Ranking the Best Campfires from Classic Movie Scenes

For thousands of years, fire has been a staple of mankind’s existence. I mean, who doesn’t love hanging out around a good fire? Which partially explains why the campfire is a hallmark in so many classic movies. But has anyone ever really examined Hollywood’s fires? Or ranked them? Or even considered them?

Here at Cutting Edge Firewood, we’re obsessed with helping our customers enjoy great fires using firewood for sale. For years we’ve provided folks all across the country with the highest-quality firewood and firewood for cooking, in addition to teaching them everything there is to know about outdoor and indoor fires. Needless to say, we know a thing or two about what makes a great fire. But before we jump into our power rankings of Hollywood’s top fires, a few ground rules.

First, indoor fires or fireplace scenes were not included on this list—only outdoor fires could be considered.

Second, we judged each fire based on several categories: brightness, temperature, size, coziness, and “wow factor.”

Third, all scores were scientifically verified by third-party experts and calculated using an advanced algorithm. Just kidding, everything you’re about to read is 100% subjective. Without further ado, let’s get this fire started.

Castaway - “The Fire from Scratch”

The scene from Castaway in which Tom Hanks’ shipwrecked character creates a fire using nothing but two pieces of wood and some tinder has to be one of the most iconic fire scenes of all time. Full stop. Sometimes when I make a fire in my backyard I yell (to no one in particular), “I HAVE MADE FIRE!”

Known as the “fire plow method,” Chuck Noland, a punctual FedEx executive turned island survivor-man, manages to create enough friction to light a small amount of tinder, which leads to a glorious, beach-side signal fire.

But let’s take a closer look at the beach bonfire towards the end of the clip. First off, it’s likely that Hanks’ character used driftwood to make that fire. Driftwood has a TON of moisture in it, meaning that fire is SUPER smokey and not that hot. (Comparatively, our kiln dried firewood goes through a rigorous, 48-hour drying process, making it so easy to light, even Wilson could do it.

Size: 4.2/10

Brightness: 4.5/10

Temperature: 4.8/10

Coziness: Considering his character has been stranded on the island for Lord knows how long without heat or fire, I’d say that fire is pretty dang cozy. 8.9/10

Wow factor: While the fire itself is nothing special, I mean come on—he made it from scratch! Don’t kid yourself—you think you could actually do it? 7.3/10

Total score: 29.7

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - “The Weathertop Fire” AKA “The Hobbit Fire” AKA “The Tomatoes, Sausages, and Nice Crispy Bacon Fire” AKA “The Nazgul Fire”

You gotta hand it to hobbits—even in the face of extreme danger and terrifying enemies, they never miss an opportunity to cook up a good campfire meal. Unfortunately, Merry, Pippen, and Sam picked the absolute worst time and location to light up a tiny cooking fire. In doing so, they attracted the attention of the deadly Ringwraiths who had been hunting them all across the Shire. Sorry, Frodo! But at least they saved him some tomatoes, sausages, and bacon.

Now, we can’t say for certain, but we’re reasonably confident that if given the choice, the hobbits and the rest of the Fellowship would have stocked up on our firewood for cooking when they set out on the long road to Mordor. Something tells us the hobbits definitely would be into high-quality cooking wood.

Size: 1.3/10

Brightness: 4.5/10 This was the hobbits’ main error. Although it’s not a particularly bright fire in and of itself (they likely used fallen wood as opposed to top-tier, kiln dried firewood for cooking, since they made their campfire atop a giant hill in the dead of night, the Nazgul were able to spot them from miles away.

Temperature: 2.3/10 but def hot enough to get that bacon niiice and crispy.

Coziness: I’d say their little cookfire was pretty cozy until it brought down a cadre of murderous Ringwraiths onto their trails. -8.3/10

Wow factor: Really depends on how crispy that bacon was, so we’ll never really know. 1.1/10

Total score: 0.9

Pirates of the Caribbean - “The Rum Fire”

Let’s just start with this—the next time you’re at the beach and you want to make a nice bonfire, we do NOT recommend torching a bunch of barrels full of rum. However, if you’ve been stranded on a deserted island and you need to attract the attention of nearby a ship, light those puppies up. Just save a barrel or two for Cap’n Jack, will ya? My guy loves his rum.

