Best travel movies (ever!)
There are movies that make you say Ehi, what the hell am I doing here?!. Movies that grab your soul and never let you go. Movies that lead you to consult maps, check atlases and plan journeys on the edge of a constant, caffeinic excitement. Be it epic, dramatic or moving, to me a travel movie is fundamentally this: a stimulus to a new adventure, an evocative and mobilising spark. A propulsive pleasure you never get tired of.
Here we go with my personal selection of the best travel movies ever made. Enjoy!
# 1 – MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON
|Main actors||Patrick Bergin, Iain Glen|
|Places covered||Africa, Nile river|
This movie accompanies me since my adolescence. The story is that of Richard Francis Burton and John Hanning Speke, the two explorers – very different in character – who tried to locate the source of the Nile. Burton and Speke personify the prototypical African expedition of the colonial era. Inspiring.
# 2 – THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
|Main actors||Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Christopher Plummer|
|Places covered||Nuristan (old Kafiristan), in Afghanistan|
Connery and Caine, what a couple! This is a story of rock-solid friendship, epic adventure and unlimited challenge. A classic masterpiece inspired by the well-known novella by Rudyard Kipling. A real treasure I discovered in my late twenties.
# 3 – APOCALYPSE NOW
|Director||Francis Ford Coppola|
|Main actors||Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, Frederic Forrest, Albert Hall, Larry Fishburne, Sam Bottoms|
Is Apocalypse Now a travel movie? Yes, it is. Going up the Nung River with the top-secret mission to terminate Colonel Walter E. Kurtz, Captain Willard and his crew travel into the horror and through time encountering an extraordinary gallery of characters. The horror indeed.
# 4 – KON-TIKI
|Director||Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg|
|Main actors||Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen, Andres Baasmo Christiansen, Odd-Magnus Williamson, Agnes Kittelsen|
|Places covered||Pacific Ocean|
Polynesia was first reached by… people from South America! Well, probably not, but the point is: was it possible for pre-Colombian South Americans to navigate so far? The movie narrates the enterprise carried out by a group of five men led by Thor Heyerdahl in 1947: the navigation from Peru to Polinesia with a balsawood raft (and Thor couldn’t even swim!).
# 5 – MOSQUITO COAST
|Main actors||Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren, River Phoenix|
|Places covered||Central America|
Can an American family start a new life in a remote corner of Belize? Leave in an abandoned village sandwiched between the river and a deep rain-forest with no electricity, no money, and no comfort at all? Yes, answers Allie Fox. Brilliant and tyrannical at the same time, Allie leads his life and that of his family on the verge of complete annihilation. A must-see.
# 6 – INTO THE WILD
|Main actors||Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, Jena Malone, Catherine Keener|
|Places covered||USA, Alaska|
The two-years roaming of Alexander Supertramp (alias Cristopher McCandless) through the US and his quest for humanity. After watching this you’ll put Alaska on your travel list. I can’t get tired of this movie.
# 7 – THE SUMMIT
|Places covered||K2 (Pakistan/China)|
I don’t climb and I can’t say that this movie will make me start climbing in the future, but this documentary helped me to understand something of the mountaineering world. Thrilling and beautifully reconstructed (lot of solid reenactment). From the 1988 book Touching the void by Joe Simpson.
# 8 – TOUCHING THE VOID
|Main actors||Brendan Makey, Nicholas Aaron, Ollie Ryall|
|Places covered||Siula Grande (Peru)|
2008, 1st August. 11 climbers die on K2 (8,611 metres). The chain of events that took place that day is complex and not everything has been cleared of all interpretations. This touching documentary tries to explain what happened.
# 9 – ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD
Antarctica is extreme and extremely acute are Herzog’s eyes in describing in what kind of universe scientists and workers in Antarctica gravitate. Subtly humorous and ‘functionally’ poetic, Herzog offers us an incredible account of the contact between humans and polar nature.
# 10 – THE SHELTERING SKY
|Main actors||John Malkovich, Debra Winger,|
|Places covered||Morocco, Algeria|
An extraordinary Bertolucci’s movie with the masterful award-winning cinematography by Vittorio Storaro.
It was merely that the institution of tourist travel in this part of the world, never well-developed in any case, had been, not interrupted, but utterly destroyed by the war. And so far there had been no tourists to start it up again. In a sense this state of affairs pleased him, it made him feel that he was pioneering […].( Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky)