Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) – Italy
This is a story about a literature teacher who is finding it increasingly difficult to find inspiration for her writing. Her life takes a turn when her husband deserts her. She decides to head off for Tuscany and a new life begins for her when she gets off the bus and buys an abandoned house that catches her eye. If you are interested in Italy, then this is the perfect movie for you. The shots of the Amalfi Coast are absolutely terrific and Positano is very authentically depicted.
The Secret life of Walter Mitty (2013) – Iceland, Greenland
How far are you ready to go for the perfect shot? Ben Stiller chases Sean Penn in order to find something “incredible” for the final print issue of Life magazine. This movie features some incredible scenes of Iceland and Greenland and has an affair of the heart which serves as a back-story, although it is primarily packed with adventure.
Eat, Pray, Love (2010) – Rome, India, Bali
I don’t believe there’s anyone who hasn’t contemplated embarking on a unique yoga experience in Bali after watching this movie. The action is set in a small town called Ubud. The shots of all three locations are absolutely stunning. In a nutshell, Julia Roberts sets off on a trip around the world after her divorce in order to get to terms with her inner self.
The Darjeeling Limited (2007) – India
This is basically a story about three wacky brothers who travel across India. After their father’s death, they try to reconnect and get to know each other better, but their overriding aim is to get to their mother who has spent more than a decade meditating in a temple. A truly authentic portrayal of India and its rail transport. Indian culture is also beautifully portrayed in this movie.
Lost in translation (2003) – Japan
This film highlights the importance of language and the divergence between cultures. Bill Murray, a failed actor, and Scarlett Johansson, a girl who’s trying to find herself, attempt to fit into the Japanese lifestyle. I don’t believe there’s anyone who doesn’t think of this movie whenever he faces language barriers on his travels.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) – Spain
This is a story about two friends who gradually fall in love with the same man – a painter. Of course, there’s also the emotionally unstable ex-wife played by Penelope Cruz. The story is set in Barcelona and Oviedo. Admittedly though, the wife isn’t just slightly unstable, she’s as mad as a hatter. This makes this film even better.
One week (2008) – Canada
This is a biker story about a man who embarks on an adventure after he finds out that he hasn’t got much time left. He takes shots of places that he passes through, meets different people and drives around Canada on his bike. He’s very callous and hard-hearted towards his fiancée, but who the hell cares! The man’s got cancer.
Everest (2015) – Nepal
This movie is based on the real events of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster. A large number of climbers succeed in making it to the top, but get caught in a blizzard in an attempt to descend from the summit. Most of the expedition dies. Apart from the amazing script and editing, the film features some phenomenal shots of Nepal and the Himalayas.
Into the Wild (2007) – Alaska
This is a story about surviving in the wilderness of the United States. It’s based on a true story about a chap who donates everything to charity and sets out to Alaska on foot. Four months later, he is found dead.
Although the ending is sad, we really cheered for him to reach his final destination. A great role, indeed!
Before Sunrise (1995) – Vienna
A young man and a young woman meet on a train and get off in Vienna where they decide to stay. The film has a sequel called Before Midnight.
The cast is the same, only this time the action is set in Greece and the protagonists are no longer a couple.
A true soppy romance!
The Way (2010) – France, Spain
A father carries the ashes of his deceased son on a hundred-kilometre-long route known as “El camino the Santiago”. A group of four people meet together – a potbellied Dutchman, a drunken Irishman, a pissed-off Canadian girl and Martin Sheen who carries his son’s ashes with him all the way.
Sounds more like the setup of a joke… A story about walking, camping, backpacking, but mostly about friendships made during this strenuous pilgrimage.
Tracks (2013) – Australia
This is a story about a girl who travels across the Australian deserts and steppes with her dog and four camels.
If we could pick the people we meet on our travels, this girl would definitely be our choice.
This is not just any script.
It’s based on real events.
Up in the air (2009) – The USA
A story about a man who works as a corporate downsizing expert (there is even such a job position in the United States) and spends more time at the airport and on the plane than anywhere else. But it’s also a touching story because he earns frequent flyer miles which he intends to give to his sister who’s never travelled anywhere. We’ve watched this film a couple of times and we are always appalled when we see what ludicrous occupations exist in the USA.
The Beach (2000) – Thailand
This is undoubtedly the best film about Indochina and its miraculous beaches. The story is set on a desert island where weed is grown. A small group of foreigners live on this island far away from the civilization according to their own set of rules and system of values. Shit gets real when a shark literally devours half of a person’s body. Basically, they lose half of their friend. The other half doesn’t make it.
