Life has been a little stationary of late (read into that as you will). In between my bouts of itchy feet and jealous rage at everyone else’s happy snaps, I recharge my restless soul by pursuing my other (slightly more sedentary) passion: lapping up more of those happy snaps on the big screen.
For those of you that favour a lounge couch to the straightjacket-like devices otherwise known as an aircraft seat, being a vicarious vagabond is probably not half bad. That is, as long as you know what to watch and whom to follow. I have dug deep into recent memory to bring you my Top 8 travel flicks, especially curated to unleash the wanderer in you.
8. Lost in Translation (2003)
Have you ever found yourself at the crossroads, feeling nothing short of downtrodden, lost and alienated? Don’t sweat; I may have just the destination for you! The glitzy heart of Tokyo, Japan provides the perfect backdrop for a budding romance between two lost souls, as they bond over shared disillusions whilst parading the city’s funky night circuit. While the Japanese have criticised the film for its one-dimensional (and at times, vacuous) representation of its bustling gateway city, Lost in Translation has won a slew of awards and is a visual and sensory metaphor for one of life’s vulnerable moments.
Director: Sofia Coppola
Starring: Bill Murray as Bob; Scarlett Johansson as Charlotte
7. Everest (2015)
Loosely based on Jon Krakauer’s exposé Into Thin Air, the fateful expedition in Everest had me gripping my seat in jaw-dropping wonder. Confronting in its cinematography, the film is not one for the faint-hearted as it explores the thrills and perils of lives lived on the edge. (Click here for my in-depth review.)
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Starring: Jason Clarke as Rob Hall; Jake Gyllenhaal as Scott Fischer
6. Wild (2014)
As an unseasoned female traveller, this film based on one woman’s journey for redemption has struck many chords in me. Recently divorced and grief-stricken from a family tragedy, Cheryl Strayed’s 1,100-mile hike across America’s Pacific Crest Trial is a story of self-discovery, acceptance and ultimately, regeneration.
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Starring: Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl Strayed
5. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
Ben Stiller’s longboarding escapade along picturesque Icelandic highways just about tickled every adventurous fibre of my soul. As a professional daydreamer, this film fulfilled all of my fantasies (and then some). It might have been a surprise hit, but who wouldn’t fall for a fearless Stiller (as the quixotic Walter Mitty), drop-dead gorgeous Icelandic scenery and a plot line with as many twists and turns as the winding roads travelled?
Director: Ben Stiller
Starring: Ben Stiller as Walter Mitty
4. Eat Pray Love (2010)
Based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling personal memoir of the same name, Julia Roberts renders her most memorable performance yet since Erin Brockovich in a film that oozes feminine charm. Casting aside a life of comfort back home, our protagonist embarks on a quest for culinary delights in Italy (eat), spiritual peace in India (pray) and ultimately, serendipity in Bali, Indonesia (love). Any banality in the screenplay can be forgiven by magical cinematography, which was worth its weight in box office gold.
Director: Ryan Murphy
Starring: Julia Roberts as Elizabeth Gilbert
3. Into the Wild (2007)
A staple of any noteworthy lists on travel filmography, Into the Wild (adapted from another one of Jon Krakauer’s bestsellers) sparked a renaissance in Alaskan tourism. The tale of cultured college graduate Chris McCandless has polarised audiences since his demise in 1992, as he set out to conquer the Alaskan wilderness with nothing more than youthful vigour. Regardless of your moral persuasions, there would be no disputing the film’s sweeping grandeur in juxtaposing the frailties of human life.
Director: Sean Penn
Starring: Emile Hirsch as Chris McCandless
2. The Fault in Our Stars (2014)
A story of two terminally ill young lovers is always destined for blockbuster glory, especially as its setting transitions to one of Europe’s most romantic and photogenic cities. Never one to disappoint, Amsterdam upped the ante with its postcard-perfect canals and historic treasures. Accustomed as they were to film crews and flashing lights, the Amsterdammers nonetheless appeared star-struck, with reports that the actual bench used in the film has since been stolen!
Director: Josh Boone
Starring: Ansel Elgort as Augustus; Shailene Woodley as Hazel Grace
1. The Before Trilogy (1995, 2004, 2013)
Coming up in top spot is definitely a sentimental favourite of mine, not the least because I wrote about it at length and have never stopped reminiscing about it since. (Incidentally, this post remains one of my most Googled works and one of my proudest.)
The film centres on a kismet moment, and expansion of that moment over a period of 18 years. Perhaps my favourite modern day romance of all time, the Before Trilogy is also no less a travelogue, spanning the initial mystique of Vienna (Before Sunrise), the sensuality of Paris (Before Sunset) and the intensity of the Greek Islands (Before Midnight).
Director: Richard Linklater
Starring: Ethan Hawke as Jesse; Julie Delpy as Celine
No credit for images used.