Westerns have been a highly popular recurring theme here at Movie Maniacs. After all they are a bit of everything — morality play, cautionary tale, heroic epics, romance, adventure — more often than not set against glorious scenery that takes you back to when the earth was unblemished. And quite often filmed in Calgary and surrounds.
While Vancouver is often used as a location shoot because it can represent just about any large American city (only more beautiful), Cochrane, Longview and Kananaskis are filmed because they capture the unspoiled vistas we associate with a by-gone era. Often to the extent that the location is so powerful it can take on the importance of another character in a film. Clint Eastwood, Kevin Costner, Ang Lee and Brad Pitt have all chosen local areas for westerns.
Some of the more famous are Legends of the Fall, still one of my favourite sagas; Little Big Man, way too campy, but it did have its moments, and the scenery was spectacular; Unforgiven, granddaddy of them all and a big Oscar win for Clint; The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, very good performances, especially by Casey Affleck who turned puling into an art form; Brokeback Mountain, which will not be for everybody and is a 'western' only in the sense that they wore western clothes. Until they didn't. Open Range was filmed on the Stoney Reserve in southern Alberta and stars two perennial cowboys, Kevin Costner and Robert Duval.
Which brings us to Hell on Wheels. Filming of the first season took place in Calgary, and areas in central and southern Alberta. The T'suu T'ina Reserve was the location for most of the exteriors. Filming of the third season was suspended part way through when the location was included in the mandatory evacuation due to the 2013 floods. The fourth season's filming will also take place along the Bow and wind up around September 24, 2014.
The film and television industries are an important part of the Alberta economic landscape.The construction of a new $22 million Calgary Film Centre will include 50,000 sq ft of purpose-built sound stages, 20,000 sq. ft. of warehouse space and an additional 15,000 sq ft. for production, props, sets and wardrobes.
Have a wonderful Stampede! If you have visitors, watch one of these westerns and then try and show them the locations!