Our top pick of inspiring films to get you on the move.
Urth HQ | AUSTRALIA
When you want to get away from it all but require that extra push to make things happen, sometimes watching an inspiring film can give you the kick you need. Here are 15 inspiring films that will get you out of the city.
Film: The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
Location: South America
This poignant film follows a young Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara and Alberto Granado as they embark on a motorcycle trip across South America. Breathtaking scenery is on tap — think Machu Picchu, Patagonia and Atacama Desert, amongst others. And the soundtrack is pretty dreamy, too. It’s certainly gritty in parts — you get a glimpse of the vast differences in wealth and social status across Latin America. Easily in my top ten best films ever.
Film: Into the Wild (2007)
Instead of pursuing a career after graduation, ace student Christopher McCandless hitchhikes to Alaska to experience life in the wilderness. Essentially a film about self-discovery and being authentic, it also focuses on living the travelling dream, being spontaneous and stepping outside your comfort zone. It’s got some awesome scenery to lust after, too.
Film: The Beach (2000)
Location: Koh Phi Phi (Thailand)
Leonardo DiCaprio stars as American backpacker Richard, whose search for paradise leads him to a secret beach in Thailand. The scenery in this film has ensured the location has earned a place on many a bucket list. In fact, so many tourists have flocked to this beach on the back of the film that Thai authorities have since closed it, to give it a well-earned rest.
Film: Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002)
When three Aborigine girls are plucked from their homes to live as servants, they plan their escape. They return home on a three-month voyage, on foot, via a rabbit-proof fence that dissects Australia. Incredibly moving, I was glued to this film when I first watched it. You also get to appreciate just how vast Australia’s outback is.
Film: One Week (2008)
After a crushing health diagnosis, Ben Tyler sets off on his motorbike for a week’s long journey across Canada. Although the film ponders the meaning of life, you can’t help but be drawn in by the beguiling scenery en-route. For me, this film is a poignant reminder that life is short and we should grab adventures when we can.
Film: Forrest Gump (1994)
This feel-good movie is easily watchable time and again. Plus, I think it portrays really well how someone with disabilities can still make their travelling dreams become reality. When Forrest embarks on his epic three-year trek, the film showcases some awesome shots of America, including islands off South Carolina that represent the Vietnam scenes.
Film: Tracks (2013)
Location: Western Australia
For those wanting some inspiration to escape daily life, this film offers all the right ingredients. It tells the story of one woman who treks across Western Australia for 1,700 miles with a handful of camels and a dog. You can’t fault the stunning scenery, and it gives solo female travellers impetus to get exploring.
Film: Touching The Void (2003)
Part-documentary, part-adventure film, this truly inspirational flick details the exploits of two friends who scale the summit of the Siula Grande mountains in Peru. It’s a tale of exploration in the extremes of nature. But, when life or death decisions have to be made when descending the peak, it also highlights the strength of friendships. You might not want to follow in their footsteps, but it could give you the urge to tackle less ambitious climbs.
Film: The Endless Summer II (1994)
Location: The beach
The second Endless Summer film from legendary surf cinematographer Bruce Brown. Endless Summer II follows two lordy young surfers from Australia to Africa and anywhere there’s swell in between. A look at the evolution of surfing from 1966 to 1994. An inspiration and instigator for so many of the current surfers you might know, it’s interesting to watch the film now in light of how far surfing has evolved since the mid-nineties. Despite that, the film has aged well and is undoubtedly a classic steeped in 90’s saturated tones and golden hues.
Film: Easy Rider (1969)
Location: The motorways of the USA
The “new Hollywood” hippie, bikie, long-haired highways of freedom on two wheels film. A film that threw Jack Nicholson into the orbit from a supporting role and the best piece of directing Dennis Hopper was to achieve. Boasting a soundtrack made up of mainly already released rock music costing 1 million dollars, more than double the production budget of the film, paving the way for the compilation soundtrack. Whilst representative of an attitude held passionately by many, at the time young, baby boomers, Easy Rider remains a travel inspiration for many to hit the road, navigating its way through conversations on cultural divides along the way.
Film: The Way (2010)
Location: Spain and France
In this film, a man treks the El Camino de Santiago trail in Spain in honour of his son who died traversing the same walk. At first glance, I thought this movie might veer on the depressing side, but it was anything but this. By showing the different interactions the man had on his travels, and how he was forced out of his comfort zone, it highlights how travelling can make you become resilient and stronger.
Film: The Way Back (2010)
Location: Siberia and India
The plot focuses on seven escapee prisoners who travel 4,500 miles from Siberia to India, on foot. Life is tough — it’s winter, food is thin on the ground and the prisoners are strangers to each other. The scenery is both wild and beautiful. But, what shines through is the strength of humans and their ability to trust each other when faced with adversity.
Film: Wild (2014)
Location: Pacific Crest Trail
Personal tragedy often ignites someone’s quest to travel, and this film is a case in point. Reece Witherspoon features as a recently bereaved woman who treks 1,100 miles along the famous Pacific Crest Trail that spans from Mexico to Canada. It’s certainly a travel flick with lots of landscapes thrown in, but it also highlights how travel can make you think clearer and accept difficult situations.
Film: Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
Although essentially a rom-com, this film is worth watching for the majestic Italian scenery alone. The theme focuses on a recently divorced woman who says goodbye to her old life and buys a villa in Tuscany. All the things you associate with Tuscany are on show — rolling hills, vineyards and delicious cuisine. That’s impetus enough to get your bags packed, I reckon.
Film: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
Location: Under the Sea
The first Wes Anderson film that broke away from the directors mould. Performing poorly at the time in comparison to his other films and now a cult classic, The Life Aquatic is an adventure over and under the sea. The film is cartoonish, at times ridiculous, with a meandering plot, somewhat a Bowie tribute and overall a curious masterpiece. Follow Oceanographer Steve Zissou and his team of adventurers, deep-sea divers and documentary filmmakers across the world to hunt a Jaguar Shark. The film also features a selection of David Bowie covers from Brazilian artistic maestro Seu Jorje (who plays Pele in the film) and a variation on music from Australian composer Sven Libaek originally made for underwater documentary series Inner Space.
If these inspiring films have put you in the mood for travel, why not also take a look at our favourite, inspiring photography documentaries?