Into the land of dreams – great travel films of all times

This is the second guest post ever on The Wander life, by travel blogger extraordinaire Joe, who shows a flair for film criticism as well. I added my favorite travel movie of all times at the bottom! Enjoy!

If you’re a traveller, what’s the next best thing to travelling? Daydreaming about it? Writing about? Talking about it? For me, it’s watching other people doing it on the big screen! While travel can form the main theme of a film, most of the time it’s an implicit feature which helps develop the plot and characters. Sitting neatly in the background (often literally, as the backdrop) the action and experience of travelling in films can be powerful and expressive, portraying places in a manner that can sometimes makes them seem more wonderful or mysterious than in real life.

Take for example, 127 Hours Starring James Franco, a film certainly not billed as a ‘travel adventure’, but certainly one in which the landscape is a star – the barren, dusty Utah canyons reflect the desolation of Franco’s character as he struggles to make a life-saving decision. Of course there are films out there which are specifically focused on the act of travelling, although very few have achieved critical or commercial acclaim.
Here are some of the biggest (but not necessarily the best) travel-themed posts out there.
1. The Beach

It would be foolish to suggest that The Beach single-handedly rejuvenated tourism in Thailand, but there’s no doubt that the idyllic utopia depicted in the picture inspired thousands of young backpackers to visit the country. A thin plot about tourists disrupting the natural habitat and traditional ways of life is eclipse by beautiful shots Phi Phi island that make you want to jump on a flight to Phuket.

2. Stand by Me

Travel on a small scale is the order of the day in this must-see, as four young friends set off in search of a dead-body. The self-discovery aspect however, as the friends learn about themselves and each other will be familiar to anyone who’s been camping as a child, or round the world as an adult.

3. Paradise Lost

Most of the films on this list make the viewer want to go travelling, not Paradise Lost; this horror flick set in Brazil plays on the insecurities about being stranded in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, and the locals are unwilling to help.

4. Apocalypto

Far less a film about tourism, rather one that showcases the majestic Amazon rainforest and its ancient inhabitants. The film follows a small tribe, disrupted, sentenced to death (from which they escape) and then stalked through the undergrowth , capped off with a very knowing, thought-provoking ending.

5. The Tourist

Arguably cinema’s two biggest heart-throbs, Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie star in this distinctly average romp featuring a contrived plot where Depp’s hapless, bumbling character gets wrapped up in a murder case involving the Italian mafia. Thankfully, the fact that most of the film takes place in stunning Venice makes up for every other aspect of the beloved stars` faux-pas.
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6. Lost in Translation

This simple, beautiful love story, charted Bill Murray’s business trip to Japan. Drinking alone at the hotel bar he meets Scarlett Johansson’s character and the begin a transitory yet deep romantic encounter. The film is as much about Murray’s character discovering Japan as it is about him discovering himself, and Sofia Coppola really captures the perplexing experience of being stranded in a totally alien culture.

7. Into the Wild

Perhaps the ultimate backpackers` movie, this is the tale of a young man from a wealthy family who leaves his privileged life behind to travel the world. The scenery really is the star in this epic flick which showcases some stunning vistas.


Joe is a travel blogger who would prefer to be actuallu travelling than watching films about travelling, but he can certainly recommend this lot for a rainy day (with the exception of The Tourist!). Joe is looking forward to his next Mexico holidays where he won’t have time for watching any films! You can follow his exploits at Total Travel Blog.

Thank you Joe, for a great post.

Last, but not least, here is a clip from my favorite travel movie of all times. It´s Viaggio in Italia by Roberto Rosellini, starring Ingrid Bergman. It´s a movie that takes place between Napoli, Capri and Pompeii, in the South of Italy. I have been to all these places, and the fact that Rosellini managed to use every tourist spot and sight to organically help him tell the compelling story of the disolution of a marriage (which, well, isn´t such in the end). I have never seen another movie where the place in which it takes place had been used so well dramatically; Bergman seeing the remains of a couple that was buried under the ashes of Vesubius in Pompeii, and feeling the loss of love right there, the use of Capri as the husband´s escape from the marriage into a life of luxury, superficiality and casual affairs, even the images of Bergman seeing antique Roman statues in a museum is rendered in a way that makes it absolutely relevant for the character´s inner voyage. All in all, a fabulous movie, and if you haven´t been to the South of Italy, it will surely make you crave those sights and those experiences, minus the broken hearts. This clip that takes place on the streets of Napoli. It´s in Italian, but I had to translate some of the last dialogue for you, because it´s brilliant.

Why do we torture each other?….

Tell me that you love me./If I say it, do you swear you won´t take advantage of me/Yes. I wanna hear you say it/

I´ll say it, I love you.

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