By Blythe Edwards
St Augustine famously said, ‘The world is a book and those who do not travel only read one page.’ Using that analogy, Sciences Po students have definitely signed up for library cards, since all students will spend at least one year abroad. But how should you go about picking which chapter to read next? A good travel movie can immerse you in the sights and sounds of a foreign place, and possibly give you inspiration for your next trip! Here are some movie night suggestions to escape a dreary day in Reims…
Lost in Translation
Have you seen Sofia Coppola’s 2003 film Lost in Translation? An over-the-hill film star named Bob Harris (Bill Murray), in Tokyo for a Japanese whiskey ad, and a slightly lost newlywed, Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), tagging along on a work trip of her celebrity-photographer husband, meet by chance in the hotel bar. Thanks to jet lag and time alone to kill, the pair end up exploring Tokyo together: the neon lights of Shibuya, the traffic, the blaring music, the sushi restaurants, the crowds of people, the karaoke. Despite its central characters being lonely in vast foreign Tokyo, it’s hard not to be drawn by the energy and exotic modernity of the city. You’ll be dying to visit Japan to appreciate its fascinating culture firsthand.
Midnight in Paris
If you are looking for travel inspiration that is easier to indulge from Reims, download Woody Allen’s 2011 Midnight in Paris. It’s a love letter to the City of Light. In it, Owen Wilson’s character, a flâneur who takes to midnight rambles, time travels to understand that nostalgia for the past is no substitute for life in the present. With Paris just 47 minutes from Reims by TGV, it is easy to make walking by the Seine at midnight your reality.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Some movies have inspired their viewers to visit the sights found in the films such that it has transformed the locations from unknown backwaters to major destinations. The best example may be Petra, Jordan, which burst into popular consciousness with the enormously popular Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade film in 1989, the third installation of the Indiana Jones franchise. Moviegoers worldwide were blown away by the spectacular scenery of the Siq, a narrow gorge leading through towering red sandstone walls, to the classical Treasury, carved into the rockface by the first century BC Nabateans. Pre-Raiders, Petra was off the tourist radar. After its newfound fame, visitors reached as many as 3,000 a day. Due to the Syrian war, Jordan’s tourism has sadly plummeted, if you go now, you’ll have these spectacular sites to yourselves.
The Darjeeling Limited
If your movie tastes include the twee confections of Wes Anderson, The Darjeeling Limited, which plots the trajectory of a trio of squabbling American brothers traveling by train across India makes for epic armchair travel, if more fantastical than realistic. In it, Owen Wilson, as the eldest brother, masterminds a ‘spiritual journey’ through the Himalayan foothills. Lush and lovely, The Darjeeling Limited was actually shot in Rajasthan. It features the sort of picaresque scenes, like a man-eating tiger or a poisonous snake, that you find few places other than India. As one reviewer described it, the film ‘travels rather like Rousseau’s paintings of the jungle: an India of the imagination…’ If you go from armchair traveler to subcontinent explorer, the real India delivers on the promise of the country’s ad campaign of the last 15 years; it genuinely is Incredible India!
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Perhaps the best example of a Hollywood movie that inspires travel is Ben Stiller’s 2013 The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Iceland has been the other-worldly setting for Oblivion, Prometheus and Thor, and HBO’s Game of Thrones. The island’s epic scenery of volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls, and black sands often stand in for an alien planet. In The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Iceland itself gets a starring role. As a shy daydreamer who frequently zones out in elaborate daydreams about doing exciting and heroic things, Walter Mitty mistakenly believes real life can’t compete with his imagination. When he needs to track down a missing photograph for the final issue of LIFE magazine, suddenly Mitty embarks on a global adventure. Actually, not only the Iceland scenes, but all of the exotic locations – wild Afghanistan, frozen Greenland and the Himalayas – were filmed in Iceland. If watching gets you inspired enough to make a trip to Iceland reality, WOW air has a 3.5 hour nonstop flight from Paris to Reykjavík that starts at about 120 euros roundtrip.
Do these films make you want to grab your passport and rush to Charles de Gaulle? Are you ready to book a flight to Japan, India, or Iceland? What incredible parts of the world have yet to be captured in a great movie? Submit your own cinema suggestions to the Sundial! We would love to hear from you.