OPINION: Vacationing Through Movies

I can think of no better tourism advertisement for a country than a successful film.

My formal introduction to many foreign countries has been in the form of a stellar film.

Sure, when you’re a kid you’re told about Japan, you’re aware of what it is as a concept, you’ve seen a couple of pictures and maybe your middle-class parents have taken you to Wagamama so you (think) you know what they eat, but at this point Japan may as well be on another planet. You don’t know anyone who’s been there and you might not have even met a Japanese person – the concept is an alien one. Great films don’t just introduce you to characters, they put you in places that you might not have been before and give you an idea of what it’s like to be there. Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation was a film that did just this and introduced me to a whole perspective of movie watching.

Midnight in Paris

I’m not a huge Woody Allen fan. Although I understand that he’s made some iconic movies, I’ve often found his authorial voice to be a little overwhelming. Even when he’s not starring in his own picture, he’ll find a male lead to embody his odd foibles and eccentricities. Owen Wilson is Allen’s mouthpiece in Midnight in Paris, a film that manages to satisfy and exceed the expectations that I had of both director and lead, and had me searching for holiday villas in the south of France within moments of finishing the film.

The Darjeeling Limited

I visited India mere months after seeing the The Darjeeling Limited and wasn’t disappointed by the huge wealth of colour, excitement and drama that this beautiful country had to offer, although it’s safe to say that Wes Anderson’s vision of the country differs somewhat to the reality. Wes Anderon’s fourth feature film is by no means his best work, yet it stands out as the beginning of his journey into the fantastical everyday (a trend which would peak with The Grand Budapest Hotel) and clearly intimates his love for the country, as well as its iconic rail system.

The Beach 

Danny Boyle has as many detractors as fans these days, but he can arguably be hailed as the man to bring Thailand’s gorgeous islands to the world’s attention. Whilst The Beach is better remembered as a showcase for fledgling writer Alex Garland (who penned the original novel, as well as the screenplay), Boyle certainly has a knack for framing these Thai islands and made Thailand a must-visit location for teenagers the world over – including me…

In Bruges

This jet black comedy revitalised the career of Colin Farrell (an adorable naif speaking in his native accent) and simultaneously sold indie-film fans around the world to a winter city break in Belgium. Many films have attempted to tackle the subject of hit-men in a comedic way but very succeed in doing so. In Bruges not only makes its protagonists likeable, but it also completely sells the city as a place of cultural beauty, which can be as isolating as it can be romantic.