There is rarely a time that I don’t feel the desire to travel, so I don’t exactly need to catch the ‘bug’ to get myself moving. Despite this, any time I am planning a trip or about to go one, I will pop in a movie that has some kind of travel or vacation theme to start getting me into the mood. Somehow I find that this little ritual manages to start me off on the right foot, and I save my favorites for the day before I take off on any holiday.
While I could name a good fifty films that fit into the genre, these are my ten favorites to get me into the globetrotting mindset.
The innocent and childlike Amelie has always been overly protected by a father who believes she has a heart defect and so cannot live a normal life. As an adult, she has had very little interaction with the real world. When she finds a collection of old toys belonging to the former resident of her new home, she decides to return them to him. This sparks a journey of self discovery and love, running parallel to the fantasy world in which she has always lived. This is a gorgeous, fun and heart warming film that will touch even the most jaded and hard-hearted traveler.
Looking for something family friendly? This Pixar film was one of the best ever made by the studio (and they have quite the list of impressive films). It follows a bitter old man who made a promise to his wife that one day they would go on an adventure. She passes without ever having the dream fulfilled, and so one day he fills hundreds of balloons and begins to float his house to South America. Little does he know that a boyscout has tagged along for the ride. If you don’t cry in the first ten minutes of this film, you have no soul.
3. The Beach
You will often see travelers in Asia reading old dog-eared copies of the novel this film was adapted from. But the movie itself is actually really good, and I have always felt it was one of the more underrated Leo Dicaprio vehicles from his earlier career. It will be sure to mirror the thirst for adventure and paradise that lives within us all, and make you question what you are willing to face to find it. Not to mention the question of what happens when it wasn’t at all what you expected?
This film is usually credited as being for the wine-lover crowd. It certainly sparked a renewed interest in wine tasting when it was released in 2004. But I have always felt it is a much better movie for the travel lover, and a great buddy film with a sophisticated edge. It follows two middle-aged men who take a road trip together through California’s wine country, prior to one of the pair’s wedding.
One of the best travel movies of all time, this film explores discontent within two lonely characters, one in her 20’s, one middle aged. The backdrop of Tokyo is stunning, as is the performance by Scarlett Johannson and Bill Murray. It is incredibly understated, and is more about an impossible relationship developing between the central characters who just need someone – anyone – in a time when they are both plagued by uncertainty.
With some of the most gorgeous scenery you could ask for, Seven Years In Tibet tells the story of mountain climber Heinrich Harrer and Peter Aufschnaiter, two escaped POW’s during WWII the manage to run to Tibet. That is a very lazy summary, but I would encourage you to watch it yourself if you haven’t already to see the in-depth character development and storyline it is known for. Take in mind that it is based on an autobiography.
Part of a wave of movies aimed at older audiences, this was a particularly charming piece by John Madden. It is about a group of British retirees (played by Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith, Judy Dench and Bill Nighy) who arrive in India to stay in a hotel they believe has been newly renovated to offer a glamorous spot for pensioners. When they get there, it isn’t all that it had seemed in the ad. But the group quickly adapts and find happiness in the unexpected. If you want a bright and beautiful movie set in India, you will love this one.
Alright, I know this isn’t really a ‘travel movie’, but I stand behind my decision to include it in the list. After all, they do go to a cabin. In the woods. Which is somewhere other than the city they live. Hey, it counts! Plus, I dare you to watch this and not feel like going with some friends on a trip of some description. Even with the subject matter, which is less than relaxing.
9. LOTR Trilogy
Most lists include Fellowship of the Ring, but leave out the other films. I think that all three deserve to have a spot, as they are all very much about a journey in both the literal and metaphorical sense. I have never been so stunned by the gorgeous scenery of a film before these ones, both the natural landscape of New Zealand and the models used for the towering structures. These films are classics, and the perfect movies to watch to get you in the mood to set out on your own adventure. Unlike The Hobbit, a film that I won’t start ranting about or we will be here all day.
Ingmar Bergman is well known for his dramatic and oppressive feelings created in his movies. None are so claustrophobic and poignant as his amazing Persona, the story of an actress and a nurse taking refuge in a cabin on an ocean shore. The surreal elements of the movie are made more intense by the location where it was shot, and the stark silence that makes up so much of the film.
What are your favorite travel films? Let us know in the comments.
Jessy is the excited blogger and professional writer who loves traveling. One of the distant cities on her TO-DO list is Odessa and she is planning to go there this summer!