It’s fair to say there’s a particular film blowing up right now that’s about to give everyone some serious inspiration to visit it’s location… and it got me thinking about all the places I’ve never really been bothered about but suddenly yearned to go to after watching a film. There are some films where the location is such a starring part of the film that it’s almost a character in and of itself because it leaves such an impression on the audience. These are a few films I love that left me with a serious case of wanderlust for the places featured…
LA LA LAND – LOS ANGELES, US
La La Land is being lauded for a whole heap of reasons but it’s dreamy depiction of Los Angeles, California would be one of the reasons I’d put it at the top of a recommendations list. The sets and locations depicting downtown LA have been given a nostalgic Hollywood feel that’s perfectly in keeping with the tone of the film and it all just LOOKS SO BEAUTIFUL. The only way I can describe it is as if the film has literally been filmed through rose tinted glasses and somehow you can almost feel the hazy warmth of the city through the screen. If somehow you manage to resist the charms of La La Land, denying the pull to put LA on your “to visit” list will require a real battle of willpower.
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS – PARIS, FRANCE
Despite the anti-Woody Allen aesthetic I try to live life by Midnight is so nearly perfect that I can’t resist it. The film is a real celebration of Paris in its golden era and the bohemians that resided there (Hemingway, Dali, Scott Fitzgerald all make an appearance). It’s just a joy from start to finish and Paris is as much of a character in it as any… in fact it’s arguably the most important character and definitely the big love of Owen Wilson’s character’s life.
SIGHTSEERS – NORTHERN ENGLAND
Okay so if you’ve never heard of Sightseers and you’ve ever been on pretty much any holiday in the UK go and watch it now. Seriously drop what you’re doing. This is a tribute to all of those holidays you spent visiting weird historical attractions and museums in the pouring rain before returning to your campervan where you try not to kill the people you’re sharing the confined space with. Yes this film is about a couple who go on a campervan holiday in the UK… which takes a terrible turn. It’s hilarious and you’ll appreciate it hugely if you’re British, probably even if you’ve never holidayed in a campervan. If this doesn’t make you want to visit the UK’s Pencil Museum then nothing will.
A GOOD YEAR – SOUTHERN FRANCE
It’s funny that this is not a hugely talked about film or particularly amazing film in it’s own right but I see it mentioned all of the time of travel film lists… and that’s because there’s genuinely not another film I’ve seen that made me want to visit the south of France more. After watching this I wanted to move to France and live in a vineyard despite the fact this has never appealed to me before and I’m not even a big fan of wine? Maybe it has something to do with the fact I am always seeking to channel Marion Cotillard in my life (have you noticed yet how often her films appear in this list? Shhh)
HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE – NEW ZEALAND
Perhaps it’s a bit strange that a film mostly about a boy and his foster father who go on the run from child care services and live in the woods would inspire you to visit a place but New Zealand has done it again. Actually, name me a film New Zealand features in that doesn’t make you want to visit. The landscape is so imposing and stand out that it ends up impacting every film shot there.
THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY – ICELAND
No surprises that Walter Mitty boosted Icelandic tourism upon it’s release. Although in the movie Ben Stiller supposedly travels to Greenland to seek out a lost photograph from an explorer, the location shots were actually done in Iceland. Try to watch the scene where he cycles through the incredible Icelandic landscape to the sound of native band Of Monsters and Men without developing a severe case of wanderlust. Side note, this movie also features a scene where Kristin Wiig sings Space Oddity… sold it, didn’t I?
MACBETH – SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS
One of my favourite adaptations of Shakespeare I feel like Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth has been so overlooked since it’s release. The bleakness and majesty of the Scottish Highlands are such a huge presence in the play and this version puts them at the centre stage. The cinematography and use of colours (mainly monochrome except for occasional very bright red) make this film so visually spectacular it’s like a work of art. Scotland has never looked so moody and dramatic.
LOST IN TRANSLATION – TOKYO, JAPAN
Japan is such a key part of Lost in Translation as it serves to reinforce the feelings of isolation and loneliness between Bill Murray and Scarlett Johannson’s characters who are not just struggling to make sense of their own lives but also the completely different culture they find themselves in. Watching their adjustment is undeniably a lot of fun (or as much fun as you can reasonably have with such a melancholic film) as they face the chaotic streets of Tokyo, experience a Japanese karaoke bar and take the bullet train past Mount Fuji. Just talking about it makes me want to book a plane ticket.
AUSTRALIA – AUSTRALIAN OUTBACK
The clue’s in the name as Australia the country is the most important aspect of Australia the film. The story involves aspects of all kind of Australian past and present including indigenous culture, the stolen generations and the hardship of life in the rural outback but it’s filmed in typical Baz Luhrmann style that makes everything look incredible. Of course life on a cattle station is romanticised beyond belief… to the point where you’ll be itching to pack your bags and start droving cattle across the Never Never. Having visited a few cattle stations and been driven across miles of outback I must admit the illusions given to me by this film were promptly shattered BUT I discovered a different kind of magic to outback Australia to replace them… and I probably wouldn’t even have had any desire to go there if it wasn’t for this film.
THE BEACH – PHI PHI ISLANDS, THAILAND
The island where this film is shot is actually so beautiful that regardless of the terrifying Lord of the Flies aspects of the story if it were true, I’d probably still risk it to go there. Apparently I’m not the only one as in a weird moment of life-reflecting-art many people now claim the island is being spoiled by its popularity and has become too commercialised… exactly what the group are terrified of happening in the film if word gets out about their little slice of paradise.
What movies have you seen that inspired you to travel? Although it’s not on this list I will admit to being one of those people whose desire to visit Bali was inspired by Eat, Pray, Love… and if you want to find out how that went then you can read this.