5 Movies That Inspired Me to Travel Ben Hancock March 7 Features, Film 20 Comments There are films that transport you, and films that make you want to transport yourself. The latter variety not only succeed in capturing the mood and essence of a destination, but stir you to experience it for yourself. And as a travel-addict, those are the kinds of films I’m all about. Here are the titles that made the top of my short list of movies that inspire travel: #1: Before Sunrise Set in Vienna, the power of this 1995 film is rooted in its unpolished simplicity. As we follow the main characters through this gorgeous and historic city, there are no dramatic musical crescendos, no plot twists, and no action sequences of any kind. It’s just two people, experiencing a place and sharing a bit of themselves — an honest depiction of travel. Jesse (Ethan Hawke) is a heartbroken American who’s been aimlessly riding Europe’s rails and is on his way to Vienna to catch a flight home. On the train, he strikes up a chance conversation with Celine (Julie Delpy), who’s on her way back to Paris. When the train begins to roll towards Jesse’s stop, he tells Celine that he’s almost out of money and is planning to just kick around the city until his flight leaves the next day. In a last minute decision, she’s convinced to go with him. What unravels from there is a kind of subtle and hastened romance. The streets, parks and bars of the city play host to Jesse and Celine’s conversations about life and love, which are pushed deeper by the constant knowledge that their time together is brief. At the end of the film we see sweeping shots of the avenues they passed during the night, shown in the new light of day with characters absent; it’s a stark representation of how the places we visit leave emotional impressions on us, though we rarely leave such a mark upon them. #2: In the Mood for Love Set in Hong Kong, 1962, In the Mood for Love gives only glimpses of the main character’s world — a tiny apartment, an alleyway with lane houses, and a street-vendor noodle shop. But through his modern film noir style, director Wong Kar Wai evokes a dark, exaggerated and romantic mood from these corners of the city. His drawn out scenes cradle imagination, and force us to think about the inspiring qualities of unlikely places. Cho Mo-Wan (Tony Leung) is a journalist who’s just rented a room next to that of So Lhai-zhen (Maggie Cheung). Both of their spouses work overtime and are rarely home, and so the two begin a friendship. Eventually Cho and So confide their mutual suspicions that their spouses are cheating on them with each other. This realization draws the two into a strange relationship and, feeling guilty about the scandal their romance would cause, Cho takes a job in Singapore. But though he’s left physically, his heart apparently didn’t make the journey; years later her returns to Hong Kong in search of So, only to find that time has irreversibly changed the place he used to know. #3: L’Auberge Espagnole The cultural intersections, the fumbled words, the drunken nights that stretch ’til dawn; this film wholly captures the study abroad experience in all its awkward humor. Whether you’ve studied in another country or not, L’Auberge Espagnole (“The Spanish Apartment”) resonates on a human level with every traveler. Xavier (Romain Duris) is a French economics students who’s doing a program in Barcelona, and winds up sharing an apartment with a group of students hailing from all over western Europe. Over his year-long stay, the world Xavier knew is turned on its head, and his ties to home are strained even as those with new friends are strengthened. He begins to wonder what he’s doing with economics at all and digs deeper into his hobby as a writer. (Sound familiar?) #4: Lost in Translation Director Sofia Coppola’s Tokyo is a glowing, unsure place; characters connect with each other only as passers-by, struggling to understand themselves and the city amid a never-ending haze of jet lag. Getting lost here is something both painful and beautiful, even for an aging, reluctant cynic like Bob Harris. Harris (Bill Murray) is a washed-up actor who’s come to Japan to do photo shoots for a whisky endorsement. During one of his many sleepless nights spent at the hotel bar, he encounters Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), a recent Yale graduate who’s tagging along with her well-meaning but inattentive photographer husband. Over the next few days, the two form an undefinable yet vaguely romantic friendship, and share doubts about the direction of their lives. In the film we see Tokyo (and a bit of Kyoto) through foreign eyes. There’s a sense of wonder, confusion and even subtle spirituality. The stunning visuals and bittersweet plot are enough to make you want to hop the next flight to Narita. #5: The Motorcycle Diaries In the heart of South America, a lonely motorcycle gobbles up an open road. The growling engine jitters the camera, and as we watch we feel like we’re being thrust into unknown oblivion. For those with a bad case of wanderlust, it’s probably the sexiest scene ever. The Motorcycle Diaries, based on the written memoir of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, is such a gripping film because not only is it about travel, but also about transformation. Setting out from