Glasgow, Scotland, UK • April 2016 • Length of Read: 7 Minutes
The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
Before he became a Marxist revolutionary and anti-imperialist martyr, Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara undertook a spontaneous 8,000km motorcycle journey with his friend Alfonso to explore the vast South American continent. In 1952, under the guise of leprosy doctors, these twenty-something medical graduates jumped on a haggard two-wheeler labelled ‘The Mighty One’ and began a four-month adventure to learn about a land they only knew from books. From Ernesto stealing the wife of a man kind enough to fix their continually faulty motorbike; to their tent being swept away in the wind; to the pair’s continual bickering; to the infamous Anniversary Routine trick they deployed to get free meals, The Motorcycle Diaries shows life through the eyes of a young man with a changing worldview. A stay at a Leper Colony in the Amazon Basin towards the end of the trip may well have been the deciding factor in what ‘Che’ then went on to pursue in later life.
Euro Trip (2004)
The American Pie of travel films. After high school graduate Scotty gets a flirtatious e-mail from his German pen-pal Mike, he blocks the address and tells him never to make contact again. When he’s informed by his brother that Mike is not actually a guy, however, but a gorgeous blonde girl called Mieke, Scotty and his friend Cooper embark on a crazy European adventure with the goal of tracking her down. Accidentally joining a bunch of football hooligans in London (led by Vinnie Jones), the pair then meet up with two other friends in Paris and the quartet zig-zag their way around the continent getting high in Amsterdam, chased off a nudist beach, messed up in an Eastern European nightclub, and generally fall into failure everywhere they go. The sister-film Road Trip is also a must-watch.
The Beach (2000)
This film adaption of the cult-classic novel by Alex Garland will make you want to immediately book a flight to South-East Asia. The story follows a young English man called Richard (Leonardo DiCaprio) who, when backpacking through Thailand, learns of a secret Utopia hidden on an unknown island far from the tourist trail. As he becomes ingrained in the small community residing on this paradise’s beach however, not all is as it initially seems.
Into The Wild (2007)
Into the Wild tells the real-life story of Chris McCandless (Emile Hirsch), a 21 year-old who sold all his belongings; gave his parent’s entire college fund to charity, and hiked out into the Alaskan wilderness under the pseudonym of Alexander Supertramp. Inadequately prepared for the environment his decomposed body was then found four months later by a group of hunters, McCandless having become stranded in the bush and starved to death. Directed by Sean Penn, the film’s cinematography is mind-blowing and you’ll be hard-pressed not to just sling a bag over your own shoulder and hit the open road after watching it.
In Bruges (2008)
This hilarious black comedy sees two Irish hit-men having to lay low in the Belgian city of Bruges following a failed job. Whilst waiting for a call from their boss Harry (Ray Feines) with instructions, Ken (Brendan Gleeson) is happy to spend the time exploring the beautiful medieval city whilst his partner Ray (Colin Farrell) tags along and complains endlessly about how bored he is:
Ray: Bruges is a shithole.
Ken: Bruges *is* not a shithole.
Ray: Bruges *is* a shithole.
Ken: Ray, we only just got off the fucking train! Could we reserve judgement on Bruges until we've seen the fucking place?
Ray then meets the gorgeous Chloe on a film-set however, and the hopeless pair decide to make the most of their time together. This results in a fight with a Canadian couple, the blinding of her thieving ex-boyfriend, and repeatedly offending a midget. The final shoot-out will have you in stitches whist also craving a weekend city-break to this Flemish World Heritage Site.
Midnight in Paris (2011)
Joining his fiance's parent’s business trip to Paris, Gil (Owen Wilson) falls in love with the city that meant so much to the literally icons he admires. A successful screenwriter, he is struggling on his first novel and sees life in the French capital as just the inspiration he needs to finish his book. He suggests to Inez (Rachel McAdams) that they move there following the wedding, however she does not share his romantic notions of the city. The two grow apart, an whilst Inez spends more and more time with her family and friends, Gill goes off on midnight ramblings; finding himself transported back to the roaring 20’s in the process. A Woody Allen masterpiece.
Before Sunrise (1995)
Whilst on an inter-rail tour of Europe, American backpacker Jesse (Ethan Hawke) has a chance encounter on a train from Budapest with Celine (Julie Delpy), a French girl returning to Paris. The two immediately make a connection and Celine agrees to get off in Vienna to spend some time with Jesse before his flight back to the United States the following day. The two wander around the city getting to know each other on an extremely intimate level, the short-time frame accelerating their relationship beyond what would normally happen. Full of incredibly articulate dialogue, this is the first in Richard Linklater’s trilogy of real-time romance movies and captures what it’s like to make everlasting bonds whilst on the road.
L’Auberge Espagnole (2002)
THE University Exchange program movie. Set in Barcelona, it follows the ups and downs of a group of ERASMUS students from all over Europe who have been thrown into an apartment together. The main protagonist, Xavier, finds himself moving in with an Italian, German, Dane, Englishman, and a German, who, despite their cultural differences, all end up bonding over their shared experience.
Y Tu Mama También (2001)
One of the most erotic films out there. Sex. Sex. Sex. Mexican teenagers Tenoch and Julio have waved their girlfriends goodbye for the summer, and whilst their other-halves are travelling through Europe the boys dedicate their time to partying and doing drugs. Meeting the wife of one of their uncles at a wedding, they convince her to go on a road trip with them to the coast. The three head off on a journey which exposes unexpected truths that each character did not expect, hidden relationships, life visions… and your mother too.
Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid (1969)
The Wild West classic starring Robert Redford as the infamous outlaw Butch Cassidy and Robert Redford as his right hand man, Sundance. Part of the train-robbing Hole in the Wall Gang, so named after the hideout in Wyoming, this pair chance their luck one-too-many times with the law and end up on the run from a special posse who have been hired with the sole purpose of stopping them; dead or alive. Following a lucky escape, the pair decide to take drastic action. “Let’s go to Bolivia,” suggests Butch.