Many things inspire us to pack our bags and get away from it all, but according to a survey by British Airways around 40 percent of us are influenced to travel because of the films we see. In celebration of the Oscars (12 Years a Slave is a poignant masterpiece by the way – well worth a watch if you haven’t seen it already), I have been thinking of films that influence our travel decisions. Films, for me, are a little break from the daily grind – a tiny, little, mini-break where you can disconnect from your surroundings and relax into another world. It’s this escape from reality that connects films with travelling. As they say ‘a picture creates 1000 words’ and by that logic, a feature length film bursting with exotic imagery understandably creates a lasting impression.
There are countless films dedicated to the notion of travel, road trip movies (The Motorcycle Diaries), self-exploration movies (Eat.Pray.Love) and then there are movies set in a far- away land, which is certainly enough to (at the very least) encourage us to start googling images of the location. Apparently the most popular film that inspires travel is ‘The Beach’ starring Leonardo Dicaprio. Set on the Thai island of Koh Phi Phi, the film makers created a visual paradise, which I for one, lapped up wholeheartedly. The Beach is a visual feast, not without controversy though; I visited ‘the beach’ in question and was a little confused, it didn’t look the same. Of course it didn’t; the film makers landscaped away to make paradise even more blissful for our screens.
Iconic films no doubt attract tourists to the places they were filmed in, movies promote tourism and that can be both a blessing and a curse. Every situation is of course, different. In the UK I feel it works out pretty well for our economy but in the case of the beach on Koh Phi Phi there have been lasting environmental effects (ironically ironed out by the Tsunami in 2004). There was also a lot of hype about New Zealand’s breath taking scenery when The Lord of the Rings was catapulted into cinemas, and according to Tourism New Zealand’s official stats the country has seen a 50 percent increase in arrivals since the release of the first movie. The NZ postal service even issued stamps with characters from The Hobbit on them. A nod in recognition of what Peter Jackson’s creations have done for the country. Putting all this aside, I’m really glad that we can utilise films as a form as escape, and I’m even happier that we have the opportunities to travel to these magical places that we see on the big screen. So many films inspire me to travel; one that sticks in my mind in particular is House of Flying Daggers, set in China. Such beautiful, colourful, scenery and awesome cinematography. Unfortunately I’m not heading to China any time soon, but until I can, I think I’ll get watching some more films.
Loads of iconic films have been shot in Venice. Check out Jan Fuscoe's guide here Venice – Camera, lights, action!
More movie location inspiration...