5 Travel Movies to Watch This Season

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The present circumstances has caught us all by surprise. On the brighter side, this is quite a good time to go back to things that we had always wanted to do, but never had the time for. Few things that this surreal phase has taught me is to never keep anything for tomorrow. Like spending those extra minutes that our loved ones always ask for, sharing happiness and few moments of laughter with them.

And, if there is one thing that I miss during this period, it is certainly traveling to a new destination, exploring the art and culture of that region, the language, and the local cuisine.
For a wayfarer who longs to travel, but cannot do so at this time, here is a list of my favorite movies to help you reminisce some of your incredible journeys.

So, go on. Relive your travel memories.

1. Midnight in Paris (2011)

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Imagine entering a portal that instantly takes you to some of the greatest artists and creators in our history—Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Rene Descartes, Salvador Dali, Shakespeare, Dante. Midnight in Paris manages to take you on one such enthralling ride.

When the clock strikes midnight, this young Hollywood scriptwriter and novelist in making, played by Owen Wilson, finds himself transported to Années folles—the Paris of 1920s that has just turned into a melting pot of art, poetry, and culture and breeding ground for creativity and economic prosperity after the WWI.

The night turns young with appearances of Ernest Hemingway, Salvador Dali, Gertrude Stein, Picasso, Scott Fitzgerald, and all other geniuses in the scene. The protagonist finds himself caught up in the middle of Dali’s surrealism, Picasso’s art and discussions about Jean Cocteau and Coco Chanel.

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Salvador Dali, portrayed by Adrien Brody, in an intense discussion about his surreal art

As with any Woody Allen’s creation, the subject of political climate, art, culture and literature seem to be a recurring theme, working behind the scenes, not that I am complaining. Allen is one film maker who seem to have an impeccable flair and penchant for art. 

He explores the complexity of human relationships; perversion, adultery, tragedy, infidelity that often accompany fragmented human relations and weaves them into his narrative with finesse.

With so many great characters and portrayal of an era that saw emergence of movements like surrealism, avant-garde, and birth of popular culture. This movie brings us an air of nostalgia, of a golden time, that has been captured through its delightful storytelling.

And, who would mind getting on a time-travel machine if one gets to spend few minutes with the ghosts of our literary past?

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Owen Wilson finds himself transported to the 1920s, among the literati and the artists

2. Karwaan (2018)

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Now this one comes like a breath of fresh air, sweeping me off my feet with its light-hearted story-telling. Amidst love, laughter, tragedy and loss, the movie manages to beautifully capture emotions without making the narration overly intense.

Starring in it are our much-loved Irfan Khan; Dulquer Salman; and Mithila Palkar—this trio wonderfully balances their roles and their camaraderie with a natural ease, like long-lost friends uniting on a road trip.

From Bengaluru to Ooty to Kumarakom, Kottayam and Kochi, the movie takes you on a journey of winding roads, verdant landscapes, and tropical terrains. If this was not enough, Prateek Kuhad’s songs adds to the charm while they play in the background. If you have not yet discovered this young talent, you must. Right away!

And if anything, Karwaan has inspired me to take that long-awaited trip to Kerala and explore this beautiful land, soon, when we come out of this unprecedented situation and our lives go back to normal.

Until then, unwind yourself on a Friday evening, sit back, relax and enjoy this heart-warming tale.

3. Cairo Time (2009)

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Caught between desire, ambition, freedom and search for love, romance blossoms between Juliette and Tareq in a silent undercurrent. They cruise along the Nile, take a walk on the streets and souks of Cairo, attends a wedding in the city of Alexandria, while their fondness for each other grows, acknowledging in subtle glances and conversations.

As if time has slowed down, Cairo Time unfolds the story in an unhurried pace taking us on a stroll through its chaos, culture, music and the countryside. In its gentle, languid pace, the movie has certainly made an impression on my mind.

4. Seven Years in Tibet (1997)

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The mesmerizing rendition by the musical prodigy Yo-Yo Ma and the maestro John Williams shall transport you to a distant land, surrounded by cold, lofty mountains. The sound of hauntingly beautiful violin, the wailing cello and the harp, and all other instruments, work in unison to create a symphony that never fails to evoke emotions in me, time and again.

Seven Years in Tibet had a profound effect on me. Like an epiphany, it appeared in my life, awakening my spirit and stroking my love for mountains. I experienced a shift in my inner world, something quite spiritual. As I watched this movie, my mind felt clearer and calmer. And for that I have no words to define.

11 years since I first watched it, Seven Years in Tibet still arouses that stillness and peace in me as it did back then.

Heinrich Harrer, the Austrian mountaineer, chronicled about his years spent in Tibet, the everlasting friendship that he forged with the Dalai Lama, in his book Seven Years in Tibet. This movie recounts that tale of friendship, of adventures, of pain, and of finally arriving at a place of personal and spiritual oneness. Like any great piece of artwork or creativity, a good movie can leave you with a long-lasting impact on your life. And very few can manage to do that. This for me is one of them.

Here is one of my favorite scenes from the movie—a conversation between the Dalai Lama and Heinrich Harrer, when the former asks the latter (played by Brad Pitt), what is it that he loves about mountains.

To which, Harrer says: “The absolute simplicity. That’s what I love. When you’re climbing your mind is clear and free from all confusions. You have focus. And suddenly the light becomes sharper, the sounds are richer and you’re filled with the deep, powerful presence of life. I’ve only felt that one other time.”

Dalai Lama: When?

Heinrich Harrer: In your presence, Kundun

5. The Way Back (2010)

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The protagonist of this movie reminds me of Viktor Frankl, the Holocaust survivor who wrote one of the most revered books of all times Man’s Search for Meaning.

Of grit, of resilience and of indomitable spirit, an unshakable will to live life, to survive for your loved ones—The Way Back shows the strength of Siberian Gulag prisoners, who set on foot to traverse 4000 miles across Mongolia, China and India and finally return home to their freedom.

Like Viktor Frankl, Janusz imagines his wife’s face, the door of his house, his way back home, giving him the courage and the life force to keep moving, despite the harsh conditions, unpredictable terrains and inhospitable territories.

To even think of anything as isolated as Gulag camps, surrounded by an unforgiving climate, hostile land and no sighting of any soul for thousands of miles, gives me shudders.

The movie had me for its beautiful cinematography, brilliant landscape visuals and not to forget Janusz’s kindness and will to get his freedom.

The Way Back is definitely one of the best travel movies I have seen so far.


Some other recommendations:

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Under the Tuscan Sun

Trip to Italy


Image sources: imdb, wikipedia

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