Seven-ish movies to inspire your next adventure

by Ronnie Charrier & Phoebe Blyth


You know that feeling you get at the end of a really good film, just before the lights come back up, where you still live in the world of the characters, and anything is possible? Has that feeling ever stayed with you and made you want to do something crazy, even days afterwards? If the New Year has left you feeling restless, we have put together a list of our favorite films that might just give you the inspiration you need to start planning your next great adventure. From breathtaking landscapes to euphoric journeys, here are some of our favorite movies to ignite that traveller’s itch, and send you on your way.

Into The Wild (2007)

Based on the 1996 non-fiction novel by Jon Krakauer, Sean Penn’s quiet and emotive film tells the story of Christopher McCandless, aka Alexander Supertramp: a recently graduated idealist who eschews a bright future in corporate law, and disappears from what he considers to be a phony and materialistic society. After donating thousands of his law school fund to Oxfam, abandoning all his possessions, and cutting off contact with his family, McCandless disappears. Fuelled by the words of his icons - Thoreau, Tolstoy and Jack London - McCandless journeys through North America, and eventually north to Alaska, where he believes that he will finally become one with the wild. Into The Wild is a truly inspiring, beautifully produced film, which asks deeply emotive questions about the place of a human in the world, without dissolving into sentimentality. You’ll be stuffing your hiking pack before the end credits roll.

*If you need more motivation, or for a similar filmic experience, but with slightly better hiking boots and shot of girl-power: check out Wild (2014), based on the 2012 novel by Cheryl Strayed. There’s nothing quite like the catharsis of screaming “f*** you!!!!” into a desolate valley, miles away from civilization...

Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)

If the wilderness isn’t quite your bundle of firewood, and you dream of more romantic ventures, then curl up and indulge with this sumptuous tale. Under the Tuscan Sun tells the story of a recent divorcee who, heeding the advice of a friend, travels around Italy before impulsively buying a Tuscan villa. The movie was filmed in multiple locations throughout Italy, many in Tuscany — Florence, Arezzo, and Siena — as well as Rome and Positano. Think quaint villages, Tuscan countryside, and spectacular coastal views. If the scenery isn’t enough to have you reaching for your wallet, the romance and charming streetscapes should do the trick.

*If you can’t afford to cross the seas quite yet, indulge in more Mediterranean romance with Woody Allen’s steamy tribute to the menage-a-trois: Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008); or the slightly annoying but visually indulgent Eat, Pray, Love (2010).

Seven Years in Tibet (1997)

Adapted from the 1952 memoirs of Austria’s Heinrich Harrer, Seven Years in Tibet depicts the experiences of Harrer during World War II. Mountaineer Harrer (1997 Brad Pitt - enough said), famously left behind his pregnant young wife for a Himalayan mountaineering expedition in 1939. After being captured in India by Allied forces and incarcerated as a prisoner of war, he managed, after multiple attempts, to escape. The film then follows his amazing journey to Tibet, and into the Forbidden City of Lhasa, where he becomes acquainted with their spiritual way of life. Harrer is introduced to his holiness, the Dalai Lama, and becomes a tutor of the spiritual leader. During his time in Lhasa, the two form a lasting friendship, with the stunning mountain landscape of Tibet, and the looming threat of Chinese invasion as the backdrop.

The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)

“We travel just to travel.” — Ernesto Guevara de la Serna.

The Motorcycle Diaries tells the tale of young Che Guevara and his friend, two comrades who travel from Brazil to Peru on - you guessed it - a motorcycle. Their trip, filmed in Argentina, Peru, Chile, Colombia, Venezuela, and Cuba, takes roughly nine months, and the epic road trip is totally repeatable thanks to this comprehensive guide — you know, in case you're interested. This film depicts the roots of Che’s socialism, and his connection to the people he begins to see as one nation. To intensify the experience, watch after reading Kerouak’s On The Road. For a slightly less socially aware adventure south of the border, check out Y Tu Mama Tambien, for a charming and sexy coming-of-age journey through Mexico.

The Endless Summer (1966)

Bruce Brown’s cult classic The Endless Summer is a dreamy doco-film following two young surfers who avoid the winter by chasing summer around the world. In one of the first films to ever take surfing to the big screen, surfers Mike Hynson and Robert August travel to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Tahiti and Hawaii on a quest for new summer surf spots. In a time when surfing was still a low participated sport, Brown shows the perfect marriage between surf and travel. Discovering waves which had never been ridden or filmed before, Brown beautifully captures and narrates what are now known to be some of the most famous waves in the world, most notably South Africa’s Cape St Francis. The Endless Summer is an eloquent and inspiring story and a true product of its time. Don’t be surprised if your next vacation spot has a beach...

The Beach (2000)

And speaking of beaches…

The Beach is the ultimate white sands, turquoise water and isolated paradise dream… and until things get all strange and culty, it will make you want to throw out all your belongings, fly to Thailand and camp out under the stars at Maya Bay. While the bay is much, much busier in real life, there is still plenty of unique experiences to be had, and this engrossing film gives glimpses into the beauty and chaos of Southeast Asia’s bustling tourism.

Lost In Translation (2003)

Lost In Translation has none of the sumptuous romance of the mediterranean, or the endless and inspiring landscapes of the alps or the Pacific Crest Trail. Instead, Sofia Coppola's beloved, quirky film will inspire you to plant yourself in a completely alien culture — in this instance, the neon lights of Tokyo. The narrative is driven by the unlikely friendship that blossoms between Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson's characters. There's karaoke, drinks, and all the new experiences and perspectives that you gain when living in a strange city.