Sightseers: A sublime ranking of the most breathtaking travel movies
Cinema and travel have one thing in common (well, they probably have more but nevermind) – they both broaden the mind. The power of cinema can show you people and places that you never thought imaginable! And with travel you can actually legit go anywhere in the world and see whatever the hell it is you want to see IRL. Groundbreaking, right?
Before you pack a small bag, hand in the notice on your apartment, and book a flight to Burundi, let’s take a look at ten films that show you some of the serious beauty of this fair planet.
10. The Darjeeling Limited
Following the death of their father, three brothers (Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, and Adrien Brody) embark on a train journey across India with the intention of finding themselves and each other. Wes Anderson‘s (Isle of Dogs) film takes in the glorious chaos of India (as well as the glorious chaos of family) before ending as all good family tales do – at a convent high up in the Himalayas.
Alexander Payne‘s beautifully observed black and white film sees an elderly Bruce Dern (The Hateful Eight) return home to see his friends and family, believing that he’s won it big on the “sweepstakes.” When he gets home, he finds things a little different to how he was hoping, proving once again that it’s sometimes not the destination that counts – it’s the journey.
8. Easy Rider
Dennis Hopper‘s groundbreaking film changed the face of the indie film back when it was first released in 1969, but as well as its new way of doing things, it also showed an often unseen side of America and the American Dream. From its open highways and picturesque waterholes to the New Orleans Mardi Gras, Easy Rider is a “trip” worth taking.
7. Lost in Translation
Sofia Coppola‘s film brings together two lost souls under the sky of one of the Earth’s most alien cities – Tokyo. The film uses the (at times) oppressive setting of the Japanese capital to highlight the loneliness of its protagonists. While you’re wrapped up in the stories of the film’s two leads (Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray), you’ll also take a few seconds to gaze around with them and drop your jaw at how incredible Tokyo is.
6. American Honey
Andrea Arnold followed up the relative flop of Wuthering Heights by doing something altogether different. It follows a teenage girl as she leaves her dead end existence in small town America to go on an Odyssey-like journey of travel and self-discovery. And though the Odyssey itself only really takes in other small towns in America, it is a truly great modern road movie that again shows you parts of the world you may never see in person.
5. The Beach
Danny Boyle‘s film (based on Alex Garland’s book of the same name) may have been seen as a bit of a flop after its initial release, but since then it’s garnered a somewhat cult following. It’s no surprise either, as the film takes in some truly beautiful parts of the world, most notably the crystal clear waters of Thailand’s Ko Phi Phi Lee.
Jean-Marc Vallee‘s film follows Cheryl (Reese Witherspoon) as she sets out alone to hike the Pacific Crest Trail – one of America’s longest and toughest thru-hike trails. As you might imagine, you get to see some of the beautiful landscapes of an almost forgotten America while also watching quite a good story about one woman’s journey into self-discovery.
3. Encounters at the End of the World
More than perhaps any other filmmaker in the world, Werner Herzog‘s films have taken us everywhere. From Death Row to the top of a mountain in Peru, and all the way to the literal ends of the world – Antarctica – in this 2009 documentary.
Herzog travels out to one of the few places on Earth that can genuinely say it’s “untouched by human hands,” and while there, he also explores the minds of the people who are happy to pack up everything and go and live on a research lab that’s at least a 5,000 mile walk to the nearest half decent underground spoken word and poetry night.
2. The Motorcycle Diaries
Walter Salles’s glorious imagining of how Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara’s younger years may have looked is a beautiful movie that, like all the best films on this list do, show you parts of the world that you might not ever get the chance to see in person.
Guevara (Gael Garcia Bernal) and his friend Alberto Granado (Rodrigo De la Serna) travel from Brazil to Peru, taking in pretty much a whole continent on their way before arriving in a Peruvian Leper Colony. See, how likely were you to ever see a Peruvian Leper Colony in real life?
1. Embrace of the Serpent
Set in the tropical rainforests of Colombia, Embrace of the Serpent takes its viewers on a sublime journey that would be worth watching even if the film itself wasn’t brilliant (it still is though). The film is a visual treat but it is one also laden with soul crushing sadness.
We see how Westerners have gone to the jungle and rainforests over time and destroyed its natural ecosystem, taking with both hands all that we could carry while only leaving behind useless things like Western religion and the grim promise of a new McDonald’s burger in its place.