage and may be just what you are looking for to get in the spirit of a thru-hike.
Did we miss anything? Leave your favorite Hiking Movies in the comments below.
Best Wilderness Movies
Topping our list of Best Wilderness Movies is The Last Of The Mohicans, directed by Michael Mann and starring Daniel Day-Lewis. I have seen this movie many times over the years. It features an amazing soundtrack, stellar performances, and beautiful cinematography.
Upon watching it recently I noticed there was a scene missing. I distinctly remember a specific, iconic exchange at the end of the movie that was no longer there. I did some digging and found out that Mann, being a perfectionist, had to re-shoot some scenes as many as 20 times. He was also heavily pressured from the studio to change his original version, which was nearly 3 hours long!
When The Last Of The Mohicans finally hit theaters, it was edited to be just under 2 hours in length.
This theatrical version doesn’t appear to have contained the dialogue that I remember, which wasn’t added until the 1999 release of the Director’s Expanded Edition. In 2010 a Director’s Definitive Cut was released on Blu-Ray. While this added a few small scenes, it removed the scene in question – the famous last scene in the movie!
We’ve included the missing dialogue here, for your enjoyment and consideration:
[Final scene in the movie, as Chingachgook is giving a eulogy for his fallen son]
Chingachgook : The frontier moves with the sun and pushes the Red Man of these wilderness forests in front of it until one day there will be nowhere left. Then our race will be no more, or be not us.
Hawkeye : That is my father’s sadness talking.
Chingachgook : No, it is true. The frontier place is for people like my white son and his woman and their children. And one day there will be no more frontier. And men like you will go too, like the Mohicans. And new people will come, work, struggle. Some will make their life. But once, we were here.
While all the movies in this list are worth watching, if you haven’t already – and especially if you love movies that take place in the wilderness – do yourself a favor and watch The Last Of The Mohicans.
Is our list of Best Wilderness Movies incomplete? Leave some suggestions in the comments below.
Best Outdoor Movies
On our list of Best Outdoor Movies we’ve included a few documentaries and a few classic films.
- In Free Solo and Touching The Void we get an in-depth look at what it takes to climb a mountain — both supported and unsupported.
- Grizzly Man tells the true story of a man who got a little too close, emotionally and physically, to a tribe of wild grizzly bears.
- Into The Wild is a beautifully made movie, complimented by an excellent soundtrack from Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder. Telling a story of wanderlust, we follow Emile Hirsch’s character into the depths of the Alaskan wilderness.
- We’re rounding out the list with The Great Outdoors. A classic comedy with Dan Ackroyd and (the late) John Candy. This movie is a whole lot of fun and should be added to your repertoire of watched films immediately.
This guide gives you a good place to start, whether you are interested in Outdoor Movies, Survival Movies, Hiking Movies, or simply movies that depict the wilderness in all her shining glory.
With all of these great outdoor films waiting to be watched, just be careful; there’s a world out there waiting to be explored, as long as you don’t get stuck on the couch.
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