6 Fictional Places You Didn't Know Actually Existed

#3. The Canyon City from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

The Fictional Setting:

When you try to remember a setting from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, we're betting you come up with two: "That cliff they drove the tank off of" and "That weird hidden city carved into the rock face where they found the grail."

"There was definitely a boat, too. Or a submarine. Maybe both?"

It is cool, but also looks kind of fake. Who would take the trouble to carve a whole hidden city into a remote canyon?

The Real Place:

That city is completely real, and it is called Petra.

In the film, the grail is stashed in an ancient temple deep within the Middle Eastern desert in "The Canyon of the Crescent Moon."

Referred to in earlier drafts of the script as "The Desert of the Frowny Face."

Surely that has to be a matte painting (which, to our younger readers, is a thing they used to do in the days before a director could just beat his dick against a computer until it shit out alien landscapes). But it was modeled after the narrow canyon that leads through the ancient Jordanian town of Petra:


It was once the capital city of the ancient Nabataeans, who were apparently so far ahead of their time they carved their buildings directly into the stone for what we're assuming was a safeguard against nuclear war (today we known that you can forgo all that stonecutting nonsense and invest in refrigerators).

Bernard Gagnon

Bernard Gagnon
If it were wired for FIOS, this would be the ideal supervillain lair.

The city remains perhaps the single most jaw-dropping surviving masterpiece of rock-cut architecture on the planet, boasting a theater, a monastery, numerous tombs and, at the end of a narrow passage, Al Khazneh: the treasury.

David Bjorgen, Graham Racher

Yep. It's a friggin' bank.

#2. The Emerald Bamboo Forests from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

The Fictional Setting:

Here's another one from the "only setting from the movie you can immediately remember" category -- the bizarre forest where the martial artists from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon had their sword fight atop flimsy yet impossibly tall trees:

"How the hell did we even get up here?"

The Real Place:

Bamboo forests like that can be found around the world, and they're actually more striking than what you saw in the movie. Here's Arashiyama, a forest outside of Kyoto, Japan:

All Japan Tours
Before you can walk down this pathway, you are literally required to fight whoever is with you.

Of course, Crouching Tiger wasn't the first movie to realize what an awesome setting bamboo forests would be for karate fights -- they turn up in House of Flying Daggers and the 1993 epic poem/anime expose on supernatural rapists Ninja Scroll. The consensus seems to be that the more bamboo you stick into a sword fight, the more likely it is to be awesome.

Seventy-eight of the script's 94 pages are totally blank except for the words "More bamboo."

When you see them in real life, it isn't hard to understand why filmmakers feel so inclined to toss in a bunch of sword-fighting ninjas, because chances are you're already imagining that yourself.

Bernard Gagnon
Looks like Mother Nature's compensating for something.

A particularly stunning example is China's Shunan Bamboo Sea, which stretches over an area covering more than 500 hills:

China Travel Depot

Without question, each one of those hills is like a Pez dispenser full of samurai warriors. There are several more examples all over the Eastern hemisphere, each picturesque landscape just begging for a decades-old blood feud to be settled among their branches.

The soil here is fertilized with fallen legends.

#1. Several Locations in Pixar's Up and Cars

The Fictional Setting:

For starters, check out Paradise Falls from Up:

The Real Place:

It's pretty much a photograph (with some artistic license) of Venezuela's Angel Falls:

Number 3 on Cracked's list of "Best Things to Ride a Barrel Off Of."

Holy crap, the real thing looks more like CGI than the animated movie.

Pixar films love to reference and tie in to one another, but as a general rule they keep references to the real world at a minimum (surprising, we know, that a studio would want to keep its movie about a green Cyclops with the voice of a Jewish comedian separate from reality). However, when the real world does show up, it's pretty spot on.

Even the house of main character Carl was based on a real place, although Pixar refuses to reveal the identity of the inspirational location. However, Internet sleuthing has narrowed it down to this house in the greater Oakland area, and we have to admit, it's pretty freaking close:

The fact that it's raised up has nothing to do with flying and everything to do with flood insurance premiums.

But all that is beans compared to the town in Cars. The history of Radiator Springs and its struggle with the tourism industry was directly inspired by the real-life town of Amboy, California, but the physical locations in the movie were taken from places all over the Western United States. And by "taken" we mean directly copied.

Clinton Steeds
Guess which one is a great place to buy meth.

The left photo is Ramone's body shop from the film. The right is the U-Drop Inn in Shamrock, Texas. Then there's the Cozy Cone Motel:

Motto: No leg room!

Which is clearly based off the Wigwam Motel in Arizona:

Wigwam Motel
If we know our road motels, at least a third of those wigwams are active crime scenes.

There's even a subtle reference to a famous billboard for the Jack Rabbit Trading Post, also in Arizona (on the right there):

Honestly, it seems like Pixar just drove along Route 66 and put all the most interesting sights in the movie.


Even the speedway at the beginning of the film was based off of the Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee:

Auto Racing Sport

Now somebody take us to that volcano island fortress Syndrome had in The Incredibles.

Jacopo della Quercia is the proud author of "Go @#$% Yourself!" - An Ungentlemanly Disagreement, by Filippo Argenti and "The Sound of Laughter" in Wordplague's The Four Humors. David is a freelance writer and aspiring screenwriter, follow him on Twitter or check him out over at Film School Rejects.

For more fiction that became reality, check out 7 Real World Heists That Put 'Ocean's 11' to Shame and 5 Real Bank Heists Ripped Right Out of the Movies.

And stop by LinkSTORM to learn where the hobbits are.

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