One of the greatest American traditions is the Movie industry. So much of our modern culture revolves around what we have found on the screen and the magic that can come from the experience you get while in the theater. However, if you live in Idaho, you might feel like your state is under-represented in Hollywood or even in the independent film industry. That does not mean these movies do not exist. Sure, Idaho is not a prime shooting location or rife with stories to tell that modern audiences are looking for, though there are still a number of movies you can watch and enjoy that show off the Idaho landscape and might make you feel proud to be an Idahoan. Here are a few you might like.
I am going to start with a movie I recently watched and really enjoyed. Directed by Chris Eyre, the movie “Smoke Signals” came out in 1998 and focuses on the struggles of a family of Native Americans on the Coeur d’Alene Native American Reservation. It was the first movie produced almost entirely by Native Americans. It is a movie that everyone can enjoy with a lighthearted side and with a story that is universally important about a young man discovering the truth of who his father was. If you are Idahoan, you can find some of your state’s landscape and a better representation of how the Native American population really is, especially if all you have seen is the Lone Ranger and other old Wild West movies that do not do a very good job of portraying Native American people and characters.
Then there is the classic Idaho movie which you have probably come across, “Napoleon Dynamite.” I would be very surprised if you lived in Idaho and had never watched this movie at least once. Love it or hate it, the movie gives a very different perspective of Idaho life than “Smoke Signals” and is more about the loneliness that comes during teenage years. It is also an incredibly funny movie with a cast of strange characters put into both strange and familiar situations. There are no movies quite like “Napoleon Dynamite” and if you have not seen it, I recommend you take this look into the more awkward years of life. Opinions on the movie are generally mixed, with some finding the movie to be unentertaining, but even if you think it is a silly film, there are still redeeming qualities to be found within.
It might surprise you to know that the movie “My Own Private Idaho” is at least partially set in Idaho It stars Keanu Reeves of “The Matrix” and “John Wick” fame and is about two friends who journey across the world together with three major stops in Washington, Idaho, and Rome. It drew some influence from the works of Shakespeare, especially the Henry plays, though there are significant differences between the different works of fiction. Successful at the box office, “My Own Private Idaho” offers yet another look at the Idaho countryside if you are yearning to see more of your beautiful state on film.
If you are looking for a little bit of action/disaster movies, Idaho was also one of the shooting locations for the 1997 volcano movie, “Dante’s Peak” with Pierce Brosnan. While the volcano in the movie and the setting are largely fictional, there are some real shots of Idaho and there are some volcanic mountain ranges in the area that are real and might be something you have seen or want to visit in the future. Outside of some good-looking effects, it is not a very good movie, but that does not mean it is impossible to enjoy. Sometimes bad movies can be just as fun to watch as the best movies ever made. So, if you wanted to see James Bond fight a volcano, and also get a glimpse of a little bit of Idaho, this movie is your chance.
Of course, there have been about a thousand westerns filmed in Idaho over the many years Hollywood has been in business. Nothing quite makes for an old west setting as the somewhat barren deserts you can find in your state. A lot of these movies are not worth watching, so long after they came out (They were much better at the time when you could get away with making a lot of money on a low quality western) but there are a few that might be good enough to sit down for a little while and get a little lesson in film history.
There are actually quite a few movies set and filmed in Idaho if you are willing to search hard enough to find them. There definitely are not as many as are filmed in cities like Vancouver or the major American cities, but Idaho does have a look and feel that you cannot get elsewhere. Some of these movies are excellent. Some of these movies are very bad and represent different times. Either way, if you want to check out Idaho on the big (Or more likely little) screen, you are in luck.