Five of the best travel movies

Travel broadens the mind, and we have chosen some of the best movies that celebrate going on a journey…

TRACKS is released in Irish cinemas this week, and tells the story of a young woman named Robyn – played by Mia Wasikowska – who decides to get away from civilisation, and walk 1,700 miles across the Australian desert with four camels and her faithful dog. Based on a true story, Robyn’s journey in TRACKS got us thinking about other epic movie journeys that are less about the destination, than the journey. We gathered together five of our favourite movies that are not so much about being somewhere, more what being there brings out in the characters.


Based on Homer’s tale The Odyssey, O BROTHER stars George Clooney as Ulysses Everett McGill who, along with two other men, escapes a chain gang and sets out to retrieve $1,200,000 in hidden treasure before returning home to his wife. Along the road, Ulysses and his cohorts see many wonders, including a man who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for being able to play the guitar, three sirens and a Ku Klux Klan rally.
O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU? is a film that celebrates the beauty – and slight craziness – of the Southern US in the Great Depression and, although Ulysses eventually gets to where he wants to go, his travels make him a more understanding and rounded man, one who is capable of winning his estranged wife back. The title of the film is a reference to another great American road movie; SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS.


Peter (Adrien Brody), Francis (Owen Wilson) and Jack (Jason Schwartzman) take the luxury Darjeeling Limited train across India, in the hopes of being reunited with their mother. The three brothers have not seen one another since their father’s funeral, and the train journey was planned by Francis in the hopes that the three can make a spiritual discovery about themselves.
As the three journey across India, they discover the secrets that they are keeping from one another, fight over who was their father’s favourite and get thrown off the train for their odd and disruptive behaviour.
THE DARJEELING LIMITED is a film that is less about three brothers visiting their mother, and more about three adult siblings trying to lay their differences to rest. The three eventually reveal their truths to one another and learn to accept each other, flaws and all.


Martin McDonagh’s film focuses on two hit men – played by Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell – who are told to hide out in the small Belgian town of Bruges, after a hit goes wrong. At first the two are less than pleased to be in one another’s company, and Ray (Colin Farrell) struggles to come to terms with the botched hit. The longer the two men spend together, the more we realise that to them, Bruges is hell; Ray is going through hell with the guilt he is suffering and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) is seemingly forced to spend eternity with someone he cares little for.
IN BRUGES is a film set in a beautiful town, but it is not a film that is about a pretty corner of Belgium; instead the film is a chronicle of grief, guilt and death and, as Ray muses in the film’s final moments, perhaps hell for him is staying in Bruges forever.


Sofia Coppola’s second film tells the story of the unlikely friendship between aging actor Bob Harris (Bill Murray) and college graduate Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) who find themselves relying on one another after a chance meeting in a Tokyo hotel. Each feels utterly alone in this strange city, and each is struggling with the choices they have made in their life.
LOST IN TRANSLATION, again, is not a film about Tokyo or Japan as a whole, instead, Coppola captures the ideas of loneliness, boredom, melancholia and finding someone to confide in, if only for a moment. Although Coppola has said that the film is a valentine to Tokyo and to the Park Hyatt Hotel – which she has described as one of her favourite places in the world – there is a feeling in the film, that these two characters could be both anywhere, and nowhere at the same time.


Perhaps Peter O’Toole’s most famous role was the title character in LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. During World War I, Lawrence travels to Arabia and spends several years there as a lieutenant in the British Army. Lawrence swings between being an Imperialist and a hero, and although he initially sets out across Arabia to assess the prospects of a British ally, it is not long before he is involved in a guerrilla war.
LAWRENCE OF ARABIA is famed for it’s beautiful cinematography, and shows the character of TE Lawrence as a complex man, curious about the world he finds himself in, but that ultimately, his journey is one of self discovery and not just one across Arabia.


TRACKS is released in Irish cinemas on April 25th

Words: Brogen Hayes