In Bruges (2008) – Belgium
This is a story about a killer who hides in Bruges pretending to be a tourist. When he accidentally kills a child the boss himself arrives in the city to wipe him out. We think they paid through the nose to get the movie filmed in Bruges because the city itself is picture-perfect.
Anyway, it’s good publicity for the city.
The way back (2010) – Siberia, China
This is not a typical travel movie. The journey is actually an inevitable result of the escape from a labor camp – the escape from communism. The reason it’s on this list is because the shots of Siberia, Lake Baikal, Chinese deserts and mountain ranges are simply breath-taking! These champs cross more than 3000 miles while they’re on the run. Their initial plan is to go to China, but when they see communist flags fluttering in the distance, they make their way through the Himalayas till they reach India.
Seven years in Tibet (1997) – Tibet
This is a story about an Austrian mountaineer who becomes friends with the Dalai Lama. Heinrich is a hard man. To put it bluntly, he’s a pain in the ass. World War II breaks out during one of his ascents. Everyone is arrested and taken to the camp. After a couple of failed attempts, Heinrich finally manages to escape and makes his way towards Lhasa. This is a perfect movie for getting acquainted with Tibet and the territorial dispute with China.
Midnight in Paris (2011) – Paris
An artistic story about a screenwriter and the golden age of Paris when Ernest Hemingway and Salvador Dali used to live and create works of art in this city. Owen Wilson, a fan of art and Paris itself, frequently gets lost in this city while his girlfriend – who’s a bitchy hellcat by the way – never stops moaning and groaning and constantly nags him about the way he goes through his life.
The list of the best outside of hollywood movies is even better, but unfortunately much shorter!
Diarios de motocicleta (2004) – South America
Cinema of Argentina
When he was young, Che was fond of motorcycles. This movie is an adaptation of the journal he used to keep on his road trips. A fabulous movie! It’s also a story about how Che Guevara reveals his true call i.e. his aim in life and the purpose of that aim is that a revolution has to be started. And Che will lead it.
Qué tan lejos (2006) – Ecuador
Cinema of Ecuador
Esperanza and Tristeza. This isn’t a Spanish soap opera, but a story about two girls who are doing their best to get to the city of Cuenca in Ecuador. They go through a lot of troubles which start when their bus gets delayed. However, they don’t stray from their course no matter what. They don’t give up and they meet a lot of interesting characters throughout their journey.
L’auberge espagnole (2002) – Spain
Cinema of France
The action is set in Barcelona and revolves around 6 students from different countries. Italian, Belgian, Danish, German and French cultures are intertwined in a single apartment. This is an interesting movie which focuses primarily on the themes of love and friendship.
The Loneliest Planet (2011) – Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan
Cinema of Germany
A couple is on a backpacking trip in the Caucasus Mountains between the Caspian and the Black seas. A single mistake and chaos ensues between the two of them. This movie will take you to some rare parts of Russia, Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. The beauty of mountain ranges is excellently portrayed. I don’t know if any of you are into backpacking trips, but this is a region that’s absolutely worth a visit for those of you who relish such a thing.
Lawrence of Arabia (1962) – The Middle East
Cinema of the United Kingdom
If there’s anyone who hasn’t heard of this movie, he should see it straightaway. It’s about the fight between the Arabs and the Turks. The action is set in Wadi Rum (aka The Valley of the Moon) in Jordan and the surrounding countries. An English officer – probably himself unaware of how he ends up in the Middle East – takes things into his own hands and resolves the matter in the style of a true-born Englishman.
La fille sur le pon (1999) – Europe
Cinema of France
A young lady’s standing on a Paris bridge with tears welling up in her eyes. A man approaches her and a few minutes later love is born. It’s not exactly love at first sight, but it grows throughout their journeys across France, Italy and Turkey because, being artists, they travel to different places to find work. He’s a knife thrower and she is, so to say, a target he has to miss.
The Sound of Music (1965) – Salzburg
Cinema of the United Kingdom
This musical is the reason why 70% of Americans decided to see Salzburg in 1970s and 1980s. The storyline is very interesting. Maria has totally fucked up in her attempt to become a nun. By a strange coincidence, she becomes a governess. The children don’t actually take to her, which is no good if you’re a governess, but gradually she manages to find a way to their hearts. The movie is strongly reminiscent of Mary Poppins.
Alexis Zorbas (1964) – Crete
Cinema of Greece
Anthony Queen played a terrific role and is probably the jolliest man ever to be seen on the big screen. Zorba is someone who does everything the Mediterranean way. He drinks, eats, dances and sings and he likes women. After seeing this film, you’ll get a clearer idea about the origin of the crisis in Europe. The North toils, the South enjoys.
If you think there are travel movies we have missed to include on our list, please add in your comments those that got you going and inspired you to visit a particular place.