Movies that Inspire Travel
Going to the movies is a transcending experience. That’s why I am picky about what I spend my money to see. A film should transport you into its world seamlessly. There have been a few movies with destinations that make me want to buy a ticket to experience the location firsthand. Here’s my list of favorites.
One Love (Jamaica)
I like that this movie was shot in Jamaica and actual Jamaican actors had major roles. I get frustrated when non-Jamaicans are expected to get the accent just right. This is always an epic fail and it hurts my ears.
The story is about a love overcoming religion. Shot in a mountain village we get to peek behind the curtain of rural Jamaican life. The camera sweeps by lush mountain vistas displaying multiple shades of green. Serena (Cherine Anderson) is a gospel singer and the daughter of a pastor who falls for Kassa, (Kymani Marley) a free spirited Rasta man whose band enters a reggae contest with Serena as their lead vocalist. Kassa’s draw to Serena is inevitable because he represents a freedom that she had been unable to experience because of her strict religious upbringing.
The devil is in the scenic details of rural life. A glowing wood fire, hands drumming furiously to chants, picking a mango are the elements that make me yearn to go to live a more simplistic life in the Jamaican countryside.
To Catch a Thief (France)
This is a love letter to the French Rivera and my favorite Hitchcock movie. This location has a leading role just like Grace Kelly and Cary Grant. Seeing the Riviera like this makes me want to jump on a plane every time I see it. In old Hollywood glamour, Grant plays a former cat-burglar who is suspected of a rash of jewelry heists that fit his former modus operando. Kelly is an heiress that is convinced that he’s not at all innocent of the police’s suspicions.
The Riviera is as lush and seductive as the exchanges between Grant and Kelley. Hitchcock’s film language is displayed with slow, long aerial shots of winding roads that is a soft exhale into this relaxing vacation film. Well balanced shots of Kelly applying tanning oil and lying on powder white sand while gazing at the ocean’s waves are all I need to fantasize.
On another romantic note, Kelly met and fell in love for Prince Rainer of Monaco. She later left movie-making, married him and became a real life Princess.
The Darjeeling Limited (India)
India is on my travel bucket list. In the meantime, I have this film that rolls on in a train across India. Owen Wilson, Adrian Brody and Jason Schwartzman embark on a spiritual journey to find their mother, played my Angelica Huston.
Shot in Jodhpur and Rajasthan the country is felt all through the film, not just in the scenery but in the local actors. Director, Wes Anderson made it a point to hire natives which contributed to the spirit of the film. Their unforced mannerisms added to the film’s accent. Since there were almost no sets built, the actors were able to work and connect to their environment.
City of God (Brazil)
One of my travel fantasies is to do the samba in Rio covered in just body paint. The carnival Rio de Janeiro of my dreams is not featured here in “City of God,” instead, we see the poverty ridden favelas set against the pristine beaches and beautiful women.
The film is based on a true story about the rise of organized crime in the 1960’s. Rocket, the films protagonist is budding photographer who travels through Rio uninhibited. Born in impoverished circumstances and with the wrong skin color, Rocket exists outside the normalcy of his crime ridden neighborhood. Rocket is a rarity, in that he blurs the class and color lines. He uses his access to crime lords by taking their pictures so they can gain notoriety, thereby making the leap into a professional success as a newspaper photographer.
I like the visual exchange between the chic upper class homes and offices in Rio de Janeiro and the dangerous narrow alleys of the favelas. The film’s fast pace and jerky camera movements are almost visceral and make me feel as if I am living in this bustling city.
So that’s my list of memorable films that inspire travel. What’s on your list?