Travel Without Leaving Home with Movies filmed Around the World
By Helen Back
Have you ever watched movies whose visuals stirred your adventurous spirit? Below we highlight some notable films that either offer some fantastic views or some exhilarating experiences that are actually real live travel destinations. We’ll also let you know where these movies are viewable on streaming platforms.
Midnight in Paris (2011)
PG-13, Romantic Comedy, Fantasy, Starring: Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, Carla Bruni, Marion Cotillard, Tom Hiddleston, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen, and Owen Wilson. Written and directed by Woody Allen.
Gil, a screenwriter-turned-novelist played by Owen Wilson, is spending time in Paris with his fiance and her conservative parents. But after one wine-fueled night of joy, Gil somehow finds himself whisked away to the Paris of the past, during the Roaring Twenties of the 20th century.
As Gil continues to experience life in the vivid past, his creativity and self-worth flourish. While there is an obvious concern with any project connected to Woody Allen, the man does have a knack for filming in gorgeous locales and this story was certainly an enjoyable experience worth viewing.
This is a movie that does its best to showcase just how much beauty and joy can be found within the City of Lights. The fact that this film was shot entirely in Paris means that there are plenty of sites to observe including the natural views of Giverny, the picturesque John XXIII Square, the Palace of Versailles, the grandiose Opéra, the postcard-quality views of Pont Alexandre III, and the Île de la Cité.
Movies like this will have you craving to experience the rue de la Montagne Sainte Geneviève for yourself.
Midnight in Paris is available for streaming on Hulu and Netflix.
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
R, Road Trip, Musical Starring: Bill Hunter, Guy Pearce, Terence Stamp and Hugo Weaving
This is an amazing road trip movie that features two drag queens and one transgender drag performer who go on a multiweek road trip across Australia with the goal of finishing with a performance at Lasseters.
As a road trip movie, the trio run into friendly aborigines, less-friendly rural types, a super-progressive mechanic, a gang of punks, a bit of homophobic backlash in one area, and even a little estranged family — all while driving around in a majestic tour bus that becomes christened as the namesake of the film.
While this movie is enjoyable for a number of reasons, getting to see Hugo Weaving performing confidently in drag, an actor more commonly known for playing Elrond in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Agent Smith in the Matrix trilogy.
In another, quieter way, it’s worth seeing Terrance Stamp’s moving Golden Globe-nominated performance as an elder drag performer.
This makes the list of amazing travel films due to the sheer majesty of some shots in the film’s travel from Sydney to Alice Springs. Some of the more notable Australian vistas featured by this specific movie are the Simpson Desert, Coober Pedy, and Kings Canyon, the last location made even more splendorous with three drag performers in full garb standing at its peak.
Watch this movie for free on Hoopla and ad-supported streaming on Tubi and PlutoTV.
Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
PG-13, Romantic Dramedy, Starring: Awkwafina, Gemma Chan, Henry Golding, Ken Jeong, Lisa Lu, Constance Wu and Michelle Yeoh
This film, notable for having a cast that is mostly composed of Chinese actors, focuses on the love life of Nick and Rachel. Nick is part of an incredibly affluent family while Rachel is an NYU economics professor.
What begins as a trip to visit friends in Singapore soon becomes a tangled but enjoyable mess of tropes from romance, comedy and drama films. This is a film that reminds us of the need for non-white representation in visual media while also satisfying that itch some viewers might have for a wild romance.
When the premise of your film involves showing the world of the ultra-wealthy, you are expecting some amazing views and this film delivers in spades. You get plenty of shots revealing locations in Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi; Penang, Malaysia; and Singapore that allow you to drink in the vistas like a dehydrated man being handed a 64-ounce tumbler of ice water.
Watch it on HBO Max.
Leap Year (2010)
PG, Romantic Comedy, Starring: Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, John Lithgow and Adam Scott
Anna is a lovestruck woman who hears of an ancient Irish tradition where any man who is proposed to on February 29th, Leap Day, is obligated to accept and so she schemes to visit Dublin to propose to Jeremy, her boyfriend, after four years of dating.
What follows is a laundry list of romantic comedy movie tropes that is made more unique due to the plot-crucial setting. Honestly, this is a perfectly fine film for anyone who loves romantic comedies, moments where characters re-examine who they truly have feelings for and musings on the landscape of Ireland.
While this film spends a brief amount of time in Cardiff, Wales, you still get to enjoy some amazing views of the Irish countryside from the many filming locations featured throughout. Notable locales include the vistas of The Arans, Connemara, Counties Wicklow, Mayo and Galway, Dublin, Waterford and Wicklow National Park.
Watch it on DIRECTV Stream, HBO Now, HBO Max, Max Go and Spectrum On Demand.
PG, Family, Animation, Adventure, Starring: Ed Asner, Jordan Nagai, Bob Peterson, Christopher Plummer
This is a gorgeously-rendered computer-generated animation movie that focuses on Carl, an elderly man, whose youth was full of adventure, as he rediscovers his love of adventure and finds the family he never had (but always wanted) in a boy named Russell and a loyal dog that can talk.
That adventure comes in the whimsical notion of tethering a massive number of inflatable balloons to a house and casting off for the fictional South American locale of Paradise Falls. We figured this list needed a bit more variety than rom-coms and this is arguably one of the best family films that can tingle the desire to explore and travel the raw, untamed, and rural parts of the world.
While this is a fictional film that is made entirely with the code from multiple computers, Pixar does its research on how locations are supposed to look. The various tropical spots featured within this film are breathtaking and exhaustive recreations of places like Venezuela’s Angel Falls and the mesas of Monte Roraimaand Matawi Tepui.
To further this point, just about anyone who has ever seen these sites or watched this movie and been shown the counterpart will probably do a double-take at how close the reality and CG manage to overlap.
Watch it streaming on Disney+.
Movies that Move Us
While books can instill a desire to travel, films can further press upon that impulse by giving the audience an impression of what that place is like.
While there are plenty of other viable films you can stream as a preface to taking a trip, these five films were chosen partly because they usually do not come up very often when it comes to discussing films with some focus on travel and adventurous tourism.
Frank Moraes is a freelance writer from San Francisco specializing in technology, business, and film/television. He combines them all as an editor at the cord-cutter website HotDog.com