Argentina with his friend Alberto on a rickety bike they call “The Mighty One,” Ernesto (played by Gael Garcia Bernal) is changed during a trans-continental journey as he encounters the crushing poverty of South America’s native people. In the final leg of their trip, Che arrives at a leper colony and offers a bit of his medical expertise. It is here that his political notions are solidified, as he observes the river that separates the villages of doctors and patients — a representation of the divide between the ruling classes and the ruled. While journeying abroad may not necessarily bring out the revolutionary in everyone, those of us who’ve been down a few roads can surely relate to the film’s depiction of how travel can change the course of our lives. What are your favorite travel-inspiring films? Feel free to share them in the comments below. 20 Responses Rob O. April 17 “Local Hero” is a quirky little underdog of a film, but it did give me the urge to visit the British Isles… And “Matchmaker” really struck a chord with me since I’ve been to the parts of Ireland that its fictional town is set in. Reply Allison P April 17 “The Beach” inspires me every time, despite the fact that the trip ends badly. “Brokedown Palace”-again, inspiring for the scenery, not the subject matter. Reply Zoey April 17 Great run down. I’d agree with all of those – totally fantastic films. Another film that inspired me to spend more time in Italy … cheesy as it is… was Only You. Those Amalfi coast scenes – wonderful! Reply Anthony April 17 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade…. haven’t been to Petra (Petra Tours) yet, but one of these days I will and I’ll ride off into the sunset with John Williams theme blaring on the headphones Reply Jay April 17 Into the Wild… Nuff said. Reply Dave Clements April 19 Agree with Jay. Into the Wild. Reply Les films qui donnent envie de voyager « Taxi-brousse April 20 […] 20, Avril, 2008 EnregistrÃ© dans : cinÃ© — Marie-Julie Gagnon @ 6:16 En lisant ce billet de Ben Hancock, je me suis demandÃ©eÂ Ã mon tourÂ quels films pouvaient constituer mon petit […] Reply Marilyn Terrell April 20 @Rob O.– I agree, “Local Hero” is a gem with a great sense of place! And “Into the Wild” has inspired McCandless pilgrims to trek to Healy, Alaska where the city bus in which he died has become a morbid tourist attraction: http://intelligenttravel.typepad.com/it/2007/10/into-the-wild-t.html Reply Chris Cook April 22 Well, I guess my netflix Queue will be filled for a bit. Thanks for the suggestions. Is it wierd that the movie Hanibal always makes me want to visit Florence? Reply Shane October 7 Baraka has always been the most inspiring for me to travel globally and to a lesser extent Chronos (also by Ron Fricke). Thelma & Louise nade me want to see the west and was one of the reasons for my cross country trip by pickup truck. In response to Chris Cook’s reply, one of the reasons I went to Florence was to go to the spot where Hannibal drew “the Duomo as seen from The Belvedere” in Silence of the Lambs Reply Eric June 26 Definitely Into The Wild , As Well As Seven Years In Tibet Reply Karina February 12 Wow, just was writing a review of Motorcycle diaries and searching through web for nice picture of the movie with Bernal… And accidently found that this cool travel movie was rated by you already. Sorry for taking a picture, but you have now a reference site. from me http://www.movetheglobe.com/2011/02/incredible-story-of-one-important.html Reply Nicole March 10 I love Before Sunrise, and equally, Before Sunset – even if they are both quite heart wrenching! Reply Nomadic Chick March 10 @Eric – never seen Seven Years, might have to give that one a go. Ok, this is a great post. I LOVE Before Sunrise. Not to mention Before Sunset. Some oldies and new ones to add to my watch list! Reply Fresh From Twitter March 12 […] http://on.mash.to/i4R18p RT @vagabondish: 5 Great Movies That Inspired Me to #Travel – http://bit.ly/h3Ay18 RT @selloholicmom: vintage samsonite yellow train case suitcase luggage travel #vett… […] Reply KaoKao March 13 @Chris. Odd. Death in Venice suggests the sinking city [to me. Why is it that no one wants to visit Fargo, The Garden State, Mystery, Alaska, or the Hotel Rwanda. Perhaps dining on the way in the tri-state area on a bit of The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh, or traveling with (and to) Juno. Reply Brittany121212 March 22 Call me cheesy … but I love the Bucket List and Eat. Pray. Love. Reply 5 PelÃculas que han inspirado a viajar | GuÃas Gratis March 24 […] artÃculo de Vagabondish, de Ben Hancock, nos dejaba una interesante lista, la de las 5 pelÃculas que han inspirado a su autor a viajar, y las ciudades o lugares en los que estaban […] Reply Viajes de PelÃcula « laportegna May 20 […] periodista y viajero Ben Hancock nos cuenta en la webÂ vagabondishÂ las 5 pelÃculas que le inspiran a la hora de […] Reply Annie@GreenTravelReviews December 30 The Lord of the Rings ;-) Going to New Zealand (for the second time in my life) next week \o/ Road tripping both island and putting in some LOTR-tours :-) Reply Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Let\'s Make Sure You\'re Human ... *Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA. three + four = Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.