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Searching the internet for Wanderlust films will come up with a whole host of lists, almost all of which will include those three I’ve mentioned above, as well as some other staples, like Lost in Translation, Seven Years in Tibet and Out of Africa… and though I love each of those films, and agree that they did indeed inspire Wanderlust in me, I’d rather not simply regurgitate the words of others.
Instead, I present you to a short list of some of the best movies that make you want to travel… they certainly made me want to.
Okay, so perhaps not a traditional travel film, but one about four boys embarking on a journey which grabbed me at a particularly influential time in my life.
I first viewed this somewhere around the age of 10, when I was old enough to have an intense curiosity in great cinema and new experiences, but not yet old enough to want to hide or repress that curiosity from the social pressures of the classroom and playground. Effectively, I was in my most malleable state.
The freedom, adventure and simple pleasures experienced by Gordie and his friends made me want to have my own runaway escapades…
And it planted the seed for Wanderlust which would fully blossom in later years.
Also, the fact that Wil Wheaton was the spitting image of my brother at the same age probably went some way to influencing me as well.
From the sublime to the ridiculous… I can’t defend my selection of this unashamedly crass film (what else would expect from the director of the god-awful Hangover series) apart from that perhaps the first time I viewed it was when the social pressures of high school had their hooks fully into me.
That’s not to say that it doesn’t still have some funny moments, with Sean William Scott in full-on Stifler mode, Tom Green being as weird as ever and DJ Qualls stealing his scenes… but it’s definitely childish stuff.
However, the real magic is not in the toilet humour or boner gags. For me, the idea of a cross-country road trip tackling the length and breadth of the United States is one that has gripped me ever since… and one which I hope to realise next year.
Back to the sublime again?
This trio of films has taken quite an appropriate curve in the age-arc of their respective protagonists… schoolchildren to college kids to septuagenarian.
Again, it’s another US road trip story, though of pretty much the opposite kind. Here, the (real-life) story focuses on Alvin Straight and his journey to visit and hopefully reconcile himself with his estranged brother, whose health is ailing… on his only mode of transport – a lawnmower.
Though the motive and mode of transport are what gives the film meaning:
It is the little stories, fleeting acquaintances and unforeseen events along the way which really capture the feeling of travelling for me
I watched this whilst in Chile, mid-ramble through South America, and felt my belief in the positivity of what I was doing reaffirmed with every new anecdote.
Another film I watched while already on the road which kept the travel fires burning, Central Station is a delightful tale of a maturing spinster’s efforts to reunite an orphaned boy with his family.
To do so, she must travel with the boy (with whom she shares a love-hate relationship) from Rio de Janeiro to the tiny town of Bom Jesus in northeast Brazil.
A touching story of an unlikely friendship and giving important lessons about familial and societal responsibility.
It also captures perfectly the complete randomness, unpredictability and sometimes desperation of long-distance journeys
Of course, it also highlights the beauty of such trips, too.
Probably the most conventional but least well-known on this list, Cinema, Aspirins and Vultures is also one of the best movies to make you want to travel that I have seen.
Again set against the backdrop of the Brazilian north-eastern wilderness, the story follows Johann, a young backpacking entrepreneur as he sells aspirin to the tiny villages of rural Brazil, teaming up with an unlikely comrade in Ranulpho, whose dourness and complaining nature conceals a good heart.
Though the threat of WWII sometimes threatens to overshadow the journey, the fact that the story is set in the 1940s works to further accentuate the simplicity and poverty of the towns and villages that the pair visit, as well as the sheer foreignness of the settings.
With a trip to north-east Brazil planned for the impending World Cup, this film was a great option to stoke the fires of my travel passion.
Is it wrong to base your travel plans on a Disney film?
Not only my favourite kids film of all time, Up is also one of the main reasons why I decided to come to South America at all… and I’ve now been here for two years!
As soon as I clapped eyes on Paradise Falls – the animated version of the real-life Angel Falls in Venezuela – I resolved to go there myself.
Unfortunately, I still haven’t made it, due to a mix of logistical difficulties, political upheavals and just plain old life getting in the way… but I’m now in Bogotá, Colombia, the closest I have yet been. It’ll happen one day, Ellie!
Of course, my methods of travel haven’t been as outlandish as those of the characters in Up, though it is exactly this wackiness that makes me love the film:
Floating house? Check. Talking dog? Check. Giant bird named Kevin? Check. Small mailman? Check. Crazy murderous scientist marooned in the middle of nowhere? Check. It’s all there!
Paris was the first city I ever visited without the guardianship (or surveillance) of my parents and it’s at least in part down to this film.
A series of vignettes on the City of Love, each directed by a different person, the film has only two constants – the theme of amour, and the dramatic backdrop of Parisian life.
Though each director’s take is unique, they collectively manage to bring the city to life, illuminating every corner and back alley of the French capital and making it impossible not to want to go there.
As far as movies that make you want to travel to Europe go, Paris je t’aime is up there with the very best.
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