Travel movies. They’re the ones that just make you want to pack your bags and go. Those that awaken your senses to a dream of traipsing untrodden places and stirred your travel perspectives through sight, sound and imagination. Here are ten amazing films that awakened and stirred mine.
*Photo credit: IMDB, except for A Map for Saturday; photo taken from the A Map for Saturday official website.
Up is the perfect convergence of lighthearted humor, unforgettable characters, a multi-textured and heartwarming storyline and superb toon graphics -all characteristic of Pixar films. Moving, heartfelt and oftentimes, hilarious , it speaks of so many truths about traveling without being condescending or straightforward. Definitely one of my favorite travel movies of all times.It tells the story of Mr. Fredricksen, a senior, who after the death of his wife, travels to South America to make his and his wife’s childhood dream of building a house atop Paradise Falls – all via a floating house. Along the way, Mr. Fredricksen meets 8-year old wilderness explorer Russell, talking dogs, a humongous multi-hued bird named Kevin, and a childhood hero-turned-villain.
One of the best travel lessons it imparts: don’t wait till you’re old and ragged to live out the dream. The best day to pack your bags and go is today.
2. Lost in Translation
This Sofia Coppola debut is both a sweet and poignant portrayal of how culture shock and loneliness can play out in travels, and how it is the people we meet who can break that and push out of our shells. Scarlett Johansson stars as the third wheel wife who’s always left alone in desolate hotel rooms as her husband, a photographer, roams around with his first love: his job. The ironies are beautifully wrought, like that scene where Scarlett sobs in her lonely room amid a whirring background of hectic and vibrant Tokyo streets.
3. A Map for Saturday
A documentary on the realities of long-term traveling featuring numerous backpackers from countries around the globe (including a diabetic senior who’s a cancer survivor), A Map For Saturday is the closest you can get to experiencing the ups and downs of backpacking for months on the road. Raw, honest, detailed and at times, humorous, this movie did sure give me a clearer, level-headed perspective of what that life is like.
4. The Darjeeling Limited
The Darjeeling Limited is the story of three brothers who venture into a soul-searching/ reconnection journey to India a year after the passing away of their father. While it may be a bit boring for the non-black comedy fan, the peculiar and multifaceted culture of India, its beautiful deserts and rural provinces, plus an amazing view of Nepal are enough reasons for you to watch ze film. And that metaphorical ending where they leave their baggages behind – just epic.
5. 127 Hours
An exhilarating two-hour journey into the pulse-raising thrills of the outdoors and one man’s inspiring struggle for survival against time with the gorgeous Grand Canyon as the backdrop. James Franco does a stellar performance in portraying US mountaineer/ canyoneer Aron Ralston, who ventured out into Utah’s canyon lands and got his arm trapped in a fallen boulder in a strait-like crevasse for 5 days and 7 hours – in total isolation, with only his video cam, limited granola bars and his own pee to drink (and you thought only Juan Marquez did that) for survival. As gut-wrenching as the ending may be, the film incorporates masterful film making, stunning scenery and that impeccable Sigur Ros coda playing triumphantly toward the end. Two thing it teaches you: 1) Don’t walk out your door without telling a soul where you’re going 2) When all else fails, amputate. Kiddin’ on that last bit.
6. Motorcycle Diaries
This 2004 film adaptation of iconic revolutionary Che Guevara and travel buddy/ biochemist Alberto Granado’s travel diaries documents their 8,000-kilometer journey from their native Argentina onward to the highest point in Venezuela by foot, truck and a beat motorcycle that ‘pisses oil’. Initially embarked to see the world, the journey unfolds to be a trip that will unveil the ill effects of consumerism on South America and lay the groundwork for Guevara’s intrinsic role in the South American political revolution. On one hand, the Machu Picchu scene will leave your heart racing. It alone is reason enough to watch- aside from Gael Garcia Bernal. That Mexican’s hot.
7. Truman Show
A drama that tackles venturing into the fear of the unknown (specifically traveling in open water), The Truman Show showcases the life of Truman, a commoner who unbeknownst to him has been “legally adopted by a network” since birth. Truman’s dreams of Fiji and his quest for self-discovery and his one true love despite the many roadblocks compel him to sail over the ocean albeit terrified and unravels some surprising truths at the end. And a door that leaves great promise to the real world.
8. Away We Go
For a significant number of viewers, Away We Go is an acquired taste. Some find it uneventfully boring; some, warm and sweet. I’m one of those sappy ones who go for the latter. At the core, it is a simple and heartwarming story about a young pregnant couple who embark on a US state hopping journey in hopes of finding that one home to start their family in. There’s the occasional humorous takes on pregnancy: dry spells, the uber strict (and flight-delaying) antics of airline staff and women getting all hormonal. Stay for the ending ’cause it can be the one great climax you’re looking for. Spectacular scenery there, promise.
I may be the odd one here, but beyond being a story of lone survival, Castaway to me is an amazing portrayal of how life plays out in foreign territory and can yield a fair perspective of solo adventures – at least in terms of worst case scenarios. Enigmatic beach scenes and an inspiring ending that tells you, when one road closes, a promising alternate path is in store.
10. Only You
Only You is the usual slapstick love story with a happy ending and story-wise, it’s not as notable or influential as say, Meet Joe Black. But what it lacks in writing ingenuity, it makes up for with jaw-dropping scenery. The film shows the romantic land and seascapes of Italy as engaged Faith (Marisa Tomei) traipse around Rome with her bestfriend in search of her soulmate, who goes by the name Damon Bradley (and who happens NOT to be her fiance). Beautiful Italian pensiones, romantic yachts parked in the glowing Italian bay, the La Bocca della Verita, al fresco cafes and piazzas, the winding coastal Roman roads, and the charming Italian countryside are all good enough reasons to watch – if you hate banal love stories at least.
Upgrade your movie experience with the best guide to outdoor entertainment.