There will be so many travel-related films missing from this list. I haven’t seen Into the Wild (2007) or The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) and I’m sure there are many other films. Films that paint such an amazing picture of a place that you can’t help but start planning your next trip. The eight English language films on this list are films I simply cannot watch without getting itchy feet.
Forrest Gump (1994)
Forrest Gump is one of my all time favourite movies and it’s also a fantastic travel film. For someone living in the UK, the USA for me is two trips to Disney World and a summer spent in the Pennsylvania mountains with a quick trip to New York. The USA, in my mind, is largely every single American movie I have ever seen. And Forrest Gump immortalises the beautiful South, Washington DC, and a vast, never ending American landscape on film far better than most.
It achieves this by spanning four decades from the 50s to the 80s; probably the idealistic decades we all wished we would have seen America. American diners, the hippie movement, Elvis rockin’ on the radio… but it was also a time of segregation and violence. Leaving the setting aside, Forrest Gump is also about dreams, and to JUST DO IT. Just start running and see where you end up, because really, do we ever know exactly where we’re going?
Lost in Translation (2003)
I actually had this film on my shelf for a while without actually watching it, but when I thought about doing a travel post based around films, I knew it was time. The film doesn’t so much display a city (in this case, Tokyo in Japan) or place as an ideal holiday location as much as it realises the issues and anxieties that isolation of living in a different culture.
It has to be admitted that though travelling is one of the most eye-opening, amazing and contenting things I can think of doing, it isn’t for everyone. As they say, home is where the heart is. Japan is absolutely one of my top places to visit and I hope to one day get the opportunity to explore it fully. Suffice to say this film definitely does not discourage visiting cultures different than your own, but rather makes the whole experience feel real. I’ve written a close scene analysis about Lost in Translation which you can catch up on.
In Bruges (2008)
Aside from the British Isles, most of the cities in western Europe, for me, are actually quite similar. Spain, France, Italy, Germany all have similarities in feel and architecture. But before you gasp in shock at this sweeping statement, I mean this in a good way. And of course there are differences. They have differences in influence, in sensibility, and of course in culture.
I first watched In Bruges during my A Level Film class and it’s an amazing film, and it epitomised a beautiful European city. It’s so funny and dark at the same time, but probably without being aware of it, it makes me want to go to Bruges. I’ve never been to Belgium but I do really want to go after watching this film. Those cities that have rivers and Canals always seem more beautiful.
Note from August 2016: I did go to Bruges?! Proves watching films is good for you! You can read about the fairytale I had in Bruges right here, because it really was a fairytale.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
Before I went to Barcelona last summer, I could not stop watching this film. Firstly, because it’s a great film. But secondly, because that’s what films do. They get you excited about an ideal and hopefully the reality lives up to expectations. Unfortunately for me, I was ill for half the time I was in Barcelona, which was completely gutting and I felt really guilty about it at the time.
I also don’t believe I really explored Barcelona. Yes, I went to all the major touristy sights, but I don’t feel like I really went to Barcelona until the very last night. I want to lay on the beach for a while, climb Mount Tibidabo and drink lots of Spanish wine. I have vowed to go back to Barcelona and this is exactly what I will do. This is something I want to take with me to every place I visit in the future. There is plenty in carefully planning your trip so you don’t miss anything, but if all your left with is feeling tired, run down or ill, then it’s not worth it. I’ve written Vicky Cristina Barcelona it’s own review and also on films that will make you want to travel to Spain that I strongly advise you to read…
Eat Pray Love (2010)
I read the original book written by Elizabeth Gilbert in America in 2012, and it is genuinely an amazing book. It’s really inspiring, especially for the keen traveller and for people who aren’t quite sure who they are or what they want. This film received mixed reviews when it was released, and I can totally see why, but that doesn’t mean the film it doesn’t make me want to go to Italy, India and Indonesia IMMEDIATELY.
It is a holiday movie. We’re essentially watching one American woman and her time as a tourist throughout all of these countries and her self-discovery. It paints an ideal, and a beautiful one at that, that someday we can all take a trip by ourselves and really learn about who we are. At least I hope to do that someday. The countries are just so beautiful and because of this film, Bali features on my top places I want to visit as soon as possible, which you can read about here.
Midnight in Paris (2011)
If there’s anyone that knows how to make a film about a city and present it in a beautiful, touristy but not too idealistic way, it’s Woody Allen. Midnight in Paris gives us the city in the 21st century, but also the city in its 1920s “heyday.” But it’s beautiful either way, it’s the same Paris, and I think that’s what I take from the film most. I have been to Paris on a family holiday about 6 years ago, and is also somewhere I hope to go back to, perhaps on a more romantic holiday next time. I mean, that’s what Paris is there for, right? I’ve written Midnight in Paris’ own review you can check out too.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
It’s no surprise that when this film was released late last year that people were calling it the new Forrest Gump. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty sports an amazing soundtrack and fantastic sweeping shots of the Greenland, Icelandic and Nepalese landscapes that, as every western film set in another country does, makes you want to go there. A lot.
And this feeling has stayed with me. Just as Forrest Gump spurred an entire obsession with the states, Walter Mitty has made me want to go backpacking and go to countries I didn’t even realise I wanted to go to. The film also allows you to actually imagine yourself doing so, just as Forrest Gump does. Iceland is also on future places I want to visit the most list.
The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit film series (2001-2014)
Last, but most certainly not least. It’s a phenomenon that people are calling “The Hobbit Effect.” The New Zealand landscapes are just as much the star of the films as the hobbits and elves are. Travel companies are advertising the land of the hobbits as a place you can actually go to, and technically you can. However, just so long as you remember that you can go to the landscapes, but it’s not actually Middle Earth. Just so you know… As part of my In-Flight Movies series, I’ve written about films that will inspire you to visit New Zealand.
What films out there make you want to travel? Any foreign films out there that paint its own landscape perfectly?
Writing about wanderlust inspiring films is essentially my life’s work, so I’ve covered the subject several times, including the links I’ve included above.
If you want specific wanderlust inspiring films for different countries, I cover that too! Here are the ones I’ve done so far…