Dumbo. I’m pretty sure that was the first film I ever saw. It’s hard to remember, as I was only 3 or 4 at the time. But it was definitely with my grandmother at a long-demolished cinema in Epsom, Surrey. My grandmother is still gong strong at 98 and, to this day, gets abroad once a year. She was definitely one of the causes of my travel bug, having taken me on my first flight with Freddie Laker’s Skytrain to the US when I was 7.
But back to films. I’m an avid cinema-goer and there is definitely an overlap with my thirst for foreign adventure. Here’s a Top 10 of the films that have given me itchy feet.
Sideways (2010) – A story of two men reaching middle age who set off on a week-long road trip through California’s wine country, as a pseudo-stag trip. It has given me the ambition of doing a wine road-trip sometime. And why not California?
Vicky Christina Barcelona (2008) – A great film that gave Penelope Cruz an Oscar win. Sexy and funny, this Woody Allen film makes the most of its Barcelona and Oviedo locations. Someone bring me a jug of Sangria!
The Year of Living Dangerously (1982) – Ok. So it was filmed in the Philippines, rather than Jakarta, but this film – one of Mel Gibson’s earliest starring roles – perfectly captures the convergence of oriental exotic with the discomfort of high temperatures and 100% humidity. This is a film that completely draws you in.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) – I have to admit to this being one of my favourite films. From the opening sequence in Peru, through to Cairo and Nepal, the locations hook you in to the action. I’ve since been to Egypt and the Himalayas. And Peru is very much still on my list.
Death on the Nile (1978) – A perfectly serviceable Agatha Christie adaptation with a great cast. But I distinctly remember when my my mum took me to this, aged about 10, I was bewitched by the Egyptian scenery and the historical sites. I love Bette Davis’ wry comment, “In the older days, they’d have built the Nile for you. Nowadays, films have become travelogues and actors, stuntmen.”
Before Sunrise (1995) – I love all of Richard Linklater’s ‘Before’ trilogy, but the first one is just sublime, with the splendour of Vienna as the backdrop. I would love to have met someone on a train like that and be that impulsive. Maybe that’s why our forthcoming round the world adventure has 3,000 miles of rail travel built into the itinerary.
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) – A few years back my daughters and I had a bit of a Hitchcock phase and discovered this James Stewart/Doris Day classic. It was shot on location in Marrakesh and when the girls and I were exploring the city, we made a point of stopping for tea at the Hotel La Mamounia where much of the action was shot. It was simply glorious.
The Talented Mr Ripley (1999) – The locations in this film are as sizzling hot as its stars – Jude Law, Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow. From the Italian capital to its Mediterranean waters, this film just intoxicates he senses. Give me another taste of La Dolce Vita!
The Lord of the Rings (2001) – I’ve always been drawn to New Zealand. Maybe it’s the rugby, maybe it’s the seemingly understated nature of the people. But it wasn’t until I saw the majesty of the landscape in The Lord of the Rings series, that I really appreciated what the place has to offer. It was first down on the list when it came to planning our round the world itinerary.
Bond Films (1962 onwards) – I know. It’s the movie world’s biggest franchise, not a single film, but I was brought up watching Bond films and the locations have always been a key part of the appeal. From the Bahamas to Scotland, from Hong Kong to Istanbul, I have lapped it all up. It has always made travelling sound glamorous. And I bloody love that!
Which films have I missed? Which locations get you reaching for your passport?