Our goal this glorious blue sky day was to find and photograph the cemetery scene location from the film Legends of the Fall. It was not an easy task. The site is obscure and undocumented, although we had a rough idea where it was located, and we knew that given its remote location getting there would require a hike in. There are no roads leading to it – just cow paths and rough cart tracks. We had to use those big nuggets on out heads that God gave us to track it down and our feet to get us there. That’s how we like it.
Let’s look at the three LoF movie scenes we’ve chosen to explore this trip. The location, by the way, is along the Bow River just east of Seebe Alberta.
The first screen image from the movie shows a river at sunrise. It’s a transition scene, connecting one element of the story to another, and appears only briefly. Finding the location, as it turned out, was easy and seeing it in daylight was something else. It’s a stunning place! Note the elements that help line it all up – the small pond and the cliffs in back. They match those seen in the film.
In the next scene, we see Brad Pitt’s character Tristan Ludlow, at his brother’s grave. It’s a touching piece where he laments the passing of his younger sibling Samuel, who died at his side on the battlefields of World War One. Tristan feels responsible for this death and it will haunt him for the rest of his life.
Finding this location required us to traverse the top of some steep bluffs high over the river, until things looked right. That’s the spot, we found it!
Not seen in the photo is a dangerous drop off just to the left of the shooting position. It’s a long way straight down to the river! In the background to the right we can see flat faced Mount Yamnuksa, a popular scramble destination, along with the interconnected Door Jamb Mountain, Loder Peak and Old Goat Mountain to its left. Other peaks seen further again to the left include Heart Mountain, Mount McGillivray and Pigeon Mountain. On our visit they were somewhat obscured by a blue haze (from forest fires).
The third and final scene we chose to use from the movie was shot at roughly the same spot as the second, only at a slightly different angle. It the movie, we see One Stab, a helper at the Ludlow Ranch, standing with Samuel Jr. They morn the passing of Isabel Two, Samuel’s mother, Tristan’s wife and One Stab’s daughter. She was killed in a skirmish with corrupt police under the employ of a local bootlegger.
Many other scenes from the movie were shot in the area. Far too many for us to document this day. We hope to return. In fact, if plans go well, it’ll take many visits to record them all. Interestingly, a scene from the 1950s Marilyn Monroe movie River of No Return was also filmed nearby.
Visiting this site requires hiking down the Bow River valley along what we call the Horseshoe Canyon trail to its end. Then we bushwhacked into the Stoney First Nation’s Reserve for a time, which is otherwise off limits unless you have permission as we did.
The movie Legends of the Fall was released in 1994 and was for the most part well received. It’s about the trials and tribulations of a family of brothers and their father living on a remote wilderness ranch in the early part of the twentieth century. Legends was was not Brad Pitt’s first work – he’s been acting since the late 1980s – it was however the one that really catapulted him to stardom. In the words of many, “he’s dreamy”.
People may ask why do we do these then and now reports. I guess it’s because we can. Researching the objective is always a good challenge (we find them only using our detective skills) and getting there is often fun too. Lining up the shot and getting it right, or at least close, is yet another exciting element. Finally, knowing that our readers find these interesting makes it all a worthwhile.
We really enjoyed shooting this series. The gorgeous setting made it a visual treat, the work to get it done was both challenging and enjoyable, and the subject matter was to us quite interesting. It made for a fun outing.
Images from the movie are copyright TriStar Pictures/Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Check out these movie “then and now” posts…
Brokeback Mountain then and now – Elks Lodge and Ennis’ Apartment.
Silver Streak movie then and now – walking the tracks.
Superman 3 then and now – bridge scene.
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date of adventure: August, 2014.
Location: Near Seebe, AB.