Hollywood’s Love Affair with Lady Liberty: From “Saboteur” to “Adjustment Bureau”

Statue of Liberty photo by Nina Fazzi

Filmmakers love the Statue of Liberty for its cinematographer-friendly qualities.

From the 1942 Alfred Hitchcock film, “Saboteur,” to the Matt Damon-starrer “The Adjustment Bureau” (2011), Lady Liberty has been thrilling, scaring, and entertaining moviegoers over the years.

Filmmakers love the Statue of Liberty for all of its cinematographer-friendly qualities: its height (305 feet), location (New York Harbor), green color, and neoclassical grandeur. In “Saboteur,” a man tries to stop another man from falling off Lady Liberty’s torch by grabbing his sleeve, which slowly rips apart, leading to the inevitable fall. It’s a classic Hitchcock moment.

In “The Adjustment Bureau,” mysterious, hat-wearing men are chasing David (Matt Damon) and Elise (Emily Blunt). They end up at the base of the Statue of Liberty.

As for me, I will never forget the opening shot of the 1988 film, “Working Girl.” It shows Tess (Melanie Griffith) on a ferry, commuting from Staten Island to Manhattan, with the Statue of Liberty in the background. I saw this movie just before I moved to the United States. And, just like Tess, I was full of dreams and teeming with drive.

Visiting the Statue of Liberty

Lady Liberty photo by Nina Fazzi

Lady Liberty is imposing and charming in reality as in the movies. (Photo by NIna Fazzi.)

This past April, my family and I visited the Statue of Liberty. It was the second time for me and my husband, but it was the first visit for our 16-year-old daughter. I’ve just written a manuscript set in the 1930s. My female protagonist sees the statue upon arriving in New York, and so I wanted to see it again.

Movies can sometimes make an actor look taller or fatter. With Lady Liberty, she’s as imposing, charming, and delightful in reality, as in the movies.

Statue of Liberty in Movies

In addition to “Saboteur” and “The Adjustment Bureau,” here are some of the movies I’ve seen that also feature Lady Liberty.

  • “Escape from New York” (1981)
  • “Splash” (1984)
  • “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” (1987)
  • “Ghostbusters II” (1989)
  • “Independence Day” (1996)
  • “Titanic” (1997)
  • “The Day After Tomorrow” (2004)
  • “Oblivion” (2013)
New York Harbor skyline photo by Nina Fazzi

New York Harbor skyline (Photo by Nina Fazzi).

All photos by Nina Fazzi, April 2014.

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