Sit back, grab some popcorn, and get ready to see the Land of the Shining Mountains on the big screen
Author: Shane Cox
*All movie art credit belongs to IMDB
5. What Dreams May Come (1998)
There is an easy way and a hard way to see Heaven. The easy way is to live in Montana.
Led by legendary actor and comedian Robin Williams, this movie showed us the true meaning of the word “soulmate”. In this romantic fantasy, William’s character travels through Heaven and Hell to rescue the soul of the woman he loves. Along the way, he will reunite with his old dog Katie and his children who tragically died in a car accident and no I’m not crying I’m just SWEATING THROUGH MY EYES OK!!! (Seriously, it is a great movie, but have a box of tissues on hand)
Some of the most beautiful shots in the movie were filmed in Glacier National Park. While shooting, Williams decided to take a break and tour the area. (Traylor, 2014) He later said:
“If it isn’t God’s backyard, He certainly lives nearby.”
RIP Robin. There will never be another like you
4. Forrest Gump (1994)
Movies and Montana goes together like peas and carrots…
Montana makes a brief yet beautiful cameo in this legendary picture. During the running sequence, the shot of Forrest running though a field of golden wheat was taken just outside Cut Bank, MT. The scene then cuts to him jogging across a stone bridge at the St. Mary Entrance to Glacier National Park. (Movie-Locations: Forrest Gump, 2020)
Though Big Sky Country is only onscreen for few seconds, it was almost left out of the movie entirely! The studio, worried that the project was going too far over budget, threatened to pull the plug in the middle of production. Hanks and Director Robert Zemeckis decided to cover the cost of shooting the iconic running scene and save what is now one of the most beloved movies of all time. (Ashton, 2020)
As if we needed another reason to love Tom Hanks
3. The Untouchables (1987)
That’s the Montana way…
Chicago is great. But when you want your protagonists to charge the bad guys guns blazing while on horseback you pack up production and go to the Treasure State.
Based on real events, the movie follows Elliot Ness as he forms a team of special agents to take down the infamous gangster Al Capone. The movie’s (arguably) best scene takes place at Hardy Bridge just outside of Great Falls. (Movie-Locations: Untouchables, 2020)
This film is criminally underrated. In fact, you should stop reading this list right now and go watch it. Go ahead, I’ll wait…
2. The Revenant (2015)
The movie that FINALLY gave poor Leo his Oscar
While the movie is set in Montana and South Dakota, most of it was filmed in Canada. However, one of the film’s most pulse pounding scenes was shot in the rapids of Kootenai Falls, just downstream from Libby. In this scene Hugh Glass (played by DiCaprio) uses the waterfall to escape from a party of pursuing Arikara hunters. (Movie-Locations: Revenant, 2020)
I just gotta say…y’all know that scene where Leo eats a raw bison liver? Yeah, that wasn’t special effects. Real Liver. Real Reaction. He also actually crawled inside of a dead horse. All I’m saying is that if DiCaprio wanted to live in Montana he would fit in around here just fine. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Honorable Mention: Return to Lonesome Dove (1993)
A Cowboy’s Odyssey
This 4-part mini-series, while technically not a movie, deserves a place on this list. The sequel to the epic adventure Lonesome Dove follows Captain Woodrow F. Call’s return from Texas to his ranch in Montana.
This series is the perfect binge watch for fans of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies. The filming locations span across the state and include Butte, Cardwell, Virginia and Nevada City, Laurel, and Billings. (Return to Lonesome Dove: Filming and Production, 2020)
Fun Fact: My Dad worked on the Set #2 of this movie while he was in college. He was paid $100 a day to pick up and hide barb wire fences so they were not caught on camera. He and his coworker would spend their free time hunting rattlesnakes to turn into boots and hatbands to sell to the California crew.
I’m sorry, but my Dad is cooler than your dad. 🙂
1. A River Runs Through It (1992)
I’ll never leave Montana, Brother
There is no other way to end this list than with the most iconic Montana movie of all time. While most of these entries only take advantage of the state’s amazing scenery, Montana provides the heart and soul of this beautiful story.
While the film was set in Missoula and by the Blackstone river, the scenes in town were filmed in Livingston, MT. Likewise, the fishing scenes were captured in Paradise Valley on the Yellowstone River, the Gallatin River south of Bozeman, and the Boulder River by Big Timber. (Movie-Locations: River Runs Through It, 2020)
So many elements of this movie make it special. Norman Maclean’s story was adapted by Richard Friedenberg and brought to life by director Robert Redford. The entire cast is amazing, with now legendary actor Brad Pitt standing out among the crowd.
If you were born under the Big Sky…you need to watch this movie. If you have, you know why I can’t put the feeling into words. This film reminds us where we come from. It reminds us of Home.
Ashton, W. (2020, January 2). Forrest Gump: 10 Behind-The-Scenes Facts About The Classic Tom Hanks Movie. Retrieved from Cinema Blend: https://www.cinemablend.com/news/2487844/forrest-gump-10-behind-the-scenes-facts-about-the-classic-tom-hanks-movie
Movie-Locations: Forrest Gump. (2020). Retrieved from Movie-Locations: https://www.movie-locations.com/movies/f/Forrest-Gump.php
Movie-Locations: Revenant. (2020). Retrieved from Movie-Locations: http://movie-locations.com/movies/r/Revenant.php
Movie-Locations: River Runs Through It. (2020). Retrieved from Movie-Locations: http://movie-locations.com/movies/r/River-Runs-Through-It.php
Movie-Locations: Untouchables. (2020). Retrieved from Movie-Locations: http://movie-locations.com/movies/u/Untouchables.php
Return to Lonesome Dove: Filming and Production. (2020). Retrieved from IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0106112/locations?ref_=tt_ql_dt_5
Traylor, A. (2014, August 11). Remembering Robin Williams in Montana: His Visit to Glacier National Park. Retrieved from 107.5 Zoo FM: https://1075zoofm.com/robin-williams-montana/#:~:text=Remembering%20Robin%20Williams%20in%20Montana%3A%20His%20Visit%20to%20Glacier%20National%20Park&text=Scenes%20from%20the%20film%20’What,was%20directed%20by%20Vincent%20Ward