14 March 2012

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Four Fab Films to Inspire Your Travels

I would defy anyone to watch Mamma Mia and not yearn to hop on a plane then and there and travel to a beautiful Greek island. A few years after watching the film, I did it, and found one of the dreamiest beaches ever. Kassiopi in Crete was covered with pure white, perfectly round pebbles and was fringed with black pines on one side and sea the colour of cobalt blue on the other.  You could gaze over from your private beach to the wild lands of Albania and imagine all sorts of stories to keep you entertained. I will never forget it.

Films have an irresistible power to draw us to travel.  A skilled film director can frame an area's beauty like an artist and draw out hidden curios. I happen to love Abba (it's a family thing), but even if you don't, just plug your ears when a song comes on in Mamma Mia and enjoy the view. You will dream of lazy summers spent reading, eating and exploring tiny, forgotten coves. Yes it's cheesy and Pierce Brosnan singing sounds more like a whale's call but what girl in her right mind wouldn't want to be lifted out of a crystalline Mediterranean sea by Dominic Cooper?

These days, there are more excuses than ever not to travel, especially for extended periods of time. Understandably, people are worried about their jobs being there when they get back. Fear shouldn't be a motivator and I'll borrow an oft used phrase to explain why: ‘you only live once’. One of the greatest regrets of the dying is not living the life they wanted to so, if you're hesitating about whether to go on that trip to volunteer abroad, watch one of these films and you will be sold!

Here are films that never fail to get that wanderlust bubbling in me. They could spark an idea for a romantic weekend, a family holiday in the sun, or some life-changing volunteer work abroad.  No excuses: all you need to do is picture yourself there, save a bit of cash and go. Easy!

The Talented Mr Ripley
Mr Ripley does for Italian islands what Mamma Mia does for Greek ones. The imaginary resort of Mongibello, where Dickie Greenleaf and his girlfriend Marge are idling away their summer is represented by two islands. One is the stunning Ischia, which forms a trio of volcanic islands in the Bay of Naples whilst Procida, a neighbouring islet, is the other. The film depicts Dickie zooming up the cobbled streets of the hilly and colourful Coricella on his moped to meet Marge. Busy market scenes will make you lust after the idea of grilling your own fish on an open fire.

Monsoon Wedding
Entirely set in New Delhi, this film narrates several threads surrounding a huge Punjabi wedding. The characters are unforgettable, not least PK Dubay, the hyperactive wedding contractor who has a penchant for munching on marigolds. The rich tapestry of the Verma family takes centre stage revealing joy and tragedy in equal measure. This film perfectly captures the energy and colour of India which make it such an amazing country to visit.

The Motorcycle Diaries
The South American landscapes in this film are breathtaking. Flitting between lush forests, sun scorched deserts and fog-shrouded mountains, the whole film serves as a very effective travel brochure for the whole of South America. You follow Ernesto (Che) Guevara (played by Gael Garcìa Bernal) and his travelling companion Alberto Granado through Argentina, the Andes, Chile and Peru, among others. Ernesto Guevara's youthful hedonism at the start of the film gradually gives way to awareness of the plight of so many people less fortunate than himself. The real Che Guevara's observations of the extreme rural poverty were recorded in his travel log and inspired his revolutionary ideals.

If you're unsure about where you'd like to go, watch Alejandro González Iñárritu's Babel. Filming locations show off the best of Morocco, the USA, Mexico and Japan so you will be spoiled for choice. The desert scenes with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett in Morocco are beautiful if unsettling, while the city scenes in Tokyo will make you desperate to experience that Japanese quirkiness. Scenes of a Mexican wedding will have you wondering why we have such formal events here. Theirs seems so much more joyful, a riot of colour, spices and intoxicating food smells.

About Today's Contributor:
Lalage Wordsworth has just returned from doing some volunteer work abroad in France

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