While border restrictions and the latest Covid-19 outbreak are keeping us in our bubbles for the time being, you can still look beyond the living room for inspiration. The power of film is one of the greatest outlets to satisfy your burning desire for travel, especially when you’re confined to the couch.
These seven brilliant pieces of globe-trotting cinema not only follow spiritual journeys and capture the value of leaving everything behind on quests for self-discovery, but thrust co-starring international destinations right into the spotlight.
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
This fabulous Australian road trip film follows two drag queens (Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce) and a transgender woman (Terence Stamp) as they journey from Sydney to Alice Springs in a bus named Priscilla. As the trio head across the outback to reach their cabaret gig, they encounter local characters, unforgiving landscapes and homophobia. Watch for the spectacular costumes and memorable 1970s soundtrack. Stream via Google Play and Apple TV.
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Into the Wild
This 2007 adventure recounts the true story of Chris McCandless who set off for a life in the wilderness. After abandoning his possessions and giving his savings to charity, McCandless moves between stunning landscapes across North America, including Lake Tahoe and the Colorado River, before hitchhiking to Alaska and taking shelter in an old school bus. Sean Penn’s adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s book was nominated for two Golden Globes and two Academy Awards. Stream via Google Play and Apple TV.
Impressions and one-liners flow in this largely improvised film from Michael Winterbottom. British comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon play exaggerated versions of themselves as they take a culinary tour of northern England. Sit down as a fly on the wall, with the beautiful countryside as your backdrop, as mouthwatering meals are enjoyed and the pair bombard each other with jokes and insults. Three sequels follow. Stream via Academy OnDemand.
Real-life father and son Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez play fictional family members in this drama, but it’s ancient Christian pilgrimage route Camino de Santiago that really shines. While retrieving his son who died walking the 800-kilometre trail from France to northern Spain, Sheen (an American doctor) decides to trek the same route to deal with grief. The pilgrimage is heavy on the emotions and breathtaking landscapes. Stream via Prime Video and Academy OnDemand.
The Lord of the Rings
Set aside 558 minutes for this three-part fantasy adventure series by New Zealand filmmaker Peter Jackson. The trilogy, following young hobbit Frodo and friends on their way to Mount Doom, was famously shot right here in New Zealand. Tongariro National Park, Putangirua Pinnacles, Skippers Canyon and Kepler Mire all feature – and when local travelling restrictions loosen, Kiwis can easily visit the sites in Middle Earth where major scenes were shot. Stream via Neon.
The Darjeeling Limited
Master of symmetry and eccentric characterisation, Wes Anderson, brings together Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman in this colour-loaded journey across India. The three dysfunctional brothers agree to take a spiritual train journey after their father’s death. The train trip takes a fictional route, but viewers will soak up visuals of the northwestern state of Rajasthan. It has all the visual and emotional quirks of an Anderson feature, plus cameo appearances from Angelica Huston, Natalie Portman and Bill Murray. Stream via Disney+.
Lost in Translation
Find out what happens when Scarlett Johansson (a college graduate) and Bill Murray (a washed up actor), befriend each other during a week in bustling Tokyo. The deadpan Sofia Coppola comedy uses the unlikely friendship to explore loneliness in the densely populated Japanese capital. Locations like the five-star Park Hyatt Tokyo, the neon lights of Kabukicho and the popular scramble crossing at Shibuya Station accompany the two leading stars. Stream via Google Play.