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Landon Walker
Landon Walker

A Walk In The Clouds

The movie, set in the vineyards of Northern California in the months right after World War II, tells the story of a young man and woman who meet at a time of crisis in both of their lives, who agree to pretend to be married, and who end up desperately in love just when the pretense is about to fail. The plot lovingly constructs one barrier after another to their happiness, so that we can rejoice as each one falls, only to be even more alarmed at the next. And it sets their story in a place of breathtaking beauty. The director is Alfonso Arau, the Mexican filmmaker who had an unexpected success with "Like Water for Chocolate." Once again, he throws caution to the wind and goes for unabashed sentiment, for glorious excess, for love so idealistic it seems never to have heard of the 20th century. At a time when movies seem obligated to be cynical, when it is easier to snicker than to sigh, what a relief this film is! The movie opens with Paul (Keanu Reeves) returning home from the war, to a wife he married one day before he shipped out. He doesn't know her, and she hardly understands him. There should never have been a marriage. Now nothing is left. Paul leaves San Francisco on a bus; another passenger is Victoria Aragon (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon). They have a classic Meet Cute: He defends her from some aggressive guys, is thrown off the bus, walks on dejectedly, and finds her standing in the middle of the road with her suitcases. This is her home.

A Walk In The Clouds


Victoria is sad, and begins to cry. She is pregnant and forlorn, abandoned by a worthless man. She is afraid to go home to her father and confess her sin. Paul sees a way he might help: He could pretend to be her husband, they could make up a story, and he could leave in the morning. The grateful Victoria snatches at this straw, and they walk down to the family farm.

The movie now alternates between melodramatic crisis and picturesque set-pieces. On the one hand, there is the growing suspicion of Alberto, who wonders why, if this boy is married to this girl, he sleeps on the floor. On the other, there is the generosity of Don Pedro, who takes Paul on an early-morning walk to show him the root from which the entire vineyard has grown.

A spiral staircase leads to a nice reading nook before continuing on to a queen-over-queen bunk bedroom, another unique bath, and an extravagant walk-in cedar-lined closet. This pet-friendly cabin is also great for those traveling with a furry companion.

On the train to Sacramento, he meets a young lady who throws up on him. Paul tells her it's alright and continues with his journey. After the train journey, because of a ticket mix-up, he gets on a bus and again meets the same lady on the bus. After some rowdy punks hassle her, Paul gets into a fight and gets thrown off the bus. As he's walking, he sees the lady, Victoria Aragon (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon), sitting on her suitcase and crying. As they introduce themselves, Victoria tells Paul she's pregnant with her professor's child. Paul offers to pose as her husband in front of her orthodox and traditional family.

Sgt. Paul Sutton (Keanu Reeves) fights with two men who trouble a fellow female passenger (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon) on the bus ride. The bus driver throws all three of them off the bus. When Paul walks away, he realizes the lady on the bus (whom he also met on the train) is crying on her suitcase in the middle of the road.

The majority of the A Walk in the Clouds locations are in and around wineries in California. This scene with Paul and Victoria overlooking her family winery was shot at Duckhorn Vineyards close to Redwood Cellar on the same road. Catch bus number 10, and hop off at Hwy 29 at Byrd Hill Ln. The winery is a 15-minute walk from the stop.

As he finishes, everyone starts clapping, people start smiling, and Don Pedro walks out in the crowd saying, "Las Mujeres!!" The music immediately starts, and all the ladies enter the grape pit and start stomping!

The wine festival scene is one of the best scenes in A Walk in the Clouds. It is filmed at the picturesque Pasadena City Hall at the Large Courtyard. Getting to Pasadena City Hall is most accessible by metro. Simply get onto the Metro L Line (Gold), get off at Memorial Park, and walk for a few minutes to reach the Large Courtyard.

