We take a look at the best films about… um… Walking.

WILD is released in Irish cinemas this week, and stars Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl Strayed, a woman who hikes 4,286 km across America on the Pacific Crest Trail. Witherspoon is at her best in WILD, and since she undertakes such an epic journey by foot, Movies.ie decided to take a look back at the films that feature long walks tyo greatness.

TRACKS

In 1977, Robyn Davidson (Mia Wasikowska) decided to walk 2,000 miles across the Australian desert; from Alice Springs to the ocean. Robyn’s only companions over the six-month journey were to be four camels and her dog; the solitude was something she craved.
Robyn Davidson’s story is one that has inspired people around the world, since it was first published in The National Geographic Magazine in 1978. On her journey, photographer Rick Smolan – played in the film by Adam Driver – met up with Davidson along the way to document her journey for the magazine.

THE LORD OF THE RINGS Trilogy

Peter Jackson’s first trip to Middle Earth was all about the journey; three little Hobbits walk from their home in The Shire to the dangerous lands of Mordor, to destroy the One True Ring in the fires of Mount Doom.
As famously lampooned in Kevin Smith’s CLERKS II, THE LORD OF THE RINGS films are all about walking; it takes three films for the Hobbits to make their journey – albeit with some dangerous stops along the way. JRR Tolkien was so aware that his book series was about walking, that he created a Walking Song for the Hobbits to sing on their journey, although the song didn’t make it into the films.

THE WAY BACK

In 1940, seven prisoners escape a Siberian prison and begin the long walk to freedom with little food and even fewer supplies. Although they know that the journey across some of the world’s most challenging terrain will be fraught with danger, they would rather take the chance and die free men than as Stalin’s prisoners.
THE WAY BACK stars Saoirse Ronan, Mark Strong, Colin Farrell and Jim Sturgess, and director Peter Weir obviously took pains for this epic and arduous journey to look as real as possible on screen. The characters trek through desert and snow alike, on their long quest to freedom.

STAND BY ME

In the 1950s, four friends set out to become local heroes, by finding the body of a young boy who went missing from their town. The four trek overnight along the rail line where, they believe, the boy was hit by a train. Along the way, the four open up to their friends, learn a little more about one another, and even more about themselves.
STAND BY ME, based on Steven King’s novel and directed by Rob Reiner, is a true coming of age tale and, not unlike TRACKS focuses on what happens when people spend time isolated and alone. The film also stars some of the finest young actors of the 1980s, including Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman, Wil Wheaton and John Cusack.

THE WAY

After the death of his son, Thomas Avery (Martin Sheen) sets out to hike the Camino de Stantiago to Galicia, Spain. The Camino is where his son died, and Thomas’s journey starts out as being one to retrieve his son’s body. Along the way, however, Thomas makes some unlikely friends and, in grief, decides to pay homage to his son and complete the entire hike, taking his son’s ashes with him.
THE WAY was directed by Sheen’s son, Emilio Estevez, so the feeling of father son bonding, and the idea that the Camino means different things to different people, is strong throughout the film. Sheen is great as the bereaved father, and the film is earnest, heartfelt and beautifully shot.

Honourable Mentions to: RABBIT PROOF FENCE, THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY, FORREST GUMP and WALKABOUT.

WILD is released in Irish cinemas on January 16th 2014

Words: Brogen Hayes