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(2011 - Spring Issue)

Writer: Jane Stokes

I’d never been to Greece before but first laid eyes on it in The Moon-Spinners, a 1964 movie filmed on the island of Crete where its eye-popping seascapes—of bright white granite on boundless blue—had me spellbound for two hours straight. And after that, well after the storyline had completely faded, any time I would come into contact with Greek music and dance, I would hear it distinctly calling my name.  

This one movie had opened the door to the world for me—leading to a long visit throughout Greece when I was 19, plus a few more trips after that, including my honeymoon. And while many films set out to charm us with picture-perfect scenery and famous sites, still once in a while a movie goes way beyond the call to show us how beautiful the planet can be. Some that come immediately to mind are classics like Lawrence of Arabia, Seven Years in Tibet, A Passage to India andUnder the Tuscan Sun. This kind of travel starts in a theatre or living room—and often leads to the destination of your dreams. 

North America

Sideways(2004) was filmed in Santa Barbara County, California, and depicts the human comedy of male and female relationships.Sideways was also reported to be the “best-reviewed movie” of the year. It won multiple awards and all of the main characters received accolades for their performances. The Santa Ynez Valley, where many scenes were filmed, is still benefitting from increased tourism—and the joys of drinking Pinot Noirin particular caused the sales of this grape variety to skyrocket.

City Slickers(1991) is a comic foray into the canyonland beauty of the Southwest United States. The movie follows three friends wanting an escape from their routine rut. The answer? A two-week cattle drive on the Colorado Plateau crossing Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. Their trip is one of self-discovery and becomes far more dangerous when the tour leader dies and they are forced to complete the cattle drive alone.

Into The Wild(2007) gives us a taste of life in the Alaska frontier when the main character abandons his material lifestyle in search of authenticity. He hitchhikes across many lower states and eventually reaches Alaska, where the forbidding wilderness quickly earns his respect.

Latin America

Motorcycle Diaries(2004) invites you to live vicariously withChé Guevara and his friend Alberto as their characters bike across Argentina, Peru, Chile, Colombia and Venezuela. This fascinating film was shot on location for every scene you see, including those in Lima, Caracas and Machu Picchu. The scene at a leper colony in San Pablo, Peru, is the actual place visited by Ché and Alberto.


A Room with a View(1985) takes you and the main female character to Florence, Italy, where its magic plays with her emotions in ways she never expected. Florence is a city of the arts, red rooftops, Renaissance architecture and the masterpieces of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. All of these charms are clustered in one or two central squares, making it pretty easy for a visitor to get a room with a view, too.

Before Sunrise(1995) might easily inspire you to discover Europe all on your own beginning in Austria. In this film a young Parisian woman meets an American man on a train. Within a short period of time they find themselves exchanging their hopes and dreams, then his station stop suddenly arrives. Just as they’re about to separate, he convinces her to jump off the train with him in Vienna—and the romance of this discovery begins.

Barry Lyndon(1975) is an epic story amongst 18th-century landscapes, villages and castles of Ireland, England and Germany. The storyline starts with a young farm boy named Redmond Barry professing love of his cousin, Nora Brady. When Nora’s fiancé challenges Barry to a duel of pistols, Barry wins, however his flight from the law and into an unknown future begins. Location scenes include Powerscourt House, Blenheim Palace, Castle Howard, Corsham Court, Dunrobin Castle, Wilton House and Dublin Castle.


Out of Africa(1985) lands us deep in the heart of Kenya in the creative hands of director Sydney Pollack as he presents his story of a well-heeled Danish lady who buys 1,000 farmland acres in the early 1900s. Immediately, her personal life takes a twist sending her on an epic journey of survival, resourcefulness and leadership as events of the First World War are also woven into the splendour and surprises of the African plains.

Asia and South Pacific

House of Flying Daggers(2004) showcases China in an unusual blend of martial arts and romantic love. The use of strong colour is captivating. Several scenes are bright yellow—and when we venture into the bamboo forest, the screen is completely filled with green. The fight scene at the end is set in a blizzard so the actors—and their blood—are vivid in the whiteout. Ensuring authenticity, the period costumes, props and decorations were taken almost entirely from Chinese art.

Lost in Translation(2003) is a compelling introduction to Tokyo as we watch the story unfold between a middle-age American film actor and college graduate, both disillusioned in life for different reasons and both married to other people. This award-winning film deals skilfully with issues such as alienation and loneliness while it introduces an alternative: reaching out for a taste of the world around us with all the rewards of sharing it.

The Beach(2000) takes us to Thailand with a young backpacker Richard, whowants to disconnect with his pop-culture lifestyle in search of adventures in a land with more liberties. Bangkok delivers, but he soon finds out about the secret island paradise called Koh Samui with its extraordinary beaches and its reputation of growing “unlimited supplies” of marijuana. Richard’s quest leads to a perilous but enthralling journey of action, seduction and satire. The worldwide attention given this movie has now guaranteed a steady flow of tourists to Koh Samui.   

The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2003) took eight years of filming in the parklands of New Zealand. This timeless tale of the fabled ring follows the friends of the hobbit to 150 different locations including mountains, snow, darkness, forests, rivers and plains where they face evil and danger at every turn. TheRings director Peter Jackson was born in New Zealand, a fact witnessed by his extraordinary intimacy with these magical landscapes.

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