geishas gion


Top 5 Movies That Inspire Travel

Published January 15th, 2014

There’s an old yarn that says what you do in the New Year determines what the year ahead will be like. By that logic, a movie marathon featuring the world’s most dreamy cityscapes should set the pace for a year filled with adventures abroad, foreign love affairs, gripping plot twists and life affirming take-home messages, right?


There are a lot of lists out their spruiking the top movies that inspire travel, but let’s be frank: Lost in Translation is overrated (yeah, I said it), Cast Away is the stuff of nightmares and Seven Years in Tibet got Brad Pitt banned from China. This is a totally biased list of movies that feature attractive people in pretty places doing awesome things. Exhume the remaining dregs of sugar cookies and glazed ham from the fridge, crank the air-con and drive those recliners horizontal: movie night is upon us.


Midnight in Paris


Not only do Owen Wilson and his nose travel to the world’s most romantic city in Midnight in Paris, they travel THROUGH TIME! The concept could be intolerably tacky if the execution wasn’t so brilliant. This 2011 flick is a return to form for Woody Allen, whose hit-and-miss catalogue boasts cinematographic gems and absolute duds. As Gil (Wilson) explores Paris and beyond, we see a spectrum of French beauty from the bohemian flea market of St. Ouen to the banks of the River Seine, the famous literary cafes of St. Germain and the opulent gardens at the Chateau de Versailles. This movie will have you smitten with both present day Paris and the city circa 1920, plus it reaffirms the notion that Hemingway was kind of a tool.

For more France-spiration: Amelie, Funny Face


The Motorcycle Diaries


Warning: The Motorcycle Diaries is a film that requires you to pay attention. You had to know there would be subtitles involved somewhere considering this is a blog about travel inspiring movies. This 2004 bio-pic maps the journey that shaped Ernesto “Che” Guevara into his future revolutionary self, painting a vivid picture of South America's diverse countries and cultures. Ernesto and his brofriend Alberto embark on pretty much the most epic gap year of all time, spending a year trekking South America on a rickety hog. The scenery astounds: the barrenness of the Atacama Desert, the remoteness of the Andes, the tundra of Patagonia, the list goes on. Still, the film’s landscapes don’t eclipse the stories of human suffering and triumph at its core. Viva!

For more South America-spiration: Buena Vista Social Club, City of God


Memoirs of a Geisha


While some films simply highlight the aesthetics of their setting and whack a narrative on top, others offer something of a cultural voyage. In this case, Memoirs of a Geisha grants us an intimate peak inside the traditional art of "geisha" in Kyoto. On the surface, the 2005 Academy Award winner takes us to the beautiful Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Arashiyama bamboo forest, the Amami Islands and the iconic geisha district of Gion. Venturing deeper, the film sheds light on a significant era in Japan either side of World War II. While the movie has historical foundations, there’s no denying it’s a romanticised tale. Still, it certainly makes you want to learn more about these “women of art” and the rich tapestry of Japanese culture.

For more Japan-spiration: Lost in Translation, Kill Bill vol. 1




Serendipity is perhaps the most beautifully irritating movie I have ever seen. There are plenty of movies set in New York City (literally hundreds) but Serendipity begins with an unbeatable vista: the shiny Big Apple glazed in snow. The star-crossed lovers at the heart of the film go ice-skating in Central Park, there’s frantic department store Christmas shopping and the famous Frozen Hot Chocolate at the Serendipity 3 cafe even makes an appearance. This sickly, syrupy sweet rom-com is not for the weak of stomach, however. Serendipity may have hit the box office in 2001 but it still retains that glorious ‘90s chick-flick quality – vulnerable single ladies steer clear. There’s no denying the frustration factor when watching. TURN AROUND CUSACK!  SHE’S RIGHT THERE!

For more USA-spiration: Into the Wild, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off


Roman Holiday


This golden oldie still goes alright. Roman Holiday is the film that launched Audrey Hepburn into the eternal realms of fame. Anya (Hepburn) is a European princess who grows ever so weary of her royal duties. What’s a gal to do but play hooky with a devilishly handsome reporter and paint the town red? Well, the film is in black and white but we can assume they painted it red. This 1953 classic is light-hearted and charming, set against backdrops like the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain and an assortment of al fresco Roma trattorias dotting the cobbled sidewalks in the Italian capital. How cute are the pair causing mayhem around Rome on a Vespa? That Gregory Peck is a bad influence!

For more Italy-spiration: Under the Tuscan Sun, A Good Year



Ashton Rigg

When I'm not at home in Brisbane, you’ll find me wanderlusting around hipster bars, eclectic boutiques and arty nooks. From bagels in Brooklyn to strudel in Salzburg, I believe the best way to experience a destination is by taking a bite! Tweets & 'grams at @AshtonRigg