Location, Location, Location: Inspirational Travel Movies by Continent
Your DVD shelf is packed with good movies shot in all kinds of exotic locales. But how many have motivated you to get out and see them for yourself? With no claims of superiority or comprehensiveness by any stretch, here are some of my favorite stories which ignite a flame for travel under my cush tush.
What are some of yours?
Sparked by the loss of his only son, an unlikely pilgrim walks “The Way of St. James” across Northern Spain in search of something. Set against the backdrop of the infamous Camino de Santiago, this story of grief, hope, and friendship will have you packing your bags for Spain, tricking you into thinking walking a really long way is a really good idea.
Starring: Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez, and James Nesbitt
For those who dream of Paris, Amelie will whisk you away. This delightful tale is of a good-natured woman who decides to spend her life helping others experience happiness. Filled with the eccentricity needed to bring us all closer to our quirky humanity, the sights, sounds, and characters of Amelie will have this one at the top of your foreign-film favorites.
Starring: Audrey Tautou and Mathieu Kassovitz
The Power of One
If you don’t know much about the horrors of Apartheid, The Power of One will enlighten you as you go on a journey through utter despair and enduring hope as it follows the life of a young English boy, PK, who learns to fight the evil around him, “first with the head, then with the heart.” Breaking all social norms, PK stands up for those without a voice, seeking to unite races which are divided by mistrust and hate, and discovers what in life is truly worth fighting for. This raw portrait of Africa’s people and wild beauty will inspire and enchant.
Starring: Stephen Dorff, John Gielgud, and Morgan Freeman
Based on a true story, two man-eating lions halt the construction of a railway in 1896 East Africa, igniting fear in the hearts of the locals. The lions of Tsavo, possessed by mysterious and supernatural forces, prompt a coming together in order to put an end to their bloodshed. Now on display in Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History, the man-eaters have left a history of speculation, myth, and legend in their wake.
Starring: Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas
No doubt the finest piece of cinematic fiction to ever grace the Outback of Australia, Mick Dundee will not only have you laughing at cultural differences, but will make you wish you had grown up in the wild, wrestling crocodiles and chumming with Aboriginals. At the very least, you’ll be super jealous of his knife. Go see the first installation for some great one-liners and character set-up, then get set to watch our hero take down drug lords – Aussie style. You’ll be right glad you did, mate.
Starring: Paul Hogan, Linda Kozlowski, and John Meillon
In recognizable Baz Luhrman fashion, the cattle station Faraway Downs is in trouble of going down under and only a beautiful Sheila, a handsome bloke, and a cheeky aboriginal kid dare to fight for the life they know. As the World War rages on, Australia is changed forever and families will either unify or forever be torn apart. A modern look at another idealistic location hidden in the sticks of Australia bushland, both you and your girlfriend will appreciate this choice for a date night.
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, and David Wenham
Near the top of any travel movie list worth its snuff, The Motorcycle Diaries is an epic roadtrip adventure following a young , pre-revolutionist, Che Guevara and his friend Alberto across the vast expanses of an exotic South America. Enjoying all the bounties and hardships of travel, including mechanical breakdowns, wooing women, volunteering with the poor, and ultimately becoming transformed into different people, this journey alongside our idealistic heroes does its job well: it challenges us to travel with open hearts and minds.
Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal and Rodrigo de la Serna
This film of betrayal, loss, redemption, and hope shines a light in the darkness of 18th century South America. With stunning cinematography and a plethora of Academy Award nominations, The Mission catches humans between two evils and begs us to question if the world dictates how we live or if our choices make the world what it is.
Starring: Robert De Niro, Jeremy Irons, and Liam Neeson
A humorous story of unlikely friendship and human connection, Lost in Translation deals with the complexities of differing cultures and the accompanying emotions in a most understated way. When you feel like you’re alone surrounded by millions, find some solidarity in a story such as this and be inspired to open your eyes to whatever possibilities destiny puts in your path.
Starring: Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson
The Darjeeling Limited
As three estranged brothers take a train across India after their father’s death, the journey takes them deep into the lives of each other and those around them. Those we work hard to keep out may be the very ones sent to free us from our prisons. Letting go may be the hardest thing, but it leaves us with open hands to receive what comes next.
Starring: Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman
This historical epic set in 1750’s America during the French and Indian War invites us into a time of pre-United States history, where the land was settled by indigenous tribes of Native Americans and entering into a transition of major change due to the arrival of Europeans. Naturally, as multiple cultures collide, sides are taken and many lives are lost. Last of the Mohicans helps bring us into a specific story amidst the larger one, evoking timeless melodies of courage, loss, sacrifice, and love. Homage to a more natural time of the now heavily industrialized country, Mohicans is sure to evoke a sense of mystic loss.
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, and Wes Studi
Into The Wild
Based on the life of Christopher McCandless, the film wrestles with the familiar disillusionment of the “American Dream” and expectations of everyone else which don’t quite fit right. A bold step into a future many dream about but few commit to, this film follows a wandering soul on his journey of happiness, independence, sorrow, and community in search of life’s true meaning and joys. Plus, Eddie Vedder rocks the soundtrack.
Starring: Emile Hirsch, William Hurt, and Hal Holbrook
Not one to spurn our scarcely visited continent down south, there’s no question of its importance for our earth. While it may not be top of your list to visit, let Happy Feet remind you through lovable, singing and dancing penguins, that there is life present at the bottom of the world and it is worth our consideration. If you do decide to add Antarctica to your list – and it is possible – you’ll have Happy Feet songs stuck in your head to keep you company in that frozen emptiness. Not to mention all the free slurpees you can manage.
Starring: Elijah Wood, Hugh Jackman, Robin Williams, and Brittany Murphy
Sufficiently inspired yet? Good. Set the popcorn down because now is the time to write your own story and tell it to the world.
The best part? It’s real life. 3D glasses not even needed.