Films don’t just provide an escape from reality – they can provide an escape to it… A good film can inspire you to visit the far-flung locations shown on the screen and embark on your own cinematic adventures. Here are 12 great films in splendid settings to inspire your wanderlust and get you travelling around the globe, and beyond…
Don’t Look Now – starring Venice
This brilliantly frightening chiller from 1973 starring Donald Sutherland is set among the canals and alleyways of Venice – and never has the city been used to such creepy effect (the ending, with Sutherland chasing a small hooded figure around the city’s backstreets, is one of cinema’s most eerie and haunting sequences). After watching the film, you’ll want to visit this city filled with mystery and soaked in history.
Night and the City – starring London
Jules Dassin’s wonderful film from 1950 features London as a backdrop to a story of petty criminals and artists all trying to make a living in the bustling, unpredictable metropolis, that’s not an easy city, but can be a rewarding one. It’s a beautiful portrait of a place that teems with adventure and the unexpected. They call New York the city that never sleeps, but as this film illustrates, London seldom naps.
Black Rain – starring Osaka
This cop film is set in Osaka, Japan’s second largest city and one of the largest in the world, with a population of nearly 20 million. It’s a neon-drenched paradise for shopping, eating, drinking, partying – and an alarming glimpse of our urbanised future. Ridley Scott, the great visual stylist behind the film, seems enamoured with Japan: Another of his films, his startling vision of the future, Blade Runner, was based on the Japanese city of Tokyo.
Manhattan – starring New York
Woody Allen’s film is a love letter to New York, or more specifically Manhattan Island, where he sets the majority of his films. The opening scene, where the main character explains why he loves the city, will have you scrambling to book a flight there: Allen’s New York is a city full of romance and wonderful possibilities. As he says, “He adored New York City – he idolised it out of all proportion”, and after watching this film, you will too.
Emil and the Detectives – starring Berlin
Much of this charming children’s story was filmed in Berlin’s central district, Mitte, in 1935, and the amazing thing is, the streets with trams and bicycles, dotted with cafes and bookshops, haven’t changed a great deal since then. The city remains as curious, interesting and invigorating as ever.
Paris, Texas – starring USA
Wim Wenders’s 1984 film is the road movie to end them all, one man’s odyssey across the great American deserts. The landscapes are vast, haunting and astonishing, and if this doesn’t make want to take off down Route 66, nothing will.
The Third Man – starring Vienna
This classic 1949 film, set in postwar Vienna, sees an American writer trying to hunt down a mysterious, missing friend. This film is guaranteed to make you want to visit Vienna, and when you get there, you can visit the various locations made famous by the film – the cobbled streets, hotels, cafes and even the ferris wheel are still intact, in this ornate city that seems to be beautifully frozen in time.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – starring the South of France
You might think the Côte d’Azur is only fun if you’ve got money, and plenty of it – but you’d be wrong, as Steve Martin proves in this hilarious sun-soaked 1987 comedy. Martin is a con man who only pretends he’s loaded, and has a wonderful time. After all, it’s a beautiful location, the beaches are free, and the mountains are only a short trip away.
The 400 Blows – starring Paris
Francois Truffaut’s marvellous film from 1959 shows the young boy Antoine playing truant from school in the French capital – which is basically what travelling is all about, playing truant from a boring, 9-to-5 life. And Paris doesn’t feel like the real world anyway – like New York, it appears to the traveller to be one big film set, built to amuse and delight the visitor. Why would Antoine go to school, with this big playground to roam in?
Wake in Fright – starring Australia
This film from 1971 might not have thrilled the Australian Tourist Board when it was first released – showing the Australian outback to be inhospitable and dangerous, it is the story of a school teacher who becomes stranded in a remote town and falls in with some reprehensible characters. But, for the adventurous traveller, it shows Australia as it still is to this day – an extraordinary frontier to be explored, away from boring, sanitised civilisation.
The Dead – starring Dublin
John Huston’s extraordinary 1987 film, based on the story by Dubliner James Joyce, was filmed in around Dublin, including such famous locations in the city as the Ha’penny Bridge and Temple Bar. It’s a beautiful, moving film, that’ll make you hanker to go back to Dublin – and if you’ve never been – well, what’s your excuse?
2001: A Space Odyssey – starring Outer space
Okay, so space travel isn’t a reality – yet – but in due course it will be, and then, of course, you’ll want to go. No film better shows the potential beauty of space travel than Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. This film predicted, among other things, video phone calls, so flying off to a space station can’t be too far behind…
Which films have inspired you to travel? Tell us in the comments below!