Four far-flung flicks to whet your travel appetite
by Erin Keane
Movies romanticize their subjects, playing up emotions and capturing dramatic vistas. They’re also a dynamic resource for globetrotting students. Though we don’t suggest planning your time abroad as a research trip for your own screenplay, these movies will certainly prepare you for some of the deeper issues you’re sure to encounter after you hop the pond.
Before Sunrise: Romance reigns supreme in this flick about a young American backpacker who meets a beautiful French woman on a train to Austria. Over the course of a day, the pair wrestles with fleeting romance and the self-discovery that comes from mingling cultures.
“Some of my best memories of studying in Dublin are from the trips that weren’t meticulously planned,” says Notre Dame alum Caitlin Murphy. “Be safe and trust your instincts. However, to make the most of your time abroad I think you have to be spontaneous and let yourself get lost.”
Watch For: Weiner Reisenrad, translated as “giant Ferris wheel,” in the Prater amusement park in Vienna. The 15-gondola wheel was erected in 1897 to celebrate Emperor Franz Josef’s Golden Jubilee and is the site of the main characters’ first kiss.
L’Auberge Espagnole: Translated as “The Spanish Apartment,” this quintessential study abroad movie tells the story of a young Frenchman named Xavier living in a Barcelona apartment with six other students from Western Europe. By the end of his year abroad he finds his life will never be the same again.
Watch For: The Parc Güell, a housing development-turned-garden by famous Catalan architect Antoni Gaudì. Built between 1900 and 1914, the parc's main terrace is where [Spoiler Alert!] Xavier’s affair with a married woman begins and ends.
Lost in Translation: This Academy Award-winning film addresses themes of loneliness, existentialism and romance through the unlikely relationship of an aging movie star and a young newlywed. The backdrop of modern day Tokyo is a character itself, representing the culture shock and sensory overload that go along with visiting a foreign country.
Watch For: The Heian Jingu Shrine in Kyoto, a Shinto shrine built to house deified former emperors.
Pass through the famed gate, which is one of the largest in Japan, and visit the Minami Shin’en (or South Garden) to see where the character Charlotte walked.
“There is something kind of magical about walking through the gate and leaving the busy city behind,” says Kristine Chisamore, Northern Illinois University alum. “You become kind of suspended in this other world.”
Persepolis: This visually stunning animated film tells the story of a young Iranian woman sent abroad to remain safe during the Islamic revolution in the 80s, and portrays how living and learning abroad can provide a necessary escape.
Watch For: The graphic autobiography of the same name written by Marjane Satrapi. The beautiful illustrations dive deeper into the psychology of going from youth to adulthood in a war-torn world.
We picked out some clips for you: