Movies have the magic to take us far across the world without leaving the comfort of home. Some of the best films are about travel and self-realization.
Here are 10 amazing movies about self-discovery in distant lands.
Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
In Under the Tuscan Sun (2003), a writer named Frances Mayes (Diane Lane) learns her husband has an affair. After a messy divorce, she attempts to find herself and reignite her spark for writing. She takes a tour of Italy and impulsively buys a rundown villa in Tuscany. The film follows her on a journey of starting over, self-discovery, love, friendship, home renovation, and learning new local customs.
Lost in Translation (2003)
Bill Murray plays movie star Bob Harris in Lost in Translation (2003). He stumbles upon a neglected young woman named Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) while filming a whiskey commercial in Tokyo. Charlotte is passing her days in boredom while her photographer boyfriend, John (GiovanniRibisi), spends his time busy with work. The two form an unlikely bond, learning a little about themselves and a lot about life on the way.
Into the Wild (2007)
Into the Wild (2007) is based on the true story of University student Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch). Although McCandless was a top student and athlete, he abandons all his worldly possessions in pursuit of self-realization. He gives his savings of $24,000 to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to start over. While living alone and off the land, he learns that life is for sharing with those you love.
Eat Pray Love (2010)
After a painful divorce, Elizabeth Gilbert (Julia Roberts) embarks on a journey of discovery and healing. She travels around the world on a quest for happiness. During her year abroad, she explores three different aspects of herself, including devotion in Italy, balance in India, and self-love in Bali. The name of the film genuinely encapsulates its premise, resulting in a destination-filled film of food, devotion, and romance.
The Way (2010)
In The Way (2010), ophthalmologist Tom (Martin Sheen) travels to Spain to recover the body of his estranged son, Daniel (Emilio Estevez), who died hiking the Camino de Santiago. Overtaken by grief and trying to find some understanding of his son’s choices, Tom picks up where his son left off. He makes new friends and learns a lot about himself, his son, and their relationship along the way. This is a tear-jerker.
Letters to Juliet (2010)
Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) and her fiancé Victor (Gael García Bernal) travel to Italy for Victor’s business and a pre-wedding honeymoon. The two find themselves separated at every turn as Victor is busy with work. When Sophie stumbles upon an organization called The Secretaries of Juliet, she finds herself on an adventure to recover the long-lost love of a woman named Claire (Vanessa Redgrave). Along the way, Sophie finds a little love of her own, leading her to wonder if she’s living a non-romantic romance.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)
In The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011), a group of British retirees travels to India. They take up residence in a supposedly newly restored hotel but quickly learn it’s less luxurious than advertised. The retirees live life to the fullest, nonetheless, and learn a lot about themselves and life after retirement. This star-studded cast includes Dame Judi Dench (Chocolat), Bill Nighy (Love Actually), Dame Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey), and Tom Wilkinson (The Full Monty).
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) is a photography employee for Life Magazine. He develops some of the most exciting photos from around the world but is too afraid to do anything of consequence himself. Recently, the magazine has decided to do online-only publications. When Mitty loses the cover photo for the last print issue of the magazine, he sets out to find the photographer himself. A dizzy daydreamer, Mitty encounters many real and imaginary situations, finally living the adventure he always dreamed of.
In the widely acclaimed Wild (2014), Reese Witherspoon (Cruel Intentions) plays Cheryl Strayed. The film is based on Strayed’s memoir and the true story of her journey to overcome grief and addiction. Strayed hikes the Pacific Crest Trail, mourning the death of her late mother and her recently dissolved marriage. Wild is one of many travel films based on books.
Hector and the Search for Happiness (2014)
A disillusioned psychiatrist named Hector (Simon Pegg) embarks on a quest for happiness. Hector’s journey takes him from China into Africa and to the United States. He meets a wide range of characters, experiences life in a new light, and undergoes some truly enlightening experiences.
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