Much more than simple scenery, gardens are essential features in many movies and to their plots. They can be modern, fairy-tale, eccentric or traditional, they leave vivid images and inspire landscape designers and their clients alike. Simply for something enjoyable to look at, we show below 4 of our favorite movie gardens!
© Photo credit: Shaiith / Adobe Stock
Jacques Tati and the absurd garden in Mon Oncle (1958)
Reconstitution at the Centquatre, Paris of the famous garden from the movie Mon Oncle
© Jean-Christophe BENOIST, CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
It would be difficult to make a more colorful or geometrical garden than the one in the Villa Arpel! Absurdity reigns in this ultramodern living space. Moviegoers remember with some amusement this improbable zigzag path, these unusable flagstones and this defective fountain which intermittently sprinkles the guests. All the art of this garden stems from Jacques Tati’s commitment to caricaturing the architecture of the Fifties. With help from decorator Jacques Lagrange, for his first color movie he designed this garden of contrasts where plastic water lilies grow in fine colored gravels and robotized machines which only do what they want. Great Art as a background and contributor to the many gags which punctuate Mon Oncle!
Tim Burton and the topiary art in Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Peg Boggs enters Edward’s castle grounds
Lovers of topiary art will probably remember the splendid eccentric box trees in the garden designed for the movie Edward Scissorhands. The hero has this nickname because instead of hands he has shears: handy! A handicap which he transforms into an asset by creating uniquely whimsical topiary creatures including a dragon and a dinosaur. This merry, colored and original garden is utterly different from the castle it encloses which frightens the local population. This eccentric, secret, and so personal garden proves to be a breath of fresh air in the microcosm of the insipid and falsely perfect suburbs dominated by the “American Way of Life”. The moral of the story is that things are not always what they seem!
In The Secret Garden by Agnieszka Holland (1993)
Mary, her cousin Colin and Dickon the young gardener
In this movie based on the novel with the same title, the garden is so central that it could be the main character. When Mary, a young orphan dares to enter in the garden of her uncle’s lugubrious castle, she discovers a hostile space, completely abandoned and invaded by weeds. The plot of the movie revolves around the transformation of the garden into a living, fairy-tale place, a metamorphosis which mirrors the curing of the illnesses of the “heroes” in contact with this strange place. This movie garden is the quintessential therapeutic garden! A movie which ends with a sentence particularly emblematic for professional landscapers: “If you look in the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.”
Tarantino and the Japanese garden in Kill Bill: volume 1 (2003)
Beatrix Kiddo and O-Ren Ishii in the final scene of Kill Bill: Volume 1
Nobody is likely to forget this duel with the katana which marked the history of the cinema. In this movie focused on Beatrix Kiddo’s search for revenge on her attackers, the Zen Garden appears when the tension peaks. The movie climaxes in this minimalist scenery as the two protagonists move slowly in a deadly combat in the middle of a splendid snow-covered Japanese garden, punctuated by the typical noise of a shishi-odoshi fountain. Even the trellises contribute to this memorable choreography!
When gardens act out the result exceeds the wildest dreams of every professional landscape designer! And don’t miss The Rosemaker, the first film to promote horticulture!