Jimmy Russell, Staff Writer

Kindle your wanderlust and feel inspired to find adventure as you evoke the magic of travel via film.

From Singapore to the Scottish Highlands, captivating film locations often play a starring role. We’ve rounded up 10 of our favourite movies to remind us of the beauty out there waiting for us.

For unspoilt wilderness…The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

Ben Stiller plays reclusive daydreamer Walter, who is forced to live out his overactive imagination in this whimsical adventure based on James Thurber’s short story.  An inspiring story of self-discovery, the film’s true star is Iceland’s breathtaking scenery as Walter’s globetrotting takes him to bewitching, beautiful and often brutal terrains. Most notable are the scenes shot in Grundarfjörður (home to the 700,000-year-old glacier-capped stratovolcano Snaefellsjokull) and Seydisfjordur, where a colourful array of antique wooden houses lines the waterfront and the Eyjafjallajökull volcano provides a grandiose backdrop.

For gritty urban streetscapes… Unknown (2011)

Dr Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) is due to address a conference before a car accident on Berlin’s Oberbaum Bridge places him in a coma. Upon awakening, he discovers that no one recognises him, and another man has assumed his identity. Join Martin, alone and confused, as he takes to Berlin’s concrete jungle in search for answers. His quest leads him to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Museum Island, through the industrial Brunnenstrasse neighbourhood, into the legendary German techno club Tresor (set in an abandoned power plant) and down the cultural hotspot of Friedrichstrasse. Apart from its unexpected plot twist, Berlin’s grey, muted cityscapes, and subtle emotional resonances create a thrilling piece of cinema.

For wild, natural beauty… Lord of the Rings (2001)

A thrilling tale of a wild quest undertaken by young hobbit Frodo (Elijah Wood) and his valiant friends, the Lord of the Rings trilogy is Peter Jackson’s award-winning adaptation of J.R.R Tolkien’s classic novels of magic, redemption, and dark powers. Filmed entirely in New Zealand, over 150 real locations were used for the landscapes of Middle-earth. From the lush, rolling green hills of Matamata and native forested areas and rivers of Wellington, to Queenstown’s snowy jagged mountain peaks, you will soon see why this dream destination continues to inspire wanderlust and fantasy writers across the world.

For 1920s city chic … Midnight in Paris (2011)

Part fantasy, part reality, Midnight in Paris follows Gil Pender (Owen Wilson), an unfulfilled Hollywood screenwriter on vacation in Paris with his fiancé Inez (Rachel McAdams). While retracing the monument-lined boulevards and classical bistros of his beloved Parisian creatives, Gil is mysteriously whisked back in time every evening at midnight for revelry among the literati of the 1920s. One of the movie’s greatest strengths is that it functions like a dream tour of Paris — including the very real Monet’s Garden (which inspired some of the world’s most famous impressionist paintings), Pont Alexandre III (considered one of the most elegant bridges in the world) Quai de la Tournelle (which offers a breathtaking view of the Seine River and Notre Dame), and, of course, the stupendous Eiffel Tower.

To rekindle the romance of the rails … Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

Based on best-selling author Agatha Christie’s crime-fiction novel, this 2017 remake is a lavish love letter to European train travel, which unfolds into one of the most stylish, suspenseful mysteries ever told. A tale of 13 strangers stranded on the most storied set of carriages in the world, renowned detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) is called aboard to solve a murder before the killer strikes again. Loosely based on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express route, the fateful train itself epitomises the glamour and elegance of the Golden Age of travel en route to Calais.

For a fairytale in New York… Enchanted (2007)

Join Giselle (Amy Adams) as she is sent from the magical land of Andalasia to the mean streets of New York City by an evil queen. Giselle must strive for her fairytale happy ending amid the chaos of the city, navigating the quirks of New York along the way. While the story is thoroughly fantasy, the backdrops are as real as they are beautiful. From run-ins with a prince in Times Square to shopping in Manhattan and belting out a musical number in Central Park, this is frivolous fun in the big city with a side of iconic sightseeing.

To see how the other half live… Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

Crazy Rich Asians follows Rachel (Constance Wu) as she accompanies her boyfriend Nick (Henry Golding) to spend the summer with his family in Singapore. Unaware his family is one of the richest in Asia, she is unexpectedly whisked away on a luxury adventure through the island. A wanderlust-inspiring advert for Singapore, Crazy Rich Asians leads you on a visual journey to the glittering trees of Gardens by the Bay, the sky-high luxury of Marina Bay Sands, the white sands of Sentosa and the foodie feasts of the city’s hawker halls. Whether you have been before or it is still on the bucket list, Crazy Rich Asians will leave you wanting more.

For California dreaming… Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)

Set in Los Angeles, where beautiful illusions are built on rolling hills of wealth, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a 161-minute love letter to 1960s Tinseltown and the beauty of California. From writer-director Quentin Tarantino, the movie follows the struggles of actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) in a city that has all but forgotten them. Memorable set pieces abound in this confrontationally imperfect fairy-tale, as every shot vibrates with verisimilitude without the help of much digital technology — and many iconic Californian locations still open today. Hollywood history hangs in the thick air at the city’s oldest restaurant Musso & Frank Grill, and the long-standing cinema and theatre-related Larry Edmunds Bookshop. Down the road, sun-faded El Coyote Café remains largely unchanged since Sharon Tate’s final seating, and the 316 hexagons of the towering geodesic Cinerama Dome still host movie premieres today.

For rugged Scottish countryside… Skyfall (2012)

Starring Daniel Craig as the iconic James Bond, Skyfall sees the suave secret agent not only test his loyalty but return to his Scottish roots by visiting his family home, Skyfall Lodge. Filmed in the spectacular heart of the Scottish Highlands, Glen Etive and Glen Coe captivated Bond fans around the world as the unbilled stars of the film. These stunning locations have featured in many Hollywood classics, including the Harry Potter series and Braveheart, and it’s easy to see why, given their spectacular lochs surrounded by towering mountains, deep rugged valleys full of tributary streams and heather-covered moorlands.

To discover the mystery of the desert … Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

While George Miller’s post-apocalyptic Mad Max: Fury Road delivers an impressive amount of star power (Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron​ and Nicholas Hoult all feature), it’s the dramatic crimson dunes, cracked desert floors and stark mountain ranges of Namibia that steal the show. The breathtaking, barren topography dazzles in a magnificent wasteland where everyone is battling to survive. Thrilling and inspiring, it is a window into the desert beauty of Namibia with a side of jaw-dropping action that completely immerses you in the country’s blood-red landscapes.


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