Dominican Republic Up Close
Watch These 10 Movies Before You Visit the Dominican Republic
Bahia de Las Aguilas near Pedernales
Photo: José Miguel Pérez
Before you land in this magical Caribbean island nation, check out our must-watch list of the top 10 movies filmed in the Dominican Republic.
Some pretty famous films have been shot in the Dominican Republic - while you’re here you might recognise locations from blockbusters like Jurassic Park, Apocalypse Now, Rambo, The Godfather and Miami Vice.
1. Apocalypse Now
Although most of Apocalypse Now was shot in the Philippines, key segments were filmed at the Chavón River in La Romana, Dominican Republic. You know the epic scene of the aerial attack with Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries playing? That’s the Chavón River. The Chavón also makes an appearance in Jurassic Park and Rambo: First Blood Part II and Jurassic Park.
2. Jurassic Park
Set on the fictional island of Isla Nubar, most of the original Jurassic Park was actually filmed on Kauai in Hawaii, but when a hurricane interrupted filming, some footage had to be shot over the Chavón instead. The opening scene was filmed inside the Puerto Plata amber museum - if you visit the museum you can still see the exact mosquito trapped in amber used in the film. It’s said that Spielberg’s visit to the museum is what inspired the movie. The early scene of a waterfall was filmed at the Salto Jimenoa Uno waterfall.
3. Godfather II
For the Godfather II, whole streets in Santo Domingo were transformed to look like Havana in post-revolutionary Cuba. Visit Duarte Avenue and Mella Avenue and you’ll see the atmosphere is much the same today. The scene recreating Fidel Castro arriving with his revolutionary army was filmed at the National Palace in Santo Domingo.
4. Fast & the Furious: Los Bandoleros
In the Fast & the Furious: Los Bandoleros, you can see cars being thrown around the streets of inner-city Santo Domingo.
5. Miami Vice
For Miami Vice, sections of Santo Domingo were transformed into sets made to look like Haiti, Colombia and Cuba. To make the Spanish-speaking capital look convincingly like a Haitian city, filmmakers changed street signs into French and even changed the color of many of the buildings.
Filming locations include the Colonial District (Zona Colonial), Duarte Avenue and the parking lot at the corner of 42nd street and Mercado Nuevo in the Capotillo district.
Looking for films that showcase the Dominican Republic and Dominican culture? These five must-watch Dominican movies will give you a feel for the beautiful and diverse culture, people, and landscape of this magical island nation.
Back in 2012, the Dominican Republic passed legislation aimed at boosting the local film industry, and we’re starting to see the results. Some of these are available on popular streaming services (depending on your subscription & location), making it easy to soak up the atmosphere of the DR without even leaving the couch.
01. Algún Lugar (2015)
Algún Lugar follows the adventures of three teenagers as they travel through the beautiful Dominican Republic. A visual treat that shows off the best of the landscape on offer in the DR, the story is also deeply emotive and engaging.
In search of meaning, Oliver, Moses, and Hemingway drive around this Caribbean island nation. Algún Lugar delves into the relationships of young men, capturing their desires, hopes, and dreams. The director, Zouain, does a fantastic job visually and also teaches us a thing or two about friendship and life.
02. La República del Color (2016)
The director of the visually stunning La República del Color argues that the vistas of the DR countryside changed the way artists used color forever. The movie showcases some of the most beautiful natural spots in the DR, explaining that this part of the Caribbean enjoys a quality of light found nowhere else on earth. This engaging art history film is simply gorgeous and a great watch for anyone excited to explore rural DR in their upcoming trip.
03. Woodpeckers (Carpinteros) (2017)
Woodpeckers explores the idea that love can pop up almost anywhere and anytime in life. The story follows a young Haitian-Dominican man who is jailed in Santo Domingo for petty theft and soon becomes immersed in the system of ‘woodpecking’.
‘Woodpecking’ is a unique sign language used by inmates to communicate with women in the adjacent prison. This unique love story was shot on-site in the actual prison using real inmates, except for the two lead roles. It’s an unmissable film from the Dominican movie industry.
04. Cocote (2018)
Cocote follows the story of Alberto, an evangelical Christian man who works as a gardener in the city of Santo Domingo. He returns to his hometown in rural DR to attend the funeral of his father, recently killed by a powerful local man.
Alberto takes on a mission to avenge his father’s death, and the rest of the movie is an edge-of-your-seat thriller. A high-tension action film, Cocote is one of the best Dominican movies out there.
05. Perico Ripiao (2003)
The last Dominican movie on our list is pure fun and entertainment. A comedy, Perico Ripiao is about three men who escape prison with nothing more than a güira (a traditional Dominican percussion instrument), tambora and accordion - the traditional instruments in a Merengue musica band.
The movie follows their hilarious journey as they try to find their way back home, meeting interesting characters along the way. All three are forced to use their musical skills to get them home safely. If you fancy a good laugh and light-hearted insight into Dominican life and humor, Perico Ripiao is the movie for you.
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