In my opinion…
This list is far from complete, but in order to keep it a Top 10, I had to cut it short. These are just some of my favourites that have inspired and instilled a need and desire to travel that was deep enough for me to finally change it all up and hit the road. If you haven’t seen these or have missed a few over the years, I urge you to see them the next time you need a bit of inspiration or encouragement. They are in no particular order…
1. Seven Years in Tibet – It’s been years since I’ve seen this, a decade at least, but I still remember the landscapes and the people. It certainly isn’t one of my favorite movies, but it has kept Tibet on my list for travel since 1997 and I hope to get there soon.
True story of Heinrich Harrer, an Austrian mountain climber who became friends with the Dalai Lama at the time of China’s takeover of Tibet.
2. Into the Wild – The tragically inspiring true story of Christopher McCandless who donates all of his savings and possessions to charity and decides to hitchhike to Alaska. Filled with stunning scenery and emotional depth this was one of my favourite films of 2007 and will remain one of my favourite travel movies forever. It also has one of the greatest soundtracks imaginable.
3. Outsourced – I just watched this recently and I’m not sure how I’ve missed it all these years. It was released in 2006 and it is a funny, touching and inspiring interpretation of what it can be like to be completely out of your element. A call centre manager is sent to India to train his replacement after his entire office is outsourced. Having been to India, I was able to relate on many different levels. I was a younger and more inexperienced traveller and I’d never been anywhere so different in my life. Well worth watching.
4. Motorcycle Diaries – Beautiful landscapes and a remarkable story are the highlights in this film. For me, with a lengthy trip to South America in my future travel plans, I really enjoyed this. It follows Che Guevara and his friend on an 8000km motorcycle trip through Latin America that opened his eyes to the realities of the continent and inspired his life’s work. The movie is Spanish, but you won’t mind.
5. The Way – The story follows a father who has just lost his son along the Camino de Santiago in the northwest of Spain. I have always enjoyed performances by Martin Sheen and this was no exception. Not only did I enjoy this as a film, but it also inspired me to take the pilgrimage from St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostella for myself – and 800km journey across the northwest of Spain. I’ve written a bit more about The Way in I Will Walk 500 Miles…
6. In Bruges – This is, quite simply, hilarious. I quite enjoy the dry, British humour present in the film. I am not, nor have I ever been, a fan of Colin Farrell – this is the exception. The performances from Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes and even Farrell are perfect. This is also the only movie that has in fact directly inspired my travel. Last Spring I was able to finally get to Bruges. It didn’t disappoint. Bruges, Belgium is where the movie is set and it was entirely filmed there. A must watch, especially if you’ve got Belgian travel plans in your future.
7. The Darjeeling Limited – I have always been a huge fan of Wes Anderson. Sadly I wasn’t introduced to his work until The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. The Darjeeling Limited gives you a fantastic picture of what India can be like and really made me want to do more train travel there. India was one of my first trips overseas and I had the opportunity to take a train from New Delhi up north to Amritsar. This movie really helped bring me back to 1998 and that early morning train ride. Jason Shwartzman really steals the show even though there is another brilliant, albeit short performance from one of my favourites – Bill Murray.
8. The Beach – The first half of this movie is, in my opinion, fantastic. It really gives you a feeling of what it is to strike out on your own in search of excitement and adventure in a strange and unfamiliar place. From the first time I saw it, I knew I wanted to go to Thailand. It may actually have been the first time I’d ever considered it. While I haven’t been yet, I will be flying in to Bangkok in October 2013 and I can’t wait!
9. Midnight In Paris – I simply loved this film. Perhaps it was the sets, perhaps it was the setting. I’m not sure. When I watched it, I hadn’t yet been to Paris, but as the credits rolled I realized that Paris had moved at least a few cities higher on my list. It is one of my favourite performances from Owen Wilson and I thought Marion Cotillard was brilliant. I highly recommend this one, it’s also the most recent on my list.
10. Lost In Translation – The fact that I’m leaving for Japan isn’t the only reason I’ve included this movie. It is quite simply a beautiful story starring one of my favorite actors and shot in what seems like an incredible city. A washed up actor (Bill Murray) and a young, lonely newlywed (Scarlett Johansson) form an unusual and unexpected friendship while in Tokyo.
Bonus. Every James Bond Film Ever Made – The only reason this is a bonus instead of a Top 10 is it would take up too many titles, and technically it isn’t a movie. It is however an incredible series of films that, if nothing else, inspire travel. This is Bond’s 50th birthday on the big screen and I felt it was worth mentioning only because the countries where Bond films have been shot were almost entirely done on location, unless political instability wouldn’t allow it. As a kid, I used to love watching these and they certainly allowed me to see parts of the world I hadn’t known about or thought of. Amazing series. Here’s to another 50 years!