Hollywood can get somewhat predictable. There’s a few things that you can rely on to come from the gilded studios of La La Land. One of those recurrent motifs of Hollywood is a good old-fashioned landmark destruction. Landmarks are sacred icons of the world. They instil a sense of national pride, but can easily transcend the country they are located in, becoming the pride of the world.
Take the tragedy at Notre Dame earlier this year, for example. If you ever wondered why Hollywood loves destroying landmarks, the reaction to the monumental blaze in Paris is proof. Everyone stopped what they were doing and the world watched with mouth agape at the scenes.
It’s this sense of destructive awe that Hollywood is trying to evoke every time they release a film where the White House blows up. It brings the unimaginable to life, evoking an emotional response and it frames the destruction of the movie in very measurable and relatable terms.
Not only that, but all of these locations are famous tourist spots. These are the travel markers of the modern age. You can’t just say you’ve been to New York, you need a picture in Times Square to show you have. So this makes the destruction even more understandable, as so many people have been to these places that they can appreciate the scale of it. Vibrant Doors played on this idea, making travel posters of famous landmarks destroyed by movie monsters.
There’s a long list of films to choose from when it comes to destroying the Hollywood Sign. The iconic sign of Tinseltown, the movie studios of Hollywood absolutely love destroying their most iconic symbol. The poster landed on the Terminator franchise in the end, and their 2009 outing with Christina Bale. Costing a cool $21,000 to build, modern film budgets could pay for the Hollywood sign to be built five thousand times over.
Statue of Liberty
Famously a gift from the French for inspiring them to revolt against their monarch, the statue of Liberty is an iconic symbol of New York and by extension, America. JJ Abram’s 2008 epic, Cloverfield, made light work of Lady Libertas. The kaiju in this film decapitated the statue, creating an arresting visual which featured heavily in the marketing materials.
The Golden Gate Bridge
Whilst on the topic of kaiju, Pacific Rim also featured these monsters, and they laid waste to the Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco in the opening sequence of the film. Before you had even settled in to your popcorn, the largest bridge in the world had already began its journey to the ocean floor. In the last ten years, at least nine movies have depicted the destruction of the Golden Gate Bridge, making it a favourite for filmmakers.
This one is slightly different as the schoolhouse in Bodega Bay, California wasn’t a famous landmark before the film that depicted its destruction was made. Alfred Hitchcock’s seminal horror film The Birds saw the building become a famous landmark, with Hitchcock and film fans making the journey to see the location. An exercise in location-spotting, Bodega Bay was the perfect unsettling backdrop for an unsettling film.
The Millenium Bridge
The hugely successful Harry Potter franchise even dabbled in some famous landmark destruction. Opening in 2000, the Millenium Bridge was closed the day after opening due to it swaying uneasily. More construction work was undertaken and it was opened again two years later. The Dementors saw to the destruction of the bridge in the 2009 outing of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
The Taj Mahal
Constructed as a mausoleum to host the body of his favourite wife, Mughal emperor Shah Jahah commissioned the Taj Mahal’s construction for Mumtaz Mahal. Located in Agra, the commemorative landmark met a comic end in Tim Burton’s sci-fi spoof Mars Attacks. Perhaps as an intentional nod to Hollywood’s propensity to destroy landmarks, Mount Rushmore and the Moai statues on Easter Island were among other significant sites to be attacked by the Martians.