I know! You’ve had enough! Like me, you want a plane ticket and you want out! Well, while we still wait for the green travel light, we can all continue to dream a little. Wanderlust is a tough feeling to quell when you can’t get out there and feed the addiction and the closest things we have to traveling right now may be through our television screens. So, here they are. My list of 10 movies to inspire your wanderlust: Europe edition. I literally have had these movies on repeat all summer long so at least I can dream!
Murder On The Orient Express
Legendary, cinematic splendor awaits you in this 1974 masterpiece. Agatha Christie lets you time travel back to 1935 when train travel was the ultimate luxury. As the mystery unfolds, the traveler in all of us can’t help but pick up on the little details like how hats were packed or how compartments were constructed to use every little space. As the train travels from Istanbul across the continent toward Calle, it’s hard not to assign yourself a compartment and dream about helping dear Poirot solve the unsolvable.
One note, Albert Finney’s Poirot has quite the accent and Agatha Christie leaves a treasure trove of clues for the viewer to follow. It’s possible to miss a few key moments without hitting the rewind button. This is literally my favorite movie of all time, with more than 40 viewings to my name, I still find gems every time I watch. You won’t regret watching this one over and over.
Update: Both the remake of this movie and the iconic Death on The Nile are available. Of the two, I highly reccomend the original for “Orient” and Kenneth Brannaugh’s new version for “Nile”.
The Sound of Music
Let’s start at the very beginning. This epic masterpiece by Rogers and Hammerstein has had families singing along for decades now. I mean, who doesn’t Julie Andrews? And while we are all singing about champagne and mountains and nuns, our inner traveler can breathe in climbing every mountain and skipping down cobblestone streets. Just. Like. Julie.
Let’s not forget the serious story of how WWII reshaped Europe (and the Pacific) forever. It’s an important topic for any traveler headed to Europe and this is a great movie to start that conversation.
The Zookeeper’s Wife
Warsaw. 1939. All hell is breaking loose as Hitler invades Poland. While all of this is going on, the zoo’s residents still need looking after. This true story delves into what it meant to try to find life in the midst of destruction and how to help humanity in the face of adversity all while trying desperately to save the animals in the zoo.
From total destruction, Warsaw rose from the ashes and rebuilt itself and saved its zoo that still stands today. When travelers come across stories like these, it helps define the resilience of a people and allows one to appreciate where they are so much more.
Robert Edsel’s account of how a band of soldiers came together to save the very art we all travel to see is quite unbelievable. As D-day shifted the war into retreat, Hitler was intent on using a systematic program to strip Europe of its masterpieces. This end of war story tells how the program was dismantled and the art was recovered.
Take a minute and gather up the enormity of the situation. So much of what we look at when we go to museum after museum is featured in this movie. No traveler could walk away from this underappreciated story without a little more respect for what it took to get things to look like they do today.
Julie and Julia
What words can I use to explain how wonderful Julia Child was? Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci are masters of their craft as they bring us the story of France’s ultimate fan girl, Julia Child. Meawhile, Amy Adams struggles to find her place in the world over in New York City and uses Julia as her inspiration. Paris. New York. Paris. New York.
Travelers will adore this post war look at Paris with touches of Normandy. The foodie in all of us will adore recipe after recipe that Julie and Julia whip up. Watch it then go make some macrons.
The DaVinci Code
The second installation in this Dan Brown series sets itself in Paris, London and Scotland. Following the code found in art at the Louvre, this twisty tale unwinds with symbol after symbol. While the movie in no way can compare to the incredible detail that was researched for the book, it does allow for sweeping views of some amazing European icons.
Travelers will adore a peek into The Louvre after hours. Paris shines as a member of the cast and lends that spark to both London and Scotland as the movie continues. Let me just start planning that next trip!
Eat. Pray. Love.
Life changes. Man, those changes can be tough. So, Liz needs to figure out what her next move is. The good news for us travelers? She has our dream job. Liz travels the world writing. while she struggles to find herself, Liz gives us a sense of Rome, an interesting take on a small slice of India, and a breezy bit of Bali.
It seems that Liz eventually finds a little peace after she learned to balance all of her eating, praying, and loving. Lucky for us, we can travel with her until she figures it out.
Dirty, Rotten Scoundrels
This 80’s throwback is all about two dirty, rotten… well you get the idea. These two cons take on a new mark in Europe and inappropriate hi jinks ensue. Travelers will enjoy the grandeur of the setting. Laugh, enjoy, and wish that you could be there too.
Opa! Donna and the Dynamos are back together to throw a wedding for Donna’s beloved daughter. Men show up and chaos (a Greek word by the way) and Abba music ensue. Sing along as we traipse around this stunning gem of a Greek Island.
While most of the film was shot in studio, you can dance and you can jive on the islands of Skopelos, Skiathos, and Vis where all the water shots were filmed. Although, if you have a dream to see the chapel on the top of the hill, it’s not there. That’s CGI magic at work. So, get your dancing shoes on and take a chance on this sing along!
Dark, funny, and tragic all at the same time, In Bruges is about two Irish assassins, a midget, and some culture. I’ll leave it at that. Travelers will appreciate Ken’s love of art and site-seeing as he tours some of the icons of the small cities. However, I can’t discount that when I travel I sometimes feel like Ray and just want to pull up a stool for a pint at the pub.
One last note.
Seven of these films started their lives as books and the teacher in me would be remiss if I didn’t remind you that the books that preceded these great picks are far more detailed and intimate. They may be 10 movies to inspire your wanderlust, but, always read the book first!