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Scenery Gorn / Film

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  • James Cameron's Avatar has a fine example with the first human installation that we see on Pandora, a pit mine in the middle of a beautiful bioluminescent forest. Later in the film, the destruction of the Hometree.
  • Armageddon The post-meteor shower shots of New York City
  • Some totally real Scenery Gorn in The Battle of San Pietro, a 1945 documentary film about the battle between Americans and Germans for the tiny eponymous town that sits right on a strategic road. The third act of the movie is pretty much nothing but Scenery Gorn, as the documentary cameras follow the American soldiers into the town, which has been bombed into oblivion. (In Real Life the villagers didn't even bother to fix things; instead they built a new town next to the ruins.)
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  • Blade Runner. Almost the de-facto example of Scenery Gorn, with dozens of slow camera pans depicting the Los Angeles megacity. But some would call it Scenery Porn instead.
  • The Land of the Forgotten from The Book of Life, which is a very grey place filled with the forgotten dead, who are likely to crumble to sand at any given moment.
  • Terry Gilliam's Brazil.
  • Castro Street: A 10-minute experimental film collage that takes a pretty ugly setting (an oil refinery and a railroad switchyard) and makes it even uglier with lots of superimposition and out-of-focus shots and distortion and other camera tricks.
  • Saving Private Ryan has Ramelle, a bombed-out town with a key strategic bridge, guarded by less than a platoon of paratroopers. It doesn't get any better when the film's final battle takes place in this town.
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  • Doomsday has many scenes of a decayed and abandoned Glasgow in the aftermath of a plague.
  • Independence Day's multiple shots of ruined New York and Los Angeles after the alien attack. (Also other cities around the world, as much of an afterthought as this parenthesis.) The strongest of these was probably when Jasmine first emerges from the rubble and sees the ruins of Los Angeles, complete with poignant background music.
  • Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings had this in spades.
    • LOTR is made of Scenery Porn during the "good times" parts, and Scenery Gorn during the "struggling times" parts. You could make the argument that LOTR could be referred to as simply Cinemasturbation for its attention to detail in everything.
    • The best example is probably the view of the ruination of the Shire in the Mirror of Galadriel (the actual canon Scouring of the Shire was cut from the films, so this was Jackson's way of wedging it in). As Sam and Frodo say in the books, seeing your own home devastated when you remember it being pleasant is far more horrifying than some anonymous landscape that you never knew before it was ruined.
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    • Mordor itself is Scenery Gorn.
      • According to the books there is a more fertile region of Mordor, although you still wouldn't want to spend a vacation there, but we don’t get to see it in the films.
  • While the Mad Max films are mostly set in regions that were pretty desolate to begin with, some urban ruins viewed from the air at the end of Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome do invoke this trope.
  • The burning wax museum in the opening of Mystery of the Wax Museum.
  • 28 Days Later. London is still in good shape, it's just ominously empty and has some overturned cars and scattered trash. On the other hand, the entire city of Manchester is a burning ruin.
  • Terminator
    • The Terminator managed Scenery Gorn without actually having the budget to have that much actual scenery.
    • The larger budget of Terminator 2: Judgment Day allowed for this combined with Desolation Shot in the opening scenes, complete with the classic "sea" of human skulls covering the ground, and the title sequence of a children's playground burning in the nuclear fires.
  • Parodied in Scary Movie 4 where Detroit is shown this way both before and after the alien invasion, the only difference being the latter having TriPods.
  • Parodied in Idiocracy - the cause of the destruction is not war of any sort, but the degenerating intelligence of the human race. Incomplete highways that people drive off anyway, buildings held together with duct tape, etc.
  • The Matrix films (particularly the first) certainly spent some time on the "desert of the real".
  • No Country for Old Men has plenty of this - from the barren, desolate Texas scenery to the long shots of dead bodies in the early stages of decay. Lesser directors might have actually shown the firefight between the dealers that Llewellyn stumbles upon. This would have been a mistake, as the audience likely would have found it to be exciting. Instead, all we see is the horrifying aftermath, and it is incredibly disturbing and effective.
  • To show the raging chaos Los Angeles is in at the start of Demolition Man, the Hollywood sign is on fire.
  • Sky Blue has numerous shots of the desolate world being pounded by a 100-year-old toxic rainfall.
  • The Remake of Dawn of the Dead (2004) starts with Scenery Gorn in the making. Tired from her long shift, the protagonist fails to recognize the numerous clues about the in-progress Zombie Apocalypse until the next morning.
  • Koyaanisqatsi's "Pruitt-Igoe" sequence. Overlaps with real life, obviously, since it's an impressionistic documentary.
  • Wristcutters: A Love Story is full of this. The movie takes place in an afterlife for people who commit suicide. It's pretty much barren wasteland with various heaps of trash strewn all over the place.
  • 9 is MADE of this.
  • The city in Se7en, where urban decay is exaggerated to emphasize that this is a Crapsack World. Also Real Is Brown, and heavy doses of Film Noir.
  • Take your pick among every war movie ever made.
  • The Dollars Trilogy was famous for this. While the environments were very beautiful, they were almost always parched, dusty and deadly-looking. Even the farm at the beginning of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is surrounded by miles of vast nothing.
