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Grab Your Backpack: Motivational Films For Wanderlust Sufferers And Adventure Junkies

We have all watched a globetrotter movie at some point and thought “man, I want to do that!” Regardless of if you’re an avid adventurer or a couch potato, film can ignite that urge for discovery and make audiences want to grab life by the horns. Whilst most wanderlust movies satisfy a craving for exploration, I have realised that only

Grab Your Backpack: Motivational Films For Wanderlust Sufferers And Adventure Junkies

We have all watched a globetrotter movie at some point and thought “man, I want to do that!” Regardless of if you’re an avid adventurer or a couch potato, film can ignite that urge for discovery and make audiences want to grab life by the horns.

Whilst most wanderlust movies satisfy a craving for exploration, I have realised that only a select few have the power to truly motivate viewers, making them want to escape their lives of comfort and luxury and replace it with blisters and exhaustion. It is time to acknowledge and give praise to those films that incentivise exploration and travel, as they not only inspire us to see the world, they also encourage us to discover and truly understand ourselves in the process.

If They Can Do It, So Can I

Autobiographical stories and real life accounts transformed into motion pictures are the epitome of encouragement when it comes to considering an expedition. Whether it’s based on a book written first-hand by the brave soul who ventured out into the world like Robyn Davidson’s Tracks and Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, or biographical reportings of those who didn’t manage to survive their odyssey such as Christopher McCandless’s story, written by Jon Krakauer in Into The Wild.

These three movies all take place in different parts of the world and the subjects encounter vastly different external experiences. However, they emit a similar internal message: detach from people, places and patterns in order to gain a greater understanding of life and ultimately, yourself.

Grab Your Backpack: Motivational Films For Wanderlust Sufferers And Adventure Junkies

Tracks (2013) – source: See-Saw Films

John Curran’s 2013 film Tracks is based on a 28-year-old Australian woman who decided to walk 1,700 miles across the deserts of the Outback from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean in 1977, accompanied by four camels and her dog. Visually, the film is striking, especially from the perspective of someone living on the other side of the world, instantly triggering a desire to go and see the beauty of Australia, even before the expedition is underway.

Robyn Davidson (played by Mia Wasikowska) faces a variety of life-threatening and upsetting obstacles throughout her trek, and what holds the audience’s astonishment is her ability to remain so collected as she faces her problems head on and does what she needs to do in order to survive.

Davidson is an introvert and lone wolf, and her prickly attitude to those around her is understandable, especially from a feminist perspective, as she is constantly being urged either not to pursue her mission or asked if she wants help and company. Her determined and nonconformist attitude is the ultimate hook, as she sets out to do what she wants and achieves it.

As the movie accounts for a true story, it informs us that we as human beings are capable of more than we think. Davidson isn’t some fictitious character; she is an archetype of vivacity, inspiring audiences and young girls especially. Curran’s movie exquisitely captures Davidson’s pursuit for the meaning of life.

Nostalgia and Sentiment

Oddly, most movies that feature a campfire and a tent with the intention of rekindling relationships and lost memories end in a bloodbath, for example Black Rock, Preservation and Eden Lake. However, the initial aim is something all adventure-goers have done or considered: returning to that childhood hideout or exploring somewhere new with your best buds.

Travel and adventure doesn’t have to be as strenuous as people think, as it can be as simple as pitching up a tent in the woods and soaking in the surroundings like the angsty teens in British TV series Skins, for example. But ultimately, there is one movie that captures nostalgic adventure like no other: the lighthearted comedy Without A Paddle.

Grab Your Backpack: Motivational Films For Wanderlust Sufferers And Adventure Junkies

Without a Paddle (2004) – source: Paramount Pictures

After their friend dies, three men (Matthew Lillard, Seth Green and Dax Shepard) decide to fulfill their childhood dream by going on a camping expedition for the lost D. B. Cooper bounty, yet the trip doesn’t go as smoothly as they planned. They stumble across a weed farm, and during the farmers’ pursuit for the trespassers, they end up burning the grass. This hilarious comedy tells a tale of trust and friendship, as they come face-to-face with their own individual fears on the way (some more rational than others).

