5 Movies Guaranteed To Give You Wanderlust
It seems strange that watching movies, an activity that is by nature passive, can inspire wanderlust in viewers, but the medium of film is actually in a unique position in that it can quite literally take us anywhere. All a filmmaker has to do is turn his camera on the natural beauty of India, Venice or even Kansas and as long as the cinematography is good, viewers will begin mentally daydreaming about vacationing there. A scenic movie can be a better motivator than a pre-packaged vacation video because rather than highlighting the amenities at the hotel it can appeal to our sense of adventure.
It doesn’t matter if the subject matter is frightening, if the scenery is pretty it’s easy to overlook the killer vines (The Ruins) and falling boulders of doom (127 Hours). A movie doesn’t even have to be particularly good (I’m looking at you Eat Pray Love), it just has to be grounded in a strong sense of place and that place has to provide enough natural eye candy to make us long to get off our couches and see the world.
If watching Under the Tuscan Sun doesn’t make you want to immediately move to Tuscany then you probably already live in Tuscany. The actual plot of the movie is nothing spectacular: woman finds out her husband is cheating on her, woman ditches husband in favor of adventures, woman meets sexy Italian dude– you know the drill. It’s decent, but the plot is not the reason I rewatch the film every single time I stumble across it on cable (and trust me, that happens a lot).
It’s infinitely rewatchable because of the stunning landscapes, the old, but beautiful villa Diane Lane’s character decides to refurbish and the lush yellows that seem to suggest that Italy is in fact the sunniest, happiest place on Earth. Director Audrey Wells turns the countryside into a character unto itself, a character who is a bit of a diva to be honest because Tuscany steals the movie right out from under Diane Lane.
Wes Anderson has a knack for creating vivid, colorful visuals as it is, but when he turned his attention to India in The Darjeeling Limited he outdid himself. The story of three brothers’ quest for spiritual discovery is set against the backdrop of India with its bustling markets and stunning temples. In addition to displaying the natural beauty of India, Anderson throws in a healthy dollop of that most romantic means of travel, the passenger train as well.
Despite its modern setting, the film’s heart is full of nostalgia. It not only makes you want to travel, it makes you want to travel back to a time when people didn’t just take vacations, they went on journeys with nary a souvenir shop in sight.
Based on the true story of Christopher McCandless’s trek into the wilderness, Into the Wild is the story of one young man’s insatiable wanderlust and how it ended in tragedy. While the story is a wrenching cautionary tale, director Sean Penn, along with Emile Hersch as McCandless, managed to capture the beautiful spirit of the story’s protagonist and create a moving love letter to the varied landscape of America in the process.
The movie’s ode to nature, backpacking and the wonderful people travel can bring into your life is a fitting tribute to a McCandless.
Despite some pretty lofty aspirations, Eat Pray Love is a lightweight film. It’s like Under the Tuscan Sun if Italy had just been the first leg of a much longer journey for Diane Lane. However, it boasts not one, but three locales: Italy, India and Bali, each one more tantalizing than the last. Watching Julia Roberts eat her way through Italy, vow silence in India and then ultimately make-out with Javier Bardem a lot in Bali is far more rewarding than it has any right to be, but the movie is so pretty to look at you just roll with it.
Egypt is a place we don’t often get to visit in cinema. We see it often on the news, but it’s rare to catch a glimpse of day-to-day Egyptian life. Cairo Time not only lets us peak behind the curtain, it gives us one of the most subtly effective romances to come out of cinema since Once.
Watching Cairo Time, you can almost feel the heat of the sun beating down on the crowded streets and almost smell the coffee brewing in the café the characters haunt throughout the film. Patricia Clarkson’s character’s love affair with the city is palpable and it seeps into the viewer’s consciousness as the story wears on. There’s a sense of danger, yes, but by the time she visits the pyramids it’s hard to see anything but the breathtaking natural beauty of Egypt.
I’ve shared five movies that always leave me window shopping for vacations on the internet, now it’s your turn. Which movies leave you feeling like you’ve been bitten by the travel bug?
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