Film and travel are inexplicably intertwined. Before social networks such as Instagram projected travel envy onto us all in our daily lives, the main inspiration to travel came from books and films. However, while books can paint a mental image for us (hands up who’d love to travel to Hogwarts?), films provide a visual portal for us to be transported to a whole new world. But does this mean that we choose not to travel simply because we’ve ‘experienced it vicariously’ in all the films available to us? Julia Roberts has shown me Naples, India and Bali in Eat, Pray, Love and Adam Sandler has shown me the delights of Oahu in 50 First Dates, but that does not mean I’m abandoning my daydreams about booking a flight to Hawaii any time soon.
Films provide a visual portal for us to be transported to a whole new world
While films about travel inspire us, there is inspiration to be found in every genre. Even my boyfriend mentioned the film In Bruges when we were deciding on where to visit on our holiday to Belgium. The interesting thing about films is that they have such an impact on our cultural landscape, with reviews, awards, appearances on the Graham Norton Show and the likes, that we are inundated with access to new places without even searching for it. Just because I’m heavily avoiding the Fifty Shades Darker hype, doesn’t mean that I haven’t seen Seattle’s Space Needle and a glorious night skyline in the adverts. We are exposed to images and sounds of places we may not have been to, making films such a powerful tool for experiencing and inspiring travel. For the price of a cinema ticket we could be in Paris, Australia or New York, and even though the ratio of trips to Netflix binges is typically 1:1000 you can’t deny that films have a huge influence on the destinations we choose. For me personally, my family and I love the film Last Vegas and last summer I was lucky enough to actually visit Las Vegas (or unlucky enough, seeing as I’m underage and therefore I couldn’t drink, gamble or go out). Although the film is about four OAPs going wild in Vegas, which obviously couldn’t be further from our family holiday, the places they visited genuinely inspired us on our trip. If we hadn’t seen that film, I doubt we would have visited Downtown Las Vegas, which was definitely an experience I would not recommend although it did provide a lot of laughs.
We are inundated with access to new places without even searching for it
However, we do have to consider that the destinations portrayed in films are undoubtedly perfected by camera crews and are ultimately fabricated. The destinations we are exposed to are highly edited, and depicted in a way that fits the genre and storyline. Speaking as someone who loves a good Rom-Com and watches films with a Western target audience 99% of the time, I do understand that movies whitewash travel experiences to appeal to the viewer. When we watch something like The Devil Wears Prada, we are so caught up in the glamorous sights of New York skyscrapers and Paris fashion week that we forget to notice that there aren’t homeless people on 5th Avenue, or that the Parisians aren’t ignoring all of the characters. It’s not outrageous to argue that the most accurate portrayals of foreign destinations have come from the more autobiographical type of films. The recently released Lion showed a seemingly realistic picture of both rural and urban India for the homeless, partly because its plot was based on a true story (not forgetting its accurate depiction of the gorgeous face of Dev Patel). That being said, I’m definitely not put off by my awareness of the embellishment that must surround the destinations shown in some films; it only makes me more determined to visit a place myself and make my own judgement. As for me, I’ve been wanting to travel to China for years – I won’t say I loved Jaden Smith’s acting, but The Karate Kid was pretty good.
The destinations portrayed in films are undoubtedly perfected by camera crews and are ultimately fabricated