We’ve written posts about big trips, weekend trips and day trips. This post discusses how to take a trip for about two hours–all within the convenience of your own home…aka movie travel. I don’t know about you, but certain movies have the ability to suck me in and for the length of that movie, I feel like I have been transported to a different time and place. I re-watch certain movies when I want to be happy, laugh or feel better about the world. There is also a select set of movies that I watch when I want to feel like I am in a different country. Below are my nine favorites, in no particular order.
Note: these are not all particularly great movies. But they all have great scenery and take place in a foreign location.
Movie Travel #1: Under the Tuscan Sun
This movie is all about a woman who visits Tuscany and spontaneously decides to move there. Lucky for her, but also lucky for us because we, as viewers, get to take part in all four seasons of this beautiful part of Italy. Besides the lushness of the Tuscan countryside, the movie also treats us to Florence, Siena and Positano on the Amalfi coast. Diane Lane must have had a real hard time filming this one. This movie, maybe more than any other, can soothe my soul when I am feeling anxious, simply because of the beautiful scenery.
Movie Travel #2: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
This movie might just have it all: history, travel, Harrison Ford and Sean Connery. Seriously, what more can you ask for? As he fights the Nazis and searches for the Holy Grail, Indy takes us along to Venice, the Rhine region of Germany and Petra, Jordan. That last one is the reason this movie makes the list. I still remember the first time I saw this movie as a kid; they round the corner and Petra is there, incredibly carved right into the side of the cliff. I thought there was no way a place like that could really exist. But exist it does and someday, I’m going to see it.
Movie Travel #3: The Way
In The Way, Martin Sheen walks the pilgrimage of the Camino de Santiago across northern Spain. Along his journey, we are treated to the green hills and mountains without any of the hard work of hiking.
Movie Travel #4: Casino Royale/Last Holiday
You might be wondering why these two movies share the same line. They are, after all, very different. If you watch either of them, though, you can get the same fix if you are craving some Czech Republic. James Bond and Queen Latifah both enjoy the scenery of a magical little town called Karlovy Vary. In Karlovy Vary, the buildings’ facades are colorful and stately. There aren’t many of them, though, so the town remains quaint and charming, and has remained that way since the 1300s.
Movie Travel #5: Chocolat
This movie is very evocative. A beautiful woman arrives in a beautiful French town and meets the beautiful Johnny Depp and, oh yeah, there is a lot of chocolate made and eaten. The town of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain is one of 155 villages the French (they’ve got to be very tough critics, right?) named Les Plus Beaux Villages de France. This translates to real pretty. Watch this movie if you want to be transported to the French countryside.
Movie Travel #6: The Painted Veil
This is not a happy movie. Let’s just get that right out in the open. It is set in China during a horrific cholera outbreak. People are hungry, angry and dying. Not pretty. How on earth did it make this list? Well, it happens to be filmed in Yizhou, a town in Southeastern China. In this part of China, the dominant feature of the landscape is the dramatic hills that arise out of nowhere. Karst topography is created when water eats away some of the limestone, leaving behind incredible hills. There’s a scene in the movie where the characters are floating down a river on a bamboo raft with the karst hills in the background. It is so incredible, it makes you forget how sad the movie is.
Movie Travel #7: The Man from Snowy River
This movie makes this list because it is B’s favorite and because it is filmed in Victoria, Australia. Victoria is a region in Southeastern Australia that has quite a diverse type of geography. But the part that puts this movie on the list is the high mountain area where the Snowy River flows, perfect for riding around on a horse.
Movie Travel #8: My Life in Ruins
In this movie, we are all invited to join a tour bus as it makes it way through the ruins of ancient Greece. We get to see many of the ruins, most famously the Acropolis in Athens. Another perk of this movie is the very accurate portrayal of the members of the tour group. (See our posts on groups. We had several versions of the characters on our travels.) At one point in the film, the tour director talks about why she loves the ruins. She says you can actually feel the energy coming from the ground at one temple and frankly, she sells me on it. I want to feel the energy of these ancient structures.
Movie Travel #9: Lara Croft Tomb Raider
Before I start describing this one, I feel it is important to remind you of the purpose of this list. It is not a list of my fave films–just films that let you travel without leaving home. Warning: this movie kinda blows. However, it might be worth the pain to see some of the amazing locations little Lara gets to visit. What is supposed to be somewhere else is actually Iceland. As we might have mentioned in other posts, most things about Iceland are wonderful and lovely and magical. The glaciers in Lara Croft Tomb Raider alone should inspire you to visit the Land of Ice and Fire.
What really puts this movie on the list, though, are the scenes in Cambodia. The movie takes us to the incredible ruins of Angkor Wat in Siem Riep. The Angkor Wat temple complex is the largest religious monument in the world and is full of intricate stone carvings, jungle and monkeys. Every time I see this movie I vow to visit this incredible place in real life one day.
Well there you have it. You can visit all sorts of amazing places without having to have a valid passport. (Although you should always have a valid passport. Always.) Let us know if you have any other favorite travel movies that should be on this list!
Thanks so much for the list. I’ve seen most of them, now I think because of the beautiful scenery I may purchase some of them. I’m going to start with “My life in ruins”
I love this- what a great list! I especially like the shout-out for the Man From Snowy River– classic film and wonderful scenery. My favorite part is the slo-mo scene where Craig takes off like a boss down the steep mountain after the horses, while everyone just watched him. Great post.
PS: I may just watch Lara Croft Tomb Raider, now. Thank you for that.
PPS: Walter Mitty and Hector and the Search for Happiness both have amazing scenery, too.
Thanks for your comments Aunt Patti and Gretch!
Aunt P- I hope you enjoyed the tour through Greece. You’ll have to go there next!
Gretch- those are great suggestions for this list. And good movies to boot! The scenery in Walter Mitty is spectacular….have we mentioned we love Iceland?!?
I love these movies! Chocolat has always been one of my favorite. Good picks