My Favourite Travel Movies and Documentaries
Travel movies and documentaries have always been a great source for me for my travels. This is a list of some of my favorite travel movies and documentaries that I often watch either when I am not on the road as much as I would like to be or to get myself in the mood before an upcoming trip. As you will notice, not all of the movies and documentaries in this list can be classified as travel genre per se. However, the visuals and the stories that they tell usually make me link these productions with the desire to step out of my comfort zone – primary reason to travel for me.
Death in Venice
As strange as it may sound Death in Venice by Visconti – based on the novella of my favorite author Thomas Mann is one of the best travel stories of all time. The novella gives so much insight into the rather unsuspected drivers behind ones desire to travel. It merges Thomas Mann`s highly praised talent to look very closely into the human psychology and the concept of travel.
I have been to California many times but never to the wine region. Not that I don’t like wine (who would believe it anyways) but I always went to California to visit friends or the cities and there was never enough time to explore the rural areas. Yet the Sideways is a movie that always make me better understand why I like the West Coast of the USA a little bit more than its East Coast. The movies is a story of two middle aged man on a bachelor road trip to the Souther wine country in California. There is a lot of wine talking in the movie and I especially love the picnic scene.
Free Solo is a documentary about the first free solo ascent of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, United States by Alex Honnold. It is an exceptional challenge and hard to be repeated. What was more impressing for me in this documentary was the human story surrounding it including primarily Alex Honnold`s partner Sanni McCandless. You are also guaranteed breathtaking sceneries from Yosemite National Park in this perfectly filmed documentary.
The English Patient
English Patient was my all time favourite movie when it came out at a time when I was 15. I am now 40 and although I now can see it more as a blockbuster, it still touches me. I love Ralph Fiennes, I love all his movies like the Constant Gardener, like the End of the Affair and the more recent the Grand Budapest Hotel. Ralph Fiennes and always elegant Kristin Scott Thomas makes is the duo in the heart of this love story. English Patient will always hold a dear place in my heart and I still cry during the final cave scene whenever I watch it. Also, the old church scene with Kip and Hana also always reminds me of my beloved Cappadocia. Although the story takes place in the border of Egypt and Libya on Sahara Desert, it was actually filmed in Morocco – one of the visually most inspiring countries in the World for me.
The Constant Gardener
You saw it coming, did not you? I watched it maybe five times before I traveled to Kenya and the soundtrack for this movie is as good as the movie itself. It is the story of an unlikely couple challenged by many external factors. Pharmaceutical companies is involved in the plot line and you know it rarely means a good thing.
The Painted Veil
The Painted Veil is an amazing movie and may be among my top three favorite travel movies. It is initially centered around the expat community in China and then takes you down to the Southern China with the fabulous Edward Norton and Naomi Watts on your side. This movie is usually on repeat play on my screen during this time I am planing my upcoming trip to Vietnam a place which I hope offers equally beautiful landscapes.
Into the Wild
A must watch movie for any independent traveler. The song Society originally written by Jerry Hannan and covered by Eddie Wedder for the movie speaks for the movie itself. I can however not watch this movie very often as the final scene and the words Chris says makes me question myself so I try to avoid it. The movie may not need much of an introduction but it is about the true story of Chris McCandless and his quest to avoid the societal pressures around him.
I do not like any of Woody Allen’s Europe movies except for the Match Point but I adore all his New York movies (except for Whatever Works). I also liked Blue Jasmine taking place in San Francisco. Manhattan which is considered as Allen’s odd to NY is my all time favourite Woody Allen movie. Maybe together with Annie Hall and also maybe together with Husbands and Wifes and Hannah and Her Sisters. Oh and maybe together with New York Stories. Well, you get the picture.
Such a sad movie depicting true events but this is the movie I always think of when I am in my beloved Switzerland around Eiger. One of the best climbing movies out there.
Lost in Translation
If you are traveling to Japan, you must watch this amazing movie directed by the equally amazing Sofia Coppola. This movie makes a great job reflecting that crazy side of Japan by also showing the solitude experienced by the outsiders in the middle of all that craziness. I love traveling to Japan for many different reasons and one of the reasons is to experience the loneliness you feel even when you are surrounded by such loudness – talking about you Tokyo! It is also by many considered one of the best love stories of all times. I concur with that.
The movie is based on the true story of Robyn Davidson who took a solo track across the Australian outback in 1977. Pretty amazing views and a lot of solitude – more than one can take.
Beautiful views of Cairo, Egypt. A classic travel story focused on expats and their interactions with the local people living in an (authentic!) Middle Eastern city.
Reese Whiterspoon is lovely in this movie depicting the true story of Cheryl Strayed who solo trekked from Mexico border up to the Canadian border of the United States (Pacific Crest Trail). This movie based on a book gives you an incredible urge to walk. Happy to be living in a country where I can go on many long walk adventures. Though nothing as long as Pacific Crest Trail.
Away We Go
Story of a couple traveling through North America to find the ideal city to raise their yet to be born child. Montreal looked quite attractive to me. It is a very relatable couple getting themselves into relatively strange circumstances. One of the good road trip stories told from a new point of view.
Little Miss Sunshine
I remember watching this movie in the small town of Perugia located in Umbria region of Italy. Such a heart warming story with great acting by all and amazing soundtrack by Devotchka. Road trip by a very unconventional extended family. We get to know each member of the family relatively intimately in this very watchable movie. The opening scene alone allows you to immediately get the tone of this movie.
Thelma and Louise
Such a classic. I can watch the scene where the Ballad of Lucy Jordan by Marianne Faithfull plays every single day. Probably the best road trip movie out there.