  • Played for Laughs in Mars Attacks! - the Martians are shown taking great glee in creating this. Among other things, our heroes are awarded medals in front of the wrecked Capitol building.
  • The Element of Crime: In the grim darkness of post-World War II Germany, there are only ruins and flooded buildings.
  • Star Trek III: The Search for Spock: Destruction of the Enterprise, and maybe the death throes of the Genesis Planet as well.
  • Tarkovsky's Stalker spends nearly three hours alternating between this and plain old Scenery Porn. It goes from a nearly-abandoned and falling apart city to beautiful grasslands and then to a half dozen destroyed tanks in about ten minutes. That is lightning quick for a Tarkovsky movie.
    • Some of it was shot in an abandoned and horribly polluted industrial complex, with devastating consequences for the cast and crew's health.
  • The Road is pretty much composed of this trope, along with After the End.
  • Dagon's Imboca has seen better days, to put it mildly.
  • Dances with Wolves, when we see the buffalo that were killed just for the sake of killing them.
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon does this with the Decepticon invasion and destruction of Chicago.
  • Battle: Los Angeles has numerous wide shots of the titular city, with burning buildings, heavy palls of smoke, and countless strewn bodies. Pretty much any wide shot in the first two minutes and after the first twenty minutes involves this.
  • In Toy Story 3, the dump, the conveyor belt, and the incinerator.
  • The original cut ending of Alien: Resurrection, restored in the special edition, has Ripley and Call sitting in a desert-like area of Earth filled with all kinds of debris. The final shot reveals that they're overlooking a thoroughly destroyed Paris, complete with the Eiffel Tower missing the top half and an orange-tinted cloudy sky (apocalypticly confirming an earlier throw-away line, "Earth... what a shithole.").
  • The Earth in WALL•E is weirdly both this and Scenery Porn: the trash-covered wasteland is both pretty depressing and awe-inspiring at the same time.
  • Inception has the dream city collapsing into the sea near the end.
  • The desolate hellscape of city in Children of Men.
  • In Coraline, after the title character finds the last MacGuffin, the world unravels in a truly surreal animation sequence.
  • Standard fare in The Book of Eli, though the major landmarks are fairly well off.
  • Patton starts with a battlefield complete with scavenger birds looking for meat and scavenger humans looking for uniforms and ration packs.
  • In Oblivion (2013) most of the Earth has been wrecked and we get lots of shots of crumbled, bombed, and/or partially buried landmarks (among them the Empire State Building, the New York Public Library, Brooklyn Bridge, the Pentagon (implied to have been ground zero for a nuclear strike during the Alien Invasion war) and Washington, DC).
  • Star Trek Into Darkness:
    • Harrison sets off a bomb in the middle of London. Fortunately(ish) it only kills forty-something people.
    • The Enterprise navigates a massive debris field orbiting a nearby planet.
    • A starship crashes into San Francisco and destroys a large part of the city. Including Alcatraz and the Trans-America building
    • Averted in one sense as there were no sightings of a Gorn.
  • The devastated Metropolis downtown, and, obviously, Krypton in Man of Steel.
  • Los Angeles looks like a wasteland in Elysium.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2, Hogwarts gets wrecked when its besieged by the Death Eaters.
  • You'll be hard pressed to find a Godzilla film that doesn't feature this in some form.
  • District 12 during The Hunger Games: Mockingjay events (after being bombed into oblivion by Capitol hoverplanes), anyone? When you saw the ruins of the town you surely were as horrified as Katniss...
    • District 8 takes it Up to Eleven, as the process of turning it into complete wreckage is shown.
  • The Bed Sitting Room is based on Spike Milligan and John Antrobus's satirical World War III play, but for a surreal comedy its depiction of what's left of Britain After the End is frighteningly realistic. And according to the director, there were parts he didn't have to fake...
  • Planes: Fire & Rescue has a lovingly animated scene of a bridge aflame and collapsing at the film's climax that is nothing short of terrifyingly beautiful. The scenes of the canyon aflame at the end are also contenders.
  • Fury (2014) has plenty of it, being of course, a war movie. Notable is the first German town the crew stops in which is, mostly, intact. Only then the artillery fire comes in and turns half the buildings to rubble.
  • Bridge of Spies depicts both Berlins like this, a fact lampshaded by James Donovan. In Germany, the only non-gorn locales are the Soviet embassy in the East and a hotel in the west.
  • The second half of Titanic (1997) depicts many scenes of the grand and beautiful ship slowly being destroyed as it sinks, especially when grand staircase floods and when the ship splits in half.
  • Zabriskie Point by Michelangelo Antonioni has a famous final sequence of an Imagine Spot where Daria, the female lead, imagines a desert compound filled with tacky real-estate moguls and their girlfriends and mistresses (of which she was one of them), exploding in a fiery explosion, and then seguing into a montage that shows the same explosion from multiple angles, going closer and closer, until you can see the shrapnel, the glass shards, the flying bricks and cements, and finally a dream sequence where every single article, condiment, product, furniture, bookcase, book, page and other objects are destroyed in the explosion in infinitesimal detail, all said to the tune of Pink Floyd.
  • Several examples in The Last Jedi, but probably the most striking is the result of Admiral Holdo ramming the Raddus through the First Order fleet. At lightspeed. The results are like nothing ever seen in a Star Wars film before.


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