Celebrating Cultures, Promoting Integration
Five films to help you explore the world from home
There is great excitement and restlessness that comes with watching movies about exploring a land that seems so foreign to the one that we call home, with films about travel and the journey being used by wishful travellers to instil a sense of wanderlust that would, in turn, inspire them to spread their wings and travel to these far distant lands. Unfortunately, due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, we’re not able to take flight and travel the world this year; actually, we’re probably more restricted location wise than we’ve ever been before.
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These films that are so instilled with a need for adventure allow us to extend beyond our sitting rooms’ confines, providing escapism free from the boundaries or restrictions we face in everyday life. A great comfort that enables us to see different perspectives, cultures, and landscapes in a level of depth that only comes with seeking out and witnessing them with our own set of eyes. Here is a list of films about travel aimed to broaden your horizons and offer the perfect escape, and hopefully some wanderlust that you can use once this pandemic finally comes to an end.
“The Darjeeling Limited” features director Wes Anderson’s trademark style of colour and quirkiness that perfectly encapsulates the feelings of travelling through a foreign land, which in turn helps to bring this bizarre and outlandish comedy to life. The story revolves around a dysfunctional family of three brothers who travel across India searching for their missing mother. In keeping with Anderson’s signature style, the vivid, saturated colours help accentuate the rich Indian culture while offering unique visuals that almost becomes as entertaining to watch as the film itself.
The idea of taking a ‘spiritual journey’ to India is used for comedic effect, as the historically liberating experience is now meticulously orchestrated by the manipulating older brother. Despite their extreme outcast status, the brothers are eager to assimilate into the society they’re presented to, a contrast that is both ridiculous and amusing. As the film progresses, the brothers begin to see beyond the spiritual façade of their journey and find value in the worth of their relationships, both figuratively and literally, leaving all of their baggage behind.
Scarlett Johansson stars as Charlotte and Billy Murray as Bob, two exceptionally different individuals with one crucial thing in common; they both find themselves lost in life, seeking direction or purpose while being entombed in a foreign land.
The film is mostly set in the nightscape of Tokyo, where the culture shock of an unaccustomed land combined with the inability to speak the language only adds to this beautiful sense of feeling lost that the protagonists of the film go through, a feeling that they find themselves expressing internally and externally in their expressions towards life. The film’s director Sofia Coppola perfectly captures the disconnect from being a stranger in a strange land.
Coppola keeps her film as hushed and intimate as a whisper; Lost in Translation.
Travelling to ‘find oneself’ has become an often-overused cliché over the years. Eat Pray Love unashamedly does not shy away from fully embracing this cliché. Despite the plot’s predictability, the film conveys a standard message: the need to break free from the mundane and pursue something more, a relevant message that we all may share come to the end of this pandemic.
Via the eyes of the film’s protagonist Elizabeth Gilbert, we get a glimpse of this desire to break free. Elizabeth is a woman who is torn between her secure life and her desire to live with passion rather than practicality. Her quest for meaning and reason takes her all over the world. From Italy to India and finally, to Indonesia, Elizabeth finds herself demonstrating a sense of liberation from life’s often restrictive social constraints throughout these destinations.
Many of us fantasise about the exciting experiences we will have while travelling. Regrettably, this is often limited to the realms of our imagination. Similarly, Walter Mitty, a professional daydreamer, is the focus of this comedy. Despite being surrounded by vivid adventures and people in the pages of the publication LIFE magazine for which he works, Walter can only be described as a man who blends seamlessly with the beige of his office lifestyle.
Walter is continually bombarded with messages about chasing life. Still, he can only play out his dreams in his amusing and creative mind. Walter’s reality and imagination become intertwined as he embarks on a life-changing trip to Scandinavia due to work commitments. Walter is able to let go of his rigidity and witness the surreal and exciting experiences he could only have imagined thanks to the beautiful and unforgiving landscapes of Iceland.
Walter’s dramatic creativity is perfectly matched by the intense atmosphere, which contrasts with his previous unremarkable routine. We can see how adventure has always been a part of him, waiting to be discovered. When this occurs, Walter can now understand life fully and learn to make the best of it. Although the film has flaws, it has always held a special place in my heart and in my watch list.
Inspired by a true story and an excellent book recalling the last years of Chris McCandless’s life, as he makes the decision to leave his current world behind and move to Alaska in search of what he believes is total freedom. Despite his willingness to separate himself from society, Chris meets people on his journey who provide him with much needed valuable life lessons and show that human connection can sometimes be both necessary and meaningful.
Regardless of how much enjoyment Chris derives from these encounters, his desire to assimilate himself into nature and be free of life’s constraints remains undeniable, driving Chris onwards towards his belief of true freedom actually is. This film will leave you in sheer awe of the confidence and bravery of the young man that sets out to leave all modern conveniences behind, to spend months living off the land in Alaska.
Into the Wild describes to us the consequences that come when pure wanderlust takes over, presenting us with a final thought that the adventure may not always be as romantic as it first seems; I won’t say more in fear of spoiling the beauty of this film.
I truly hope this list of films to help you explore the world, will help you to broaden your horizons and offer the perfect escape, I’m sure you probably have your own favourite adventure film, feel free to leave it down below.