I've been really inspired by traveling this week — both because of my own itch to go on an adventure and because I have a handful of friends who are either planning their honeymoon or enjoying it right now. As part of my travel urge, I got to thinking about movies that captured a culture and a country so well that they've made me add a new entry to my list of places I have vowed to visit. Come away with me on a mini-jaunt around the globe via this movie night!
Out of Africa
This Oscar-winning classic directed by the late Sydney Pollack starred Meryl Streep and an extremely dreamy Robert Redford, but the biggest star of the film is East Africa. The movie is loosely based on Karen Blixen's 1937 autobiography about her real-life journey to Kenya. The character based on Blixen enters a loveless marriage but then meets Redford's character, a local-game hunter, and an epic romance ensues. The movie was filmed on location and is breathtakingly beautiful. If this doesn't make you consider Africa as a travel destination, I don't know what will.
Two more glorious locations, so read more.
Most people probably don't need their arms twisted to stick France on their travel list, but when a movie comes along that captures that certain je ne sais quoi of the French countryside, vineyards, and coast, it makes not being there feel nearly intolerable. French Kiss is one of those movies, and it stars Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline as unlikely partners in a trek across France. She's on a mission to get her cheating fiance back, and he's a petty criminal who helps her as a means to reach his own goal of buying back a vineyard he lost. Their chemistry is charming, but the way the film captures the spirit and nonchalance of the place is what makes it a lovely vicarious trip abroad.
Sex and Lucia
To call this movie racy is probably an understatement. The word "sex" is in the title for good reason, because there's a lot of it in this mystical Spanish film — and it's pretty explicitly discussed and enacted. You've been warned. That said, nearly five years after I first saw this, what sticks with me are the unbelievably gorgeous shots of nature: the azure skies and ocean set against the snow-white sands of Spain's Balearic Islands. After this movie, this semi-remote location has remained high on my list of places to get myself to.