5. Lost in Translation (2003)
Sofia Coppola’s Academy Award winning drama, the seminal “Lost in Translation” focuses on Bill Murray’s aging film star Bob Harris now past his prime and fading, and how he meets a bored and neglected wife, Charlotte, played by Scarlett Johannsson, leading to the subsequent bond that the pair surprisingly form amongst their short time surrounded by the bright lights of Tokyo, Japan. Its busy, neon-lit city streets look absolutely breath-taking throughout, whilst the food on show is enough to make you crave mountains of sushi.
Now considered a cult classic, “Lost in Translation” impressively captures the sense of estrangement and alienation that is so often found when travelling, a sense of overwhelming isolation at the varying sights and sounds of foreign languages and cultural differences.
It is this feeling of sequestration that is profoundly well-executed in Coppola’s thoughtful, considerate direction and smart script, which makes the bizarre mismatched pair’s eventual and unexpected relationship appear so much more realistic.
You end up feeling attentive snapshots of nostalgia for those irregular yet warming connections you are afforded when far from home. Here, in the form of two lost souls, looking for their place in the world, which might be together.
4. The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
“The Darjeeling Limited” stands as Wes Anderson’s most overlooked and without question most underrated film, as it tells the beguiling account of three very different yet equally unhappy brothers as they petulantly travel across India together via train to visit their mother whilst attempting to bond with each other following the accidental death of their father a year earlier.
What follows is a series of outlandish predicaments that the siblings encounter, involving a venomous snake, a stolen shoe, sexual encounters, a hilltop ritual, an attempted river rescue, a funeral and a man eating tiger.
The distinguishable director Wes Anderson, who has only on a few occasions steered away from using the United States of America as a setting for his irreplaceable films, his most prominent digressions being the pivotal “Grand Budapest Hotel” and “The Darjeeling Limited”, here choosing the rich and vibrant country of India, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful and absorbing countries in the world, full of rich, diverse cultures, exquisite cuisine, and a fascinatingly vast history.
Sending the three siblings through the Rajasthani desert, as well as the cities of Osian, Udaipur and Jodhpur, the sentimental and spiritual journey witnessed in “The Darjeeling Limited” is an explosion of vivid colour and inimitable culture, which are fundamentally tied together by Anderson’s wistful, charming and abstract style.
3. Before Sunrise (1995)
Vienna has been used a substantial amount of times in cinematic history, possibly its most distinguished utilisation was in the British masterpiece “The Third Man” portraying the city in ruins following World War II, other depictions of the city include “Waltz from Vienna”, “Letter From an Unknown Woman”, “Sissi”, “Amadeus” and arguably the best visual representation of the beautifully established Austrian city, 1995’s “Before Sunrise”.
A masterclass in the art of clever and enthralling dialogue, the simplistic but extraordinary “Before Sunrise” follows Jesse, played by Ethan Hawke, an American aimlessly travelling around Europe.
Currently on a train between Budapest in Hungary and Vienna, Jesse encounters Julie Delpy’s French student Celine, the two form an instant connection resulting in the pair spending the day together before Jesse‘s flight the following morning.
What started as an incredibly brave move by director Richard Linklater, turned out to be an effortlessly intelligent, delightfully warm and breathtakingly honest display of human connection and the relationships we form.
With spontaneity and young love at the heart of this impulsive and heartfelt tale, it’s beautiful surrounding of Vienna’s cobbled streets, stunning weather conditions and romantic ambience perfectly enriches the weightiness of the dialogue heavy “Before Sunrise”.
If this film doesn’t fill you with an overwhelming sense of desire to jump on a plane and do something impetuous and unplanned, travelling probably isn’t your kind of escape.
2. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
From its stunning waterfalls and national parks, it’s electric blue waters, snow covered mountain ranges, terrifyingly active volcanoes, unfathomable geysers and mesmeric hot springs, there is no place in the world like Iceland.
Its breathtakingly magical landscapes make it an ideal location to produce naturally rendered cinematic wonder, frequently used to illustrate other worlds, its unique environment has to be witnessed in person to realise how stunning it truly is.
One of the most attractive countries in the world, most notably, Iceland’s real life fire and ice scenery has been frequented to capture North of the Wall in “Game of Thrones”, as well as several science fiction and fantasy films such as “Batman Begins”, “Thor: The Dark World”, “Interstellar”, “Prometheus” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”.
Away from the science fiction and fantasy genres, it was one of the featured locations, along with The Himalayas and Greenland, chosen for the second adaption of James Thurber’s short story “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”.
Following the titular Walter Mitty, an awkward introvert who works at Life magazine, a frequent fantasist and the perfect example of a classic escapist, he daydreams his way through life.
When his job becomes threated due to the decline of sales in the magazine, Walter and his active imagination take off on the adventure of a life time in search of his hero, a photographer names Sean O’Connell.
Within his adventure, he initially travels to the remote island of Greenland, before heading over to Iceland where he meets their captivatingly distinctive locals and sees a magnificent volcanic eruption.
Eventually ending up in Afghanistan, and the Himalayas where tracks down O’Connell. We are all dreamers at heart, and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” is a perfect film for anyone looking for feel-good inspiration to go out and achieve something more out of life.
1. The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
Based on the personally constructed journals of the iconic Marxist guerrilla revolutionary Che Guevara, “The Motorcycle Diaries” follows his early years as a medical student, who accompanied by his friend and fellow biochemist student, Alberto Granado, embark on a five month road trip across South America, in order to use their newly acquired training to volunteer in aiding a remote leper colony along the Amazon River.
Not entirely caught up in their seriousness, the pair seeks fun and adventure on the road, ahead of their forthcoming graduation, in doing so they visit Chile, Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, and Cuba with the starting point being their home of Buenos Aires in Argentina. It’s most visually appealing moments are the San Carlos de Bariloche in Argentina’s Lake District, the Atacama Desert in Chile, and the eventual arrival at the Incan Citadel of Machu Picchu in the Andes Mountain range of Peru.
Despite South America appearing as a highly daunting place due to its crime rates and excessive poverty, its cinematic representations have often shown its much more tranquil and serene side, a beautiful and exceptional continent worth getting lost in. Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara’s real life journey across South America via motorcycle in the 1950’s has since fundamentally inspired many others to undertake the voyage, subsequently making it one of the most popular road trip routes of all time.
Honourable Mentions: The Man from Rio (1964), Up (2009), Manhattan (1979), In Bruges (2008), The Way (2011), Easy Rider (1969), Hector and the Search for Happiness (2014), Tracks (2013), The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011), Seven Years in Tibet (1997), Monsoon Wedding (2001), A Room With a View (1985), It Started in Naples (1960), A Good Year (2006), Everest (2015), Wild (2014), Skyfall (2012), Heading South (2005), Chef (2014), La Collectionneuse (1967), Salmon Fishing in Yemen (2011), Life in a Day (2011).
Author Bio: Dan Carmody, born and raised in Doncaster, England. When not working as a Civil Engineer, his one true passion is cinema, relating back to the early 1990’s when his mum showed him a lot of horror films way before he should have been allowed. He is an avid follower of all film genres, most notably the work of Tarantino, Fincher and The Coens. Also enthusiastic about video games, travelling, making lists and cheese.