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Best Movies Set in Utah

Every state is known for something. As you work your way through the list, don’t miss the best movies set in Utah. While at it, check out the best books set in Utah, too.

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Utah is a landlocked state in the Mountain West sub-region of the Western United States. It is bordered to its east by Colorado, to its northeast by Wyoming, to its north by Idaho, to its south by Arizona, and to its west by Nevada. Utah also touches a corner of New Mexico in the southeast.

Utah Flag

What themes are in Movies Set in Utah?

Movies set in Utah often explore a variety of themes, drawing on the state's unique landscapes, history, and cultural elements. While not as prevalent as some other states in film, Utah's distinct features and identity have been depicted in various genres. Here are some common themes found in movies set in Utah:

  1. Nature and Landscapes:
    • Utah's stunning natural landscapes, including deserts, canyons, and mountains, often serve as a backdrop. Movies set in the state may highlight the beauty of the environment, emphasizing themes of exploration, survival, and the clash between nature and civilization.
  2. Religion and Culture:
    • Utah is known for its association with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Films set in Utah may explore the religious and cultural aspects of the state, addressing themes of faith, community, and the challenges faced by individuals within the LDS Church.
  3. Pioneer Spirit:
    • Given Utah's history of Mormon pioneers settling in the region, movies set in the state may evoke the pioneer spirit. These films may depict the challenges of settling in a new and often harsh environment, emphasizing themes of resilience, determination, and community building.
  4. Outdoor Adventure:
    • Utah's diverse geography provides a setting for outdoor adventure films. Themes of exploration, survival, and the human connection to nature can be prevalent in movies set in the state, especially those featuring activities like hiking, rock climbing, or rafting.
  5. Family Dynamics:
    • Movies set in Utah may explore family relationships within the context of the state's cultural and religious background. These films could delve into themes of tradition, generational conflicts, and the importance of family bonds.
  6. Historical Events:
    • Some films set in Utah focus on historical events tied to the state, such as the founding of Salt Lake City or events related to the Mormon pioneers. Historical dramas may explore themes of persecution, migration, and the establishment of a new community.
  7. Small-Town Life:
    • Utah has its share of small towns, and films set in these communities may portray themes related to rural life, close-knit communities, and the challenges faced by individuals living in smaller settings.
  8. Identity and Belonging:
    • Movies set in Utah might explore themes of identity and belonging, particularly for characters navigating the cultural and religious landscape of the state. This can include coming-of-age stories or narratives about individuals finding their place within the community.
  9. Conservation and Environment:
    • Utah's unique ecosystems and environmental challenges may be addressed in films that touch on themes of conservation, land use, or the impact of human activities on the natural world.
RELATED:  Best Movies Set in Colorado

While not as prolific in cinema as some other states, Utah's distinct features and cultural background contribute to a range of themes explored in movies set within its borders.

How to Create a State Unit Study for Utah

If you are an educator or homeschooler, here's how you can create a state unit study for Utah, in addition to watching movies set in this state:

  1. Define educational goals and objectives.
  2. Select key topics (geography, history, culture).
  3. Gather diverse resources (books, documentaries).
  4. Create structured lesson plans.
  5. Include hands-on activities (maps, cooking).
  6. Plan field trips or virtual tours.
  7. Integrate STEM concepts (geology, environment).
  8. Connect with literature related to Utah.
  9. Explore Utah's art and culture.
  10. Develop assessments for understanding.
  11. Consider a culminating event.
  12. Stay flexible and adapt based on learners' interests.
  13. Celebrate Utah's holidays and traditions.
  14. Connect with local experts for real-life insights.

Best Movies Set in Utah

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Harrison Ford, Denholm Elliott, Alison Doody (Actors)

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Year: 1989

“Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989) is a thrilling adventure directed by Steven Spielberg. Harrison Ford reprises his role as the iconic archaeologist, Indiana Jones, who embarks on a quest to find the Holy Grail. Joined by his estranged father, played by Sean Connery, they face Nazis and ancient traps. The film is a dynamic blend of action, humor, and family dynamics, exploring Indy's past and showcasing the enduring charm of this beloved cinematic hero.

127 Hours
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • James Franco, Amber Tamblyn, Kate Mara (Actors)

127 Hours

Year: 2010

RELATED:  Best Movies Set in All 50 States

“127 Hours” (2010) is a gripping survival drama directed by Danny Boyle. Based on a true story, James Franco stars as Aron Ralston, an adventurer trapped by a boulder in a remote Utah canyon. The film chronicles Ralston's harrowing struggle for survival over 127 hours, exploring themes of isolation, determination, and the human will to live. Boyle's intense direction and Franco's compelling performance make this a visceral and emotionally charged cinematic experience.

image of Monument Valley Landscape in Utah

Vanishing Point (English Subtitled)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Aviaq Harper (Actor)

Vanishing Point

Year: 1971

“Vanishing Point” (1971) is a cult classic. Kowalski, a former car racer and delivery driver, unfolds the film as he bets he can deliver a car from Denver to San Francisco in record time. A high-speed pursuit ensues, exploring themes of freedom, rebellion, and the American counterculture. “Vanishing Point” is celebrated for its exhilarating car chases and symbolic narrative, becoming a notable entry in the road movie genre.

  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, Morgan Freeman (Actors)


Year: 1995

“Outbreak” (1995) is a tense thriller directed by Wolfgang Petersen. The film follows a team of scientists trying to contain a deadly virus that has the potential to wipe out humanity. As the outbreak spreads, they race against time to find a cure while facing bureaucratic obstacles.

RELATED:  Best Movies Set in Ohio

“Outbreak” explores the high stakes of scientific and moral dilemmas, delivering a suspenseful narrative that taps into real-world fears of pandemics and the consequences of unchecked viruses.

Footloose (1984)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, John Lithgow (Actors)


Year: 1984

“Footloose” (1984) is a lively musical drama. Starring Kevin Bacon, the film centers on Ren McCormack, a city teenager who moves to a small town where dancing is prohibited. Ren challenges conservative beliefs and restrictions, leading to a rebellious movement among the youth. Filled with energetic dance sequences and an iconic soundtrack, “Footloose” celebrates individuality, freedom, and the universal joy found in music and movement.

Utah mark

Now that you’ve completed the list of the best movies set in this state, why not check out some others? Here are the Best Movies Set in All 50 States.


Click here to download this printable. It has a list of movies in all 50 states, including the Best Movies Set in Utah.

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Further Reading About the State:

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