Travel movies cover a big chunk of the entertainment industry, but there aren’t too many that truly make you want to pack your bags and escape. In case you are in the mood to be whisked away into the world of all things travel; here is a list of 9 must watch travel movies handpicked for your immediate consumption. Enjoy, and happy travels!
Darjeeling Limited – An emotional tale of three brothers reuniting after years to take a trip to India, this movie is a must watch for reasons beyond travel (making it one of the best travel movies out there!). Not only does the movie encapsulate India in all its chaos and glory, it also takes the viewer on a ride that is both visual and spiritual. Wes Anderson‘s bright and bold direction allows for a complete immersion into the journey that the brothers undertake.
Replete with stunning scenes capturing the heart of the Indian way of life, Anderson permits the scenery to speak in itself. From the train to the busy streets to the barren, dust-covered plains – this is a movie like no other. It captures the diversity of the country without taking away from the original story. You must watch this one if you are on a watch spree of travel movies.
Lost in Translation
Lost in Translation – If Japan was not on your travel bucket list, then this movie is bound to change that. A moving story about an aging actor and a twenty-something woman meeting in a foreign place, Lost in Translation captures the beauty of finding a like soul in a world full of people speaking in another tongue. Amongst the many travel movies that have ever been made this one emphasizes not on the sexual or the vibrant, but the fluidity and connection between not just the two characters but also the city.
Filled with neon signs and crowded streets and lanky buildings, Tokyo feels like something out of a dystopic world. And somehow we see our protagonists experiencing the same. The city blends and fades into their life, and the well-crafted direction makes for a brilliant treat. Sofia Coppola almost personifies the city as the wingman to bring them closer together, making it an unmissable flick.
Samsara- Although this production is termed as a non-verbal guided meditation, I am inclined to add this to the list simply because of Ron Fricke’s breath-taking visuals. It was filmed in a span of five long years and over 100 different locations in more than 20 countries; an expansive list of which can be found on the internet. This is a film that will forever change the perspective from which you view nature and culture. Displayed in a form most colourful and vibrant, Samsara offers visuals starting from the Epupa Falls in Angola; Thiksey Monastery in India; Burj Khalifa Tower in the United Arab Emirates to the Yellowstone National Park in the USA – and beyond.
And lest you think it is a composite of only undisturbed nature and complexes, Samsara offers glorious scenes of human culture. The most notable of which is the Dance of the 1000 Hands from China. A complete joyride of scintillating imagery, Samsara is an experience like none other. Your ‘to watch’ list of travel movies should definetely have this one on it!
Wild – Wild is a brave and heartwarming story about a 26-year-old divorcee who treks 1100 miles of the 2650 mile long Pacific Crest Trail in 1995. Based on the memoir ‘Wild’ written by Cheryl Strayed; this movie allows us to experience this young woman’s redeeming journey while also being greeted with the beautiful scenery of the trail itself. Reese Witherspoon plays Strayed and manages to really capture the essence of a determined woman. Throughout the grueling journey, she faces many a difficulty- but giving up is something not on the itinerary for her.
She begins her journey in the Mojave Desert of Southern California and treks onward making her way through Northern California and Oregon; before ending her trip at the Bridge of the Gods (located between Washington and Oregon). And as she makes this journey, we make it along with her – seeing her climb snow-covered peaks and camp in the middle of abandoned deserts and drink water from puddles and so on. A must watch amongst all the travel movies, specifically for every female traveller, to say the least.
Y tu mama tambien
Y tu mama tambien – A sweet coming of age story, y tu mama tambien ( translated to ‘and your mother too’) is about growth and freedom and sexual expression. Two boys fool an older woman into taking a trip with them to a fictional beach they call Boca del Cielo (Heaven’s Mouth). Initially hesitant, she changes her mind after finding out about her unfaithful husband and accompanies them.
They drive through miles and miles of rural Mexico to rediscover the happiness found in freedom. Even though they lied in the first place, while driving through the coastal regions they happen to come across a beach that is really called Boca del Cielo. While our protagonists indulge in new sexual activities and profound conversations, the real scene stealer is the beautiful rolling scenery of Mexico and the wonderful glistening beaches. This is one of those travel movies that is guaranteed to make you want to grab a backpack, call your dearest ones and plan a road trip.
A Good Year
A Good Year – This 2006 British American rom-com is bound to open your eyes toward a leisurely French holiday. Set in the golden southeastern Provence (France), A Good Year is the story of an uptight investment banker who has left a vineyard in his uncle’s will. Upon travelling to the country, he discovers all the beauty that lay in wait for him. This includes the dewy grape vineyards, the pale French architecture and a very blossoming young lady, whom he later falls in love with.
As they begin to court, we also begin to discover the brilliance of old French vineyards. Big mansions amidst lush green orchards, pathways between fallen leaf covered roads, the beautiful wine culture are just some of the things that are to be enjoyed in the movie. Just like the protagonist, this movie makes you want to quit that 9 to 5 and become a winemaker. This is one of our favorites when it comes to travel movies.
Roman Holiday – It is easy to understand why the Library of Congress chose this film for preservation. The story is genuinely beautiful as is the place it is set in. Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck deliver charismatic performances. Hepburn plays a princess tired of stately duties. She runs away from the embassy and happens to chance across Peck. Peck, who manages to convince her to let him show her the city. And this tour lets us viewers into the understated and classical beauty that Rome has. Shots include multiple iconic locations like the Castel Sant’ Angelo, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Venezia, Trinità dei Monti, Colosseum, Via dei Fori Imperiali etc. Even though this travel movie is completely black and white, the grandeur of old Roman architecture mixed with the quaintness of its modernity makes it easily one of the most romantic locations in the world.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. This 2013 travel movie is about the journey of negative assets manager at Life magazine. He is on the quest to uncover an important negative left by renowned photojournalist (played by Sean Connery). Walter Mitty visits many picturesque places. His journey begins amidst the quaint town of Nuuk in northern Greenland. Followed by the stark greenery and breath-taking landscapes of Iceland. Mitty also travels to Yemen and the mountains of the Himalayas. Only Iceland was used for the actual shooting of the film, though he travels all these places. Locations include Höfn, Stykkishólmur, and Vatnajökull National Park (to duplicate The scenery of Central Asia). The movie portrays how beautiful and untouched some areas of the world truly are. It also shows the importance of capturing the small moments in life. Not to forget the important and well-deserved cameo of David Bowie’s song ‘Space Oddity’.
Eat, Pray, Love
Eat, Pray, Love – Also based on a book, Eat Pray Love tells the story of a woman. She is on a journey of self-discovery. Unhappy with the way her life was proceeding, our protagonist takes a break from this disillusionment. She decides to travel to Italy, India, and Indonesia. While in Italy she discovers the pleasure of eating, as she roams around the city with a group of friends; in taking the local cuisine and sampling the culture. She then goes to India and gathers strength from prayer and sacrifice. She ends her journey in Indonesia where she finds inner power, peace and eventually true love. This movie is about how once in a while we must detach ourselves from the hustle-bustle of daily life.
We must to so to quieten our minds and rediscover ourselves via travel. Julia Roberts does an excellent job of playing the part of a novice traveller. The majestic locations of Italy, India, and Indonesia do their job quiet well in making this movie enjoyable.