Size: 7.2/10

Brightness: 8.3/10

Temperature: 6.9/10 Normally wet wood doesn’t burn that hot, but if it’s soaked in rum, you’ve essentially made a giant molotov cocktail.

Coziness: Rum fires are generally not the coziest. 1.3/10

Wow factor: 5.3/10

Total score: 29

Three Amigos - “The Desert Fire”

You’d be hard-pressed to name a more iconic campfire scene than this one from the classic 1986 comedy Three Amigos starring Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short. Hilarious as the scene is, let’s just say their campfire is about as authentic as the faux desert backdrop behind them. I’m 99% certain that fire is a gas fire. But hey, at least the animals were real!

Size: 2.1/10

Brightness: 2.6/10

Temperature: 2.4/10

Coziness: They do make that desert look cozy. 7.1/10

Wow factor: 3.1/10

Total score: 17.3

Dumb and Dumber - “The Aspen Fire”

Though the fire in this famous scene from Dumb and Dumber doesn’t get much screentime, it’s worth taking a look. First off, it’s the only true fire pit in this entire list. Secondly, where’d they get that thing? Lowes? Home Depot? If they were so strapped for cash, how could they afford a fire pit? Add these to the list of unanswerable questions.

Since Harry and Lloyd only needed it for a short time, they should’ve considered taking advantage of our premium fire pit rental service, which includes a gorgeous fire pit, steel fire pit cover, designer fire iron and ash shovel, and a complimentary box of oak firewood. Only issue is, unlike Mr. Samsonite, we do not accept IOUs.

Size: 2.9/10

Brightness: 3.0/10

Temperature: Clearly not very hot since Harry’s hands were numb. 2.2/10

Coziness: Really just depends on how many pairs of extra gloves you’re wearing. 5.3/10

Wow factor: 2.8/10

Total score: 16.2

Dances with Wolves - “The Fire Dance Fire”

As prairie bonfires turned self-actualizing fire dances go, this a solid one.

Size: 6.9/10

Brightness: 6.4/10

Temperature: 5.9/10 Doesn’t appear to be that hot since he’s dancing so close to it.

Coziness: 5.1/10

Wow factor: If we’re taking Kevin Costner’s dance moves into consideration, that’s going to hurt the score. 1.3/10

Total score: 25.6

Kill Bill: Vol. 2 - “The Bill Fire”

The next time you build a campfire in the wilderness, make sure to invite somebody with a bamboo flute and a knack for great storytelling. In a fantastic cinematic example of Chekov’s gun, Bill tells assassin-in-training Beatrix Kiddo the legend of Pai Mai and the Five-Point Exploding Heart Technique in front of a gorgeous little campfire. Although to my eyes those pieces of wood don’t really seem to be burning.

Size: 3.1/10

Brightness: 3.3/10

Temperature: 4.1/10

Coziness: Combined with Bill’s bamboo flute and assuring voice, that vibe is cozy. The legend of Pai Mai is much less so. 6.7/10

Wow factor: 2.3/10

Total score: 19.5

O Brother, Where Art Thou? - The Robert Johnson Fire

Other than s’mores, does anything go better with a campfire than the tunes of legendary blues player Robert Johnson?

Size: 3.3/10

Brightness: 3.4/10

Temperature: 4.0/10

Coziness: 7.6/10

Wow factor: Considering that a world-class blues player is playing beside you’re fire, I’d say that’s a big wow. 8.9/10

Total score: 27.2

Stand By Me - “The Coming-of-Age Fire”

Now, we can’t overlook this scene from the classic 1986 coming-of-age film Stand By Me. Ok, so the fire is nothing to write home about, but the conversation topics are everything here. And by the way, Goofy is definitely a dog.

Size: 2.3/10

Brightness: 2.5/10

Temperature: 2.2/10

Coziness: 6.3/10

Wow factor: 1.9/10

Total score: 15.2

About The Author

Leroy Hite

Leroy Hite is the founder and CEO of Cutting Edge Firewood, an ultra-premium firewood and cooking wood company located in Atlanta, Georgia. Leroy's mission is to give people the experience of the perfect fire because some of life’s best memories are made in the warmth of a fire’s glow. He founded Cutting Edge Firewood in 2013 with a goal to provide unmatched quality wood and unparalleled customer service nationwide. The company offers premium kiln-dried firewood, cooking wood, and pizza wood in a wide variety of species and cuts to customers around the country.