Sunday, February 27, 2011

Movies that arouse my wanderlust...

Travel and movies are somewhat similar - they are both forms of escapism. We all want to escape from reality and experience something new. Travel takes us to places we've never been and movies take us inside characters of people very different from ourselves. Both distract us, inspire us, educate us, awaken us and broaden our perspective. They offer much needed therapy to our soul by transporting us to another world which is very different from our mundane lives.

Its so easy for me to sit through crappy films if they are filmed at exotic locations. Being passionate about the subject of travel, the destination takes precedence over the story. I get lost in the backdrop and almost  demerge the cinematography from the actual movie. Movies have a powerful ability to evoke a sense of exoticism and they surely inspire travel to those destinations.  Here's a list of movies that arouse my wanderlust...

The Beach - It's a cliche to put this up. If you love to travel you've seen it a million times. A travel movie list would be incomplete without a mention of The beach. It's a story about young backpackers who set out to find a tropical "island paradise" in Thailand. It's a bible for backpackers traveling to Asia & truly depicts the laid back life on Thai islands. Its was shot on the Thai island of Phi Phi. Just don't make the mistake of heading to Phi Phi island- its a tourist magnet since the movie released.

Under the Tuscan Sun - Starring Diane Lane, this is a story about a woman who moves to Italy after divorcing her husband. It's centered around her experiences of purchasing a villa in Tuscany where she finds new love, friendship and happiness. The story is mundane, but the cinematography is stunning. It indulges you with amazing vistas of Italian countryside surrounded by rolling green hills Tuscany as well as the breathtaking Amalfi Coast.

 The Lord of the Rings - Without any hesitation, I rate New Zealand as the most beautiful country I've visited. If there is any country besides India I could live in, it has to be NZ. There couldn't be better setting LOTR -the stunning landscapes, evergreen forests and wonderful mountains are what New Zealand is all about. Peter Jackson captures the magic of the place wonderfully. Cant wait to go revisit NZ.

Blood Diamond -  Africa's profound beauty and striking landscapes have always enthralled me. The fact that Sierra Leone is dangerous & life threatening country makes it all the more alluring. I've been to several countries in Africa - but they are the touristy bits of the continent. Sierra Leone surely sounds captivating.

Memoirs of a Geisha - Although this movie was not filmed in Japan, the set designers did a great job in recreating it you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference. The opening scenery of the Japanese coast, the little fishing village, Japanese tea houses and the set of the small Kyoto alleyways lined with geisha houses and you’ll immediately feel like you have been transported to Japan in the 1920s. The result is a visually stunning love letter to Kyoto. It's on the wishlist.

Seven years in Tibet - This movie is one of many reasons I want to go to Tibet. It's probably one of the few visual insights we have of what Tibetan culture might have been like before the Chinese invasion. This movie is about a German mountaineer and his time with the Dali Lama. Released in 1997 and starring Brad Pitt, it takes a good look at Tibetan culture on the eve of the Chinese invasion. You get an outsider’s perspective on this remote nation and of the ruler who now lives in exile in India.

 Honorable mentions...

 Some movies like Eat-Pray-Love, The International, Bourne Identity and Dhoom (Hindi) are filmed in several international locations. But I'm biased towards movies that singularly focus on one nation / culture, as opposed to actors globetrotting every few minutes.

Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe. ~Anatole France