Movies have the power to inspire us to try new things, visit new places and have new experiences. Here are 10 that really capture the spirit of travel, featuring destinations from Tokyo to New York City. Watching these may very well make you want to pack your bags and look for an adventure.
Manhattan’s knockout of an opening sequence makes it hard not to fall in love with Woody Allen’s New York, introduced through black-and-white, 2-second cross sections cut to a thundering Gershwin score. Watching Manhattan is like having a local show you around their favourite city, visiting the iconic Met and Riverside Terrace to the more intimate John’s Pizzeria on 44th street.
In Audrey Hepburn’s Oscar-winning debut, she plays a young European princess who ditches her royal duties for a spontaneous holiday in Rome. She speeds around town on a Vespa, smokes her first cigarette in a café and dances on a boat down the Tiber River. However, the most inspirational part of the movie is watching her flee her mundane life in pursuit of something exotic and exciting, the spirit many of us adopt when we travel.
The Darjeeling Limited
Wes Anderson is known for meticulously crafting every shot to create lasting visual impressions, which is why he’s the perfect man to make a movie about India. The country’s dazzling colour palette, lavish decorations and exotic locations are all brought to full force with Anderson’s screen-popping style in this story about three brothers embarking on a spiritual journey.
Main character, Ray (played by a jittery Colin Farrell), ridicules Bruges for being an obscure, boring, nothing of a town that no one should ever visit. See the movie however, (or better yet, actually go to Bruges) and you can’t help but disagree with Ray. You will see the beautiful canals, cobblestone streets and the magnificent Belfry of Bruges in Market Square where the movie comes to an exhilarating conclusion.
Lost in Translation
The neon lights and sleepless buzz of Tokyo is the setting for the unlikely relationship that forms between a declining Hollywood actor and the young wife of an American ex-pat. Key scenes occur at night in chic, luxury hotels, karaoke bars and ultra-hip nightclubs – all a staple diet for Tokyo’s popular nightlife. Lost in Translation also reminds us that the best holidays are often filled with strange encounters and unlikely, but worthwhile, relationships.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Brazenly romantic and passionately untamed, this is the brochure Barcelona that travellers want to see. Two American tourists are pulled into a complex love triangle with the quintessential Spanish man (who else could that be but Javier Bardem?). Their story is coloured with the things we love about Spain: art, poetry, Spanish guitar, beautiful countryside homes, bicycle rides and, of course, Penelope Cruz (who took home an Oscar for her performance in this movie).
A young Che Guevara drops everything and hits the road on a motorcycle to see the real South America. He chases girls in Latin American bars and walks the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, but it was the oppressed farmers in Lima and the leper colony in Peru that persuaded him to lead the revolution, reminding us that travel also has the power to inspire great things.
Paris Je T’aime
22 talented directors are invited to make a short film each, all united by the same character: the city of Paris. Each film claims a Parisian district; Tom Tykwer’s dizzying breakup tale storms through Saint-Denis, Alexander Payne uses Montparnasse to tell the sad story of a loner American tourist and Tuileries is the backdrop for a comedy from the Cohen brothers.
Best man Miles (Paul Giamatti) sends off the groom to be (Thomas Hayden Church) in style. The pair take a trip through leafy, sun-speckled California wine country where Miles is in his element, in contrast to his disaster of a life back home. Locals embrace him and he speaks the wine language fluently, (‘there’s just the faintest soupçon of asparagus and just a flutter of a nutty Edam cheese’) reminding us of that home away from home.
Location scouts for 007 movies would be bona fide luxury holidays. By the end of 2006’s Casino Royale, Bond would have hit three continents, chasing a terrorist in Madagascar, seducing a beautiful woman in the Bahamas, playing a high-stakes poker game in Montenegro and finishing with a bang in Venice.