Take A Dip: Films With Iconic Beach Scenes

What is it about the beach that’s so cathartic? The water? The endless grains of sand? Or the easy potential for drowning? Whatever it is, many directors have taken pleasure in filming final or key scenes against the backdrop of this tableau.

Zampanò copes with his life on the beach at the end of La Strada
Zampanò copes with his life on the beach at the end of La Strada
La Strada, 1954: Let’s delve right into one of the most intense movies on the list, Fellini’s La Strada. Following the misadventures of a strongman named Zampanò (Anthony Quinn) as he makes money off the only circus trick he can perform, La Strada is an unconventional take on the master-slave relationship, in which the master ultimately becomes the slave. It’s also a fucked up story about love.
The 400 Blows, 1959: Bored and troubled youth Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud) has no interest in school and is plagued by an unstable home life, mainly because his mother has a predilection for cheating. He is ultimately placed into a juvenile hall facility and finds sweet escape by retreating to the beach, his one true emblem of pure freedom.
Carefree.
Carefree.
And God Created Woman, 1956: Brigitte Bardot came into her own as a sex symbol with Roger Vadim’s 1956 film, And God Created Woman. In the role of Juliette, Bardot exudes overt sexuality that makes everyone in her town either uncomfortable or aroused. Ultimately, she finds a man named Michel (Jean-Louis Trintignant), to marry her, even though she’s more interested in his older brother, Antoine (Christian Marquand). Although everyone warns Michel that Juliette is going to end up making him “wear the horns” (of a cuckold, that is), he can’t resist her. The marriage is tolerable to Juliette at first, but when Antoine returns to their town for good, she starts acting strangely, retreating on a boat that she can’t handle, forcing Antoine to rescue her. The two end up washing ashore on a beach and, of course, fucking.
Beach temptress.
Beach temptress.
From Here To Eternity: And, speaking of beach fucking, no mention of it is complete without talking about From Here to Eternity. Fred Zinnemann’s adaptation of James Jones’ novel follows the romantic entanglements of three soldiers stationed in Oahu played by Montgomery Clift, Burt Lancaster and Frank Sinatra. Sergeant Milton Warden’s (Lancaster) affair with the captain’s wife, Karen (Deborah Kerr), eventually leads them to engage in one of the most iconic movie scenes ever created.

The Seventh Seal, 1957: Playing chess with death can be very unnerving. But with the scenic beauty of a beach as the setting for the game, you’re more likely to be able to deal with the acceptance of your death.
Playing to lose.
Playing to lose.
Splash, 1984: Apart from playing Elle Driver in Kill Bill, Daryl Hannah’s role as Madison in Splash is perhaps her most memorable. In addition to screaming, “My name is Eeeeeeeee,” Madison also gives Ron Howard the opportunity to show us plenty of gorgeous beach scenes of Cape Cod. No wonder Tom Hanks decides to retreat to the ocean in order to be with her.
Mermaid life.
Mermaid life.
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, 1962: Sibling rivalry takes on new meaning when Joan Crawford and Bette Davis play two competitive sisters in show business. Davis as the eponymous Baby Jane shows us the lengths of depravity one can go to in order to reclaim her dimmed spotlight. The result? Taking her crippled sister, Blanche–who Jane has also been depriving of food–to an L.A. beach after killing off the housemaid.
Macabre beach scene
Macabre beach scene
The Beach, 2000: Um, it’s Leonardo DiCaprio shirtless on a Thai beach for most of the movie. Who cares how shitty it is?
Smoldering Leo D
Smoldering Leo D
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2004: Romance is alive and well on the beaches of Montauk. The early and late stages of Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine’s (Kate Winslet) relationship blossom and deteriorate amid this unique oceanscape.
Bed on a beach
Bed on a beach
And so, if you’re chained to your desk and can’t make it out to the beach this summer, at least you have these amazing films to turn to for mental hydration.