One of the most beautiful aspects of watching a film is its ability to transport you to another time, place, or mentality. This also means that while you may find yourself stuck at home, movies can help you travel to another part of the world and experience different cultures. Some movies are so spectacular at doing this that they might inspire you to do the same in your own life. Here are some noteworthy films that might spark your sense of wanderlust:
The Before Trilogy (1995, 2004, 2013)
Location: Vienna; Paris; Messinia, Greece
Richard Linklater’s iconic trilogy somehow manages to make the romantic appeal of Europe even stronger than it already is. With each film set in a different European city, the audience gets wrapped up in the conversations of Céline (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) as they stroll through the streets of Vienna, Paris, and Messinia. Each film is separated by a nine-year period and shows a different stage in Jesse and Céline’s relationship. Perhaps some of the most immersive films set in Europe, these films will make you want to explore every hidden crevice of these cities with someone you love.
Call Me By Your Name (2017)
Location: Northern Italy (Crema)
Luca Guadagnino’s 2017 beloved arthouse hit was not only a huge critical and awards success, but it made everyone want to spend their summers lounging in the Italian sun, biking through the countryside, and falling in love. The film follows Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet) as he pines after Oliver (Armie Hammer), an American grad student staying at their family’s home in Italy. The film is a sensory delight, hitting the tone of a lazy Mediterranean summer spot-on. If any film is going to make you wish you were spending your summer falling in love with Italy, it’s this one.
Lost in Translation (2003)
Sofia Coppola’s award-winning film about a washed-up film star (Bill Murray) and a photographer’s wife (Scarlett Johansson) finding themselves constantly crossing paths in Tokyo also highlights the unique cultural differences that can be easy to forget until you find yourself in a new place. As with many of Coppola’s films, the dialogue is fairly minimal, and the wide scope of a gorgeous, glittering Tokyo often takes center stage. The setting is arguably its own character in this film, the city’s unique vibe often drawing you in and giving you longing to explore the depths of its liveliness yourself.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s film is not only charming thanks to its shy do-gooder protagonist but also the time it spends in some of Paris’ most quaint and lovely streets. Not only does the audience spend time watching her at the adorable café she works at or the local fruit market she shops at, but we get to witness her adventures throughout the city as she pursues a handsome stranger she had once bumped into. Perhaps no other film encapsulates a ‘Parisian’ feel more so than Amélie, giving viewers a taste for what the city has to offer.
Location: Pacific Crest Trail, California
Based on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, this true story follows a woman (Reese Witherspoon) seeking to find herself by hiking for one thousand miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. Despite the sometimes harrowing conditions, Cheryl perseveres and has many surprising and eye-opening encounters along the way. While it isn’t always rainbows, butterflies, and sunshine, the film underscores the personal journey that arises from a period of solitary wandering. If you’re ever feeling a little lost or in need of finding yourself, perhaps hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is one way to do it!
A Bigger Splash (2015)
Location: Pantelleria, Italy
Luca Guadagnino brings us yet another film full of lazy days in the Italian sun, but it couldn’t feel any sweeter. Perhaps with less of the romance found in Call Me By Your Name and more filled with unfiltered desire, this film about a rock star, her husband, and her former lover and his teenage daughter have tension running and dangerous scenarios lurking around every corner. While that is perhaps not quite what one might desire on a relaxing vacation in Italy, the film immerses you in small-town Mediterranean life and will make you want to spend your days lounging by the pool like Dakota Johnson.
La La Land (2016)
Location: Los Angeles
Damien Chazelle’s award-winning musical may not quite take place in a strange and unfamiliar land, but it can sure feel like it—La La Land brings out the color and magic of Los Angeles in a way that makes you want to immediately transport to the City of Stars. Showing off hidden gems like the Lighthouse Cafe or known hot spots like the Griffith Observatory. While you may not be able to break out into synchronized song and dance with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone at any given moment, the film’s beauty shows that there is still plenty of magic to be found in LA.
Faces Places (2017)
Location: Rural France
Agnès Varda and JR’s Oscar-nominated documentary highlights one of the best parts of venturing to new places—the people you meet along the way. While traveling throughout rural France, the duo encounter ordinary people from all walks of life and share their stories, both through interviews in the film and beautiful murals that JR constructs in their towns. Even though many of the landscapes are pretty phenomenal, the film emphasizes that what often makes a place is its people. Perhaps it will inspire you to go to France (or anywhere, really!) and learn not only about the physical beauty of places but also the people who live within them.
Hopefully, these films will inspire you to take one step further and one day explore these places for yourself, whether it be in the future near or far. And if you happen to have a passion for both film and traveling, you might even take it one step further as our own Anna Swanson recently suggested and go see a movie the next time you’re traveling in a new place! Whether your adventures are experienced on your screen or in the world, may your journey be a fruitful one.