If you could go anywhere right now… well, would you actually? Everybody, on some level, misses traveling. Wanderlust abounds in a time of pandemic restrictions but with slow vaccination rollout and waves of Covid-19 infections, is it ethically right to do so?

These are questions we have wrestled with in the past year and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. In the meantime, stay safe, stay home, still can travel. Here’s to satiating the wanderlust itch and escaping via these film recommendations. Whatever your travel style, we’ve got you.

The Ruggedness of Iceland in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty 

Image: What Movie Should I Watch Tonight

Whether you find the tale of this introverted daydreamer shallow or stimulating, in 2020, we were all Walter Mitty. As a global lockdown curbed travel plans and kept us housebound, the wild escapist dreams of a salaryman were instantly relatable.

The film plunges the stark beauty of Iceland to great effect. You’ll want to hike the snow-capped mountains and journey down the flat open roads. There is quiet in the wild and this film invites you to resonate with it.

The Hustle of Hong Kong in Chungking Express

Image: Indiewire

If there’s ever been an ode to the infinite exuberance of cities, this movie is it. Filmed through the lens of cinematographer Christopher Doyle and the experimental direction of Wong Kar Wai, Hong Kong is a labyrinth of nooks and crannies that you can alternate between getting lost and finding yourself in. 

The 24-hour metropolitan thrums with a unique pulse, a signature beat borne from its Asian and Western confluence. Under gauzy neon lights, even the most humdrum of places like a sundry shop in Tsim Sha Tsui carries the promise of the start to many great stories.

 

The Limitless Appeal of South America in The Motorcycle Diaries

Image: Vintage Rides

Years before Che Guevera became an iconic activist, he was a 23-year-old budding medical doctor who went on a road trip across South America. Experiencing the different landscapes and communities across Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Venezuela sparked his political awakening. And watching this dramatisation of Guevera’s memoir might transform you too.

To watch Gael Garcia Bernal answer the call of the wild across windswept deserts, misty mountains, and wide-open roads is an act of extended awe. You might not be ready to jump on a motorbike, but you’ll definitely be itching to plan your next road trip. Destination is unknown, but impression is certain to be made.

The Romance of Paris in Amélie 

Image: Chamelle Photography

There are many films set in Paris, but it is Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s whimsical romantic comedy that is the pinnacle of the City of Love. It’s impossible not to be charmed by the tale of the titular shy Parisian waitress as she blooms in life and in love in her neighbourhood of Montmartre.

Forget the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre Museum. The most iconic Parisian sight in this movie is the Sacré-Cœur, a white-domed church where locals revel at. In fact the cafe Amélie works at in the film, Café des 2 Moulins, is currently an attraction in its own right. Amélie is a film that celebrates how simple things can spark great joy. Every moment is an adventure waiting to happen if you pay enough attention. 

The Natural Beauty of New Zealand in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Image: newzealand.com

Filmed in New Zealand across 150 locations, Peter Jackson crafted heaven on Earth as he brought the fantasy of Middle Earth to life. It may be a while before we can tour Hobbiton and visit the enchanting Shire that’s focal in this epic. Until we can travel safely again, we recommend a movie marathon to experience the natural windswept beauty of New Zealand.

 

Getting Lost in Japan in Lost In Translation

Image: imdb.com

There are more beautiful films set in East Asia. However, this film about two Americans in Japan is noteworthy for its portrayal of the ephemeral but powerful bond made while traveling in a foreign land. 

Traveling involves getting out of your comfort zone, be it sights, sounds, language, or food. And for single travellers, it can often be unexpectedly lonely. Sofia Coppola captures that dissonance while highlighting the shared thread of empathy that bonds us all. 

It’s the people that make the places. And in vibrant but alienating Shinjuku and Shibuya, two lonely souls find each other and that made all the difference.