Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Top 10 Best Travel Movies Ever Made!

Here are my top 10 favourite travel movies of all time...with a slight bias on biker/motorcycle movies. These babies never fail to inspire me:

Top 5 Travel Movies

5. The Beach. 2000. d. Danny Boyle. This movie has to be on here. Just like the book, no other movie so captures the backpacker scene and travel in South East Asia and in general.

4. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. 1998. d. Terry Gilliam. The ultimate road trip! Again like the book, Hunter S. Thompson's semi-autobiographical, drink-and-drug-fuelled search for the illusive American dream is a different kind of travel movie, but one I'm sure alot of us can relate to. Without it we certainly wouldn't have had The Hangover movies.

3. Transylvania. 2006. d. Tony Gatlif. And infact anything by Tony Gatlif. Transylvania is the story of a french woman who has travelled to Romania in search of her lost love, only to find him and discover he doesn't want her anymore. Though what happens next has been pulled upon by critics for its supposedly weak plot, what I see in it is a highly thought out, deeply inspiring journey, both for the two fantastic main characters and for us, the audience. It's all in the subtext, that's all. As is Gatlif's way, no movie better captures the essence of travel in Transylvania. Prepare to be emotionally moved as you travel Romania in a love-sick blur of fleeting encounters, strange local customs, beautiful scenery and great travel moments. The music and visuals are superb!

2. Lost in Translation. 2003. d. Sofia Coppola. Arguably Sofia Coppola's finest movie, Lost in Translation deals with all her usual suspects: it is a story of isolation and loneliness in a strange place (posibly the reason most Japanese people I've spoken to about it can't see what the fuss is about), and the subsequent finding of an unlikely companionship and bond. Like all of the movies in this list, it is one most travellers will relate to. It's also a fantastic representation of travel in Japan.

1. Into the Wild. 2007. d. Sean Penn. This is everything a great travel movie should be! And the fact it's a true story makes it all the more powerful. Like all good road movies, it is a collection of fleeting moments, brief encounters and life long friendships, only put together with some of the most talented editing, camera work, visuals and music to ever grace a film, which only makes the great tragedy at the end sadder. There's too much to say here. You'll have to see it for yourselves!

Top 5 Motorcycle Travel Movies

5. World’s Fastest Indian. 2005. d. Roger Donaldson. This heartwarming motorcycle movie is held in high esteem by bikers all over the world. It is the true story of New Zealander and amateur motorcycle builder, Burt Munro, who travelled all the way to the Bonneville salt flats in Utah against all odds to test his own motorcycle. A true underdog story with all the ingredients of a classic road movie!

4. The Wild One. 1953. d. Laslo Benedek. This is the film that kicked off the biker scene. A gang of young ex-servicemen turned vagabond bikers roll into a small town (based on Hollister, CA) and wreak havoc. Starring Marlon Brando in an early role, demonstrating his revelolutionary method-acting technique. Though very dated and just a tad sexist by today's standards, at the heart of The Wild One is what it means to be a biker...or wandering nomad.

3. Quadrophenia. 1979. d. Franc Roddam. Okay so this is technically a Mod movie, but we're beyond all that aren't we? A group of Mods descend on sunny Brighton to have a good time, while the final message of the movie is anything but. Produced by The Who, Quadrophenia captures the riots of 1964 as well as the whole Mods and Rockers scene and the problems of the day (many of which I would argue are still the problems of today). Plus, I like it because it's set in Brighton and filmed in and around Eastbourne and Beachy Head - where I grew up.

2. The Motorcycle Diaries. 2004. d. Walter Salles. This movie is god for so many reasons: It's a great representation of the struggles and the triumphs of motorcycle travel (yes, pun intended), of Patagonia and South America in general, it's an insight into the early life of Che Guevara, and finally the direction is simply fantastic - totally original! Keep your eyes on this space (I mean it...bookmark me!) for a review on Jack Kerouac's On the Road, also directed by Walter Salles!

1. Easy Rider. 1969. d. Dennis Hopper. The original "Road Movie", Easy Rider had to be no.1. It opitimises everything about the 60s, an era of false hopes and illusory freedoms and set the genre that would later go on to fuel and inspire a million travellers.

Honourable Mentions

Stealing Beauty. 1996. d. Bernardo Bertolucci. Very Coppola-esque, this is another laid back travel movie set in Siena and the Tuscan countryside. After her mother's suicide, a 19-year-old American girl (Liv Tyler) travels to Italy to try to solve the mystery of who her father is...amongst other things.

Slumdog Millionaire. 2008. d. Danny Boyle...again. Despite all the hype (which was fairly offputting) this is actually an exceptional movie and almost certainly the best India-travel-film out there.

In Bruges. 2008. d. Martin McDonagh. Though not technically a travel movie at all, there's something about In Bruges that perfectly captures what it's like to be stuck in a tourist town with nothing to do but eventually meet people and have a good time.

Anyway, I'm sure there are more. I just can't think of them off the top of my head.

If you have any suggestions for me or the other readers, please post them in the comments and I'll review the list for you.

Here are some other great travel movie lists:

The World's 12 Best Travel Movies by Justin Marozzi
Top 10 Travel Movies to Get You Going by T-Roy of Go Backpacking
Top 30 Movies about Travel by Seattle's Travels
The Best Travel Movies by Runaway Guide
Top 10 Best Travel Movies by Michelle the Confessed Travelholic

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