The A Walk in the Clouds filming location for this scene was the Downtown Harbor at San Pedro, south of Pasadena. To reach the Downtown Harbor area, catch bus number 142 and get off at 7th St & Palos Verdes St. From this stop, the Harbor is a 4-minute walk.

Houston restaurants are hardly unaware of their powerful effectiveness when it comes to changing the flavor and tenor of the city's culture. But you'll have to forgive one new player if it has had its head in the clouds lately. That's because it traffics where the air is thinner.

Tilt that busy head a little towards the sky. Watch a playful cloud wafting along. Notice their stillness; observe their transience. And drift along with them. No two clouds are alike. Like most beautiful things in nature, clouds too present themselves in an infinite variety of shapes, sizes, textures and moods. For a discerning cloud-seeker, there are thick clouds and thin; white clouds and grey; motionless as well as racing enthusiasts; singing clouds and thundering ones; beckoning clouds and threatening demons...

This is Peru's Kosñipata River Valley. Kosñipata is a Quechua Indian word that means "the place with smoke." It refers not to fires but rather to the clouds that smother the mountaintops, race through the valleys, drift like giant hot-air balloons across the landscape. Here, and in hundreds of mountainous forests around the globe, are where clouds live when they are on earth.

"It's an ecologist's dream," says Miles Silman, a forty-year-old ecologist from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, as he pores over maps of the region on his laptop computer during dinner at a tiny Peruvian restaurant on one of Cuzco's narrow cobblestoned streets. Silman's research is among the most ambitious and best funded in the world. "You can see things from leaf size to soil type change in a few hours' walk," he says. "It's like a playground for scientists. And we're just starting." In fact, as vital as cloud forests are, it's disturbing how little is known about them.

A cloud forest is natural serendipity, a fortuitous combination of a number of critical elements that together nourish life in quantities far greater and more diverse than anywhere else on earth. Moisture is the fundamental ingredient. Trade winds push clouds heavy with vapor in from the ocean, and the forests strip half of what they need from them. Indeed, much of the vegetation's nourishment comes not through the roots but through the leaves. In addition, these mountainous regions receive as much as twenty feet of rainfall annually. Consequently, water is everywhere: tumbling down cliff faces in long tendrils, dripping from leaves, soaking the sphagnumlike soil, suspended in the air. The perpetual fog scatters sunlight in all directions, and species have adapted to the steady half-light beneath the canopy.

In a research camp high in the mountains, I am roused from sleep by my guide, naturalist Monika Huaycochea Cuba, and beneath a moonless sky speckled with stars, we drive an hour north to an Andean pass called Tres Cruces, or Three Crosses. Groggily huddled under blankets, we watch a molten sun rise above an ocean of blue-gray clouds below us. The sight is entrancing. The Incas worshipped the sun, especially the sunrise, and some vestige of that veneration lives on as we are joined by a dozen Peruvians.

Finally there is a break in the dense vegetation, and we find ourselves standing on a ridge that affords a vertigo-inducing view of the whole forest. As we sit atop the world eating lunch in the sun, a bank of clouds, propelled by the wind, suddenly rushes uphill, wrapping us in its moist embrace and darkening the sun. And then, just as suddenly, it departs.

As it grows ever lighter, we walk along the road, watching parrots, long-crested pygmy-tyrants, and oversized hummingbirds. (In all, I will see more than 150 species of birds during my stay, including ten types of hummingbirds.) Polychromatic butterflies alight in search of salt. Their colors are wild, almost unbelievable: Some have black veins shooting through glassy wings; others are turquoise and black on one side, red and white on the other. Some birders who have seen all that the area has to offer are turning to butterflies, and many of them make the pilgrimage to Kosñipata.

Perhaps the most famous victim of disappearing clouds is Costa Rica's golden toad. This striking orange amphibian had the misfortune of occupying a niche at the top of the Monteverde Cloud Forest. The toad came to a point where it could go no higher and is now believed to be extinct. 041b061a72


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