In true Hollywood style, we’re following up last week’s blog with this, the sequel – our second half-dozen films that whet the travel tastebuds. Is it a ‘Godfather II‘ list - surprisingly superior to the original – or such an offensive nosedive in quality that it only merits being known as ‘The ‘Star Wars I, the Phantom Menace’ collection’? Get onto twitter @PeregrineSpirit and on facebook.to let us know your thoughts and film tips.
The Third Man- Austria
Cue the zither music: Vienna’s sewer system is nowadays perhaps most famous for its association with Carol Reed’s film adaptation of the Graham Greene novel. Harry Lime’s – Orson Welles at his most roguish – flee from the police through the sewers is one of cinema’s greatest sequences, a mingling of pathos and drama amid the subterranean claustrophobia of the cholera canals, built in the 1830s. From the Ferris Wheel to the cemetery, you could base an entire visit to Vienna around the movie’s locations (and many do), but it’s below ground that is a must – and as a bonus, venturing there gives a unique perspective on the Wien River, which for much of Vienna flows below street level, disappearing under a massive arched vault beneath the Naschmarkt.
Manon des Sources – France
Its predecessor, Jean de Florette, made a generation of discerning filmgoers fall in love with the Provence countryside, and this film builds on the morality play of Jean, widening its themes and layering the guilt and greed across wider society, all amid the incomparably sensuous surrounds of southern France. Individuals intent on creating a hell for themselves and others in the most heavenly of settings, this is simply a great modern tragedy – watch both films, a beautiful, devastating diptych of avarice and despair, love and revenge
Y Tu Mama Tambien – Mexico
A meditation on liberation and the impossibility of escaping oneself, this coming-of-age joyride of a movie from 2001 was among the first of the Latin American ‘New Wave’ and remains a powerful film, by turns riotous and touching. Check out the Oaxaca beach and Mexico City’s throbbing urban life for a quick jolt of Mexico from afar.
City of God / Central Station – Brazil
Gulp. The Rio that City of God inhabits is at times a little too far off-the-beaten-path. But the lurid colours, high-energy camerawork and breakneck pacing of this tale of drugs and guns, gangs and greed accurately conveys the eyeball-popping crackle of energy that frenetic Rio confronts visitors with. Like the movie, the city’s best when you just go right ahead and dive in. If you’re after something a little more sedate, seek out the beautiful, tender Central Station, a mismatch road trip of an embittered former school teacherand young boy journeying from Rio to Brazil’s Bahia region.
The Darjeeling Limited - India
Not director Wes Anderson’s finest moment, but what this film lacks in plot and characterisation it nearly makes up for in costume, set design and the splendour of the surrounds – a stylish day-glo, jewel-bright ride on India’s rails, filmed inside a moving train travelling from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer and through the Thar desert. Think beautiful shots of Rajasthan countryside, atmospheric street scenes and a real feeling of rattling along onboard India’s inimitable rails. And perhaps the best is saved for last –the picturesque finale was shot in absurdly romantic Udaipur.
One extra for luck, our bonus DVD feature:
Into the Wild – Arctic
Alexander Supertramp’s final steps are taken in wilderness Alaska, a tragic, deeply affecting end to a film of intense lyricism. Sean Penn’s romantic take on the true-life wanderings of young Christopher McCandless makes our list not due to its polar ending, but because of the film’s message, and for its protagonist’s passion for exploration, to seek out and grasp the earth’s endless possibilities while there’s still time and willing.
And a rambling list of honourable mentions:
The Passenger, for the elegantly scorched Andalucian locations Jack Nicholson travels through; the heady, dislocating vertical Tokyo maze of Lost in Translation; Kenya’s widescreen romance in Out of Africa; Marrakech casting its spell inHideous Kinky; everyday life elevated to poetry in Iran’s Children of Heaven; and finally a documentary, Wernor Herzog’s sombre corrective to the cute fluffy marching penguins of Antartica, Encounters at the End of the World.