Must-see Travel Films

Image by David Billings

Lost in Translation

Words by Charlotte Leung

Whenever you travel to a whole new city that has a different culture to where you are from, it is always a bit of a challenge. It can be understood that you will feel loneliness, especially when you are travelling alone in an environment that you don’t know and a place where you can’t speak the local languages. Therefore, you might be frightened of travelling to other places on your own. However, have no fear, there is a movie that can help you overcome this anxiety of travelling and instead, it will initiate your desire to travel on your own.

‘Lost In Translation’ is a movie about a girl, Charlotte, who travels to Tokyo with her husband on his business trip. However, while she is being ignored by him, due to his busy schedule, Charlotte meets the fading movie star Bob Harris, who is working in Tokyo. Before meeting each other, both Charlotte and Bob Harris have been struggling to fit into the culture and feel lonely because they don’t understand Japanese. After they meet each other they begin to build a strong friendship, as they seem to have a common background and similar interests. They hang out together, exploring the whole city and making their stay in Tokyo more interesting by meeting more friends, as well as immersing themselves into Japanese culture.

The first half of the movie reflects how most of us feel when travelling to an unfamiliar city. It shows that it is normal to find the situation difficult and want to go home, just like Charlotte and Bob. However, the second half of the movie shows that travelling to a new place is not as bad as our anxieties might make us think, if you throw yourself into exploring the place and its culture. Most of the time, you will be surprised, and your experience will be so much better than your expectations. Most importantly, you may meet new people and build new friendships in this incredible journey that you are afraid of at the beginning. Therefore, why not just pack your luggage now and go out and explore just like Charlotte and Bob in ‘Lost In Translation’.      

Eat, Pray, Love

Words by Zoe Williamson

Films can often make us want to step into the world that is being presented and experience the lives of the characters. Or they can inspire us to make changes and create new ways of looking at the world. With the current coronavirus pandemic, it can be seen that films are not just serving as a form of escapism, but as a way to travel across the world from our own homes. Eat Pray Love is a visually stunning movie that reflects these points, and the focus on the benefits of travelling is central to the narrative. It follows the character of Elizabeth, played by Julia Roberts, as she navigates away from her troubled divorce to a self-discovery journey. Based upon a true story, she spontaneously decides to embark on an exciting adventure to some of the most spectacular locations in Italy, India, and Bali.

It is certainly easy to see why the desire to travel would increase after watching this film. One of the key themes that flows throughout is connection, as Elizabeth creates many new friendships while travelling on her own. These bonds become an important part of the development of her character and meeting incredible people is the perfect example of what can happen on a solo travelling trip. This also highlights that travelling to new places can provide an opportunity to learn about different cultures and languages by engaging with the people around you. Moreover, the cinematography is astonishing, and this art of visual storytelling presents the countries in a beautiful light. From the beginning, establishing shots are contrasted with more intimate shots of the small, cobbled streets of Italy, immediately inviting the audience to fully immerse themselves into the story and experience these moments with Elizabeth. She can also be seen indulging in delicious Italian cuisine, exploring beautiful scenery, and ultimately gaining an abundance of new experiences on this globe-trotting adventure.

However, it is important to be mindful that this is a film, and for most people it’s not quite as easy to suddenly drop everything and afford to embark on a yearlong trip. Nonetheless, this film does illustrate some of the wonderful benefits of travelling, and perhaps these elements have become a source of inspiration for people to visit these places in the future.

The Motorcycle Diaries

Words by Alice Clifford

This film doesn’t just spark a need to visit South America, but it tells the fascinating story of a young Che Guevara exploring Latin America, starting in his hometown in Argentina and finishing in Venezuela. However, what starts off as a fun trip for him and his friend Alberto Granado, ends up opening Che’s eyes to the immense suffering that is happening across the continent, especially in the rural, indigenous areas. Through meeting locals along the way and volunteering at a leper colony, the two men witness the effects of injustice caused by political repression. The film shows numerous cases of people fleeing their homes due to their political opinions, or because the people in power have taken the land of families who have lived there for generations, just because they have the money to do so. Each new encounter breaks down Che’s preconceived ideas about the countries around him and leads him to start questioning the politics of the continent. These new-found ideas and realisations take him down the path that eventually sees him become the world-famous revolutionary Marxist guerrilla leader.

Che and Alberto’s way of travelling shows that the best way to travel is to fully immerse yourself in every place you go. The best memories these men have on their adventure are when they are with the locals. Their full immersion gives each individual they meet an identity and a personality that is so often taken away when you travel and just view communities as a whole. The film solidifies this by showing a still of each person and community they meet, with them all looking directly at the camara. In these scenes, each person is taking back their narrative and forcing the viewer to see them as individuals, which I found so powerful. It inspires a new form of travelling. Travelling with the aim to meet as many people as possible and hear their stories, in order to understand not just different cultures, but also people’s problems, joys and hopes.

Despite the film’s heavy content, it also shows the hilarious and loving friendship of these two men. Their elaborately made-up stories they tell to get food and shelter, the number of times their motorcycle, ‘The Mighty One’, breaks down and Alberto’s constant search for girls, add humour and a light heartedness to the movie.

Along with this, each scene is set amongst the most incredible back drop, taking the viewer on a journey through both urban and rural South America. The breath-taking Machu Pichu, the politically tense city of Bogotá and the immense amazon jungle are just a few examples of places they visit. From watching this film, I am sure it has inspired so many others, like myself, to follow the path paved by Che and Alberto, however, hopefully on a slightly better motorbike!