Many films are set in breathtaking locations. It’s part of the film’s appeal often, this visual impression from the setting, a natural supplement to plot and characters. Big budget films in particular are able to take the crew and actors to beautiful locations to shoot, whether that be the Caribbean or sub-Saharan Africa. But for some movies, it’s not nature or nation that draws the most attention on screen, it’s the architecture. When a movie is set in one location or house, that building becomes almost like another character at times.
This is more often noticeable in television shows, where you’d instantly recognize the apartment from Friends and How I Met Your Mother, or you’d likely know even the house from animated shows if you saw them in real life, through sheer force of repetition. More than simply being a staple or a supporting role though, some houses in film are almost a leading role, making up such an integral part of the story or the style of the movie so as to bolster the entirety of the rest of the content. There are a few residences, from mansion to house, to tiny cabin, that are particularly impressive or charming, and that would be amazing to own in real life. Or even just stay in for a few nights — some of which you actually can stay in. Let’s take a look at some of the most impressive mansions to ever appear on the big screen.
1. The Royal Tenenbaums’ house
Many schools have children participate in a drawing exercise where they design their perfect future house. The children usually seem to come up with something not so different from what we see in The Royal Tenenbaums. The household is shaped to fit each of the eccentric and ingenious individuals, and of course it’s both enormous, expensive, and in fitting with the aesthetic that the film’s director, Wes Anderson, always keeps to. The house itself is located in real life on 144th Street in Harlem, New York. Obviously it didn’t come with the internal design eventually shown in the film, that was carefully constructed, but after the shooting was over it eventually was bought and is currently being lived in, according to Untapped Cities.
2. Citizen Kane’s mansion
Commonly referred to as one of the best films ever made, Citizen Kane depends a great deal on the extravagant yet cold setting of Kane’s mansion to leave viewers with the proper feeling of loss and alienation portrayed by Kane’s decent into madness. The mansion is based on a real location, Xanadu, where the man the film is based on, William Hearst, had his own enormous mansion built. You can still visit it on a tour in California, all 127 acres and 165 rooms, including multiple pools, tennis courts, what was once a small zoo, and a movie theater.
3. The Shining’s Overlook Hotel
Admittedly, you might not want to live in the Overlook Hotel as it’s portrayed in the movie; haunted and staffed by a homicidal man. But with creepy twins and elevators full of blood excised from the beautiful and unusual design of the hotel, it would be an insanely lovely place to live all by yourself, or with your wife and child — who hopefully wouldn’t talk to his own hand. The Overlook Hotel is unarguably a huge part of what makes that film, and its retained the fame brought to it by the movie. It’s still a hotel you can visit to this day — actually it’s two. The inside of the hotel was based on the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite, while the outside of the hotel was from Timberline Lodge in Oregon.
4. Swiss Family Robinsons’ tree house
This one goes without saying. What child, teenager, adult, and elderly individual has not seen that film and thought “man, that tree-house is nicer than my apartment!” Just me? Either way, that is one hell of a fancy tree shack they put together with nothing but scraps and nature — almost unbelievable a cynic might say. All of those gadgets and neat window contractions, those pulleys to bring things up and down the tree, not to mention the neat decorations and animals scattered around the house.
5. The Great Gatsby’s house
Who wouldn’t want to live in a jazz filled house of booze, extravagant parties, beautiful women, and powerful politicians, which, at its worst, is empty and filled with expensive luxuries? The inspiration for the house in the novel, which in turn led to the film, is said to be a house in Long Island, New York, which currently lies in ruins.
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