The start of the film opens up with a montage of the protagonists as children, running around in the woods planning their trip to find hidden treasure, and as the film progresses we learn that the friends have drifted apart and lead very different lives. The death of one of their childhood friends ignites their need for rekindling, allowing them to revoke the trifling habits that they have acquired over the years and return to their roots.

This film reminds audiences of what is important in life, though in a lighthearted and comedic manner. It highlights the annoyances and perks of camping, as well as survival techniques, which director Stephen Brill used to his advantage, making the men huddle for warmth with the accompaniment of R.Kelly‘s Bump N’ Grind. Comedy aside, the film captures a life-changing experience between best friends that, above all, saves them from themselves.

Fill Up The Tank

Not everyone has a burning desire to walk a thousand miles or swim across oceans when watching these globetrotter movies, instead one might want to simply explore the world and see something different without the aches and pains of physical activity (something we can all understand).

Sometimes movies emphasise the world’s beauty and encourage you to purchase that plane ticket and go see different walks of life, instead of hiking miles to get there. Examples of the less strenuous travelling experience can be seen in Lost In Translation, Hector and the Search For Happiness, Little Miss Sunshine and Eat, Pray, Love.

Grab Your Backpack: Motivational Films For Wanderlust Sufferers And Adventure Junkies

Eat, Pray, Love (2010) – source: Plan B Entertainment

Eat, Pray, Love explores the story of Liz (Julia Roberts), a recent divorcée who decides to leave her comfortable, middle-class life in America behind to travel to Italy, India and Bali. At each destination she discovers a new aspect of leading a happier life, including prayer, nourishment, love and balance.

Liz’s journey isn’t about pushing herself physically, it is rather the contrary: she exercises her mental strength in a bid to cure the numbness and detachment she feels in her everyday life. Liz goes in a different direction as voyagers Cheryl Strayed and Robyn Davidson; his protagonist is looking for the answers internally, through food, meditation and love, whereas Strayed and Davidson’s realizations came from physical and arduous activity, externally to internally.

The story is deeply inspiring, especially for those who are looking for spiritual guidance and inner peace. The title of this film infers some kind of religious outlook; however, the tale is more about finding your own beliefs, and discovering whatever it takes to remove the cluttered, unnecessary thoughts from the mind so it is open to bigger ideas.

These films encourage the inner explorer, they do not discriminate based on gender, age or class. Click to Tweet

Since the film is set in four different locations, it educates audiences as well as the protagonist on different cultures and ways of life, and Liz’s time in all these places, combined with the people she meets and the lessons they teach, ultimately hand her what she has been looking for.

Conclusion

There are a variety of different sub-genres when it comes to adventure and globetrotter movies, from survival and man vs. nature to sea adventures and desert epics, and they all try and radiate a similar message of harnessing all you can from life. These films encourage the inner daredevil and explorer, and they do not discriminate based on gender, age, class, etc. They simply offer audiences a guide for life.

If any one of these films can encourage someone to fly/sail/walk/swim to the other side of the world or even pitch a tent in a local field, then it will have served a great purpose. The moral in all of them ultimately enforces the idea that it’s not about where you end up or where you begin; all that matters is the journey and what you find within.

Other notable films include: Captain Ron, Point Break, The Beach, One Week, The Way, Everest, The Bucket List and Away We Go.

Which film(s) have inspired you to go on an adventure? Share your thoughts and comments!

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Opinions expressed in our articles are those of the authors and not of the Film Inquiry magazine.

Rachael Sampson is a third year university student in York pursuing a career in the film industry as a screenwriter. She has directed, written and produced a short titled In Bloom, and has a credit in the BAFTA nominated film The Selfish Giant. She likes to critically analyse films, alongside writing articles that regard film theory or discuss the work of cinematic icons. She firmly believes that Pirates of the Caribbean should have remained a trilogy and thinks Inglourious Basterds is the greatest movie ever made.

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