- The Proposition(Australia)
This southern-hemisphere western showcases the arid beauty of the Australian outback better than any other film I’ve seen. Tremendous gold-violet sunsets wash over the infinite expanses of the bush. You’ve never seen the likes of it before.
- The Motorcycle Diaries (Argentina/Peru)
A true travel film, Ernesto “Che” Guevara biopic The Motorcycle Diaries takes the viewer on a journey through the secluded paths and villages of South America. I’d recommend you try it in a car, though.
- The Ghost and the Darkness (South Africa)
Set in Kenya but shot in South Africa, this historically-inspired tale of a pair of lions who terrorized construction workers presents a generally unpleasant story framed by the starkly beautiful African savannah.
- Jurassic Park (Hawaii)
Another instance of one country playing another on film, the lush rainforest of Hawaii provides Steven Spielberg’s dinosaur epic with the backdrop of its “island off the coast of Costa Rica.” If you can tear your eyes away from the then-groundbreaking computer effects, the island’s lush natural beauty is impossible not to appreciate.
- C.R.A.Z.Y. (Canada)
Though confined to suburban rather than rural areas, French-language LGBT film C.R.A.Z.Y. effectively showcases the French-influenced culture of Quebec. If you took French in high school, buy a Lonely Planet guide and take a quick vacation up to Quebec– some call it France without the French.
- Lawrence of Arabia (various Middle East)
This rolling 1960s war epic set in and around what is currently Syria makes the uncompromising desert landscape as much a character as any of the human beings onscreen. While traveling to Syria or Iran might not currently be advisable, Lawrence may inspire you to buy a ticket to Egypt or Israel.
- Lagaan (India)
Bollywood blockbuster Lagaan is placed in the middle of India’s semi-arid natural landscape. Cinematographical flourishes let India’s vistas tell the story along with the characters– burning golden sunsets are used to represent the forbidden love between the two protagonists, and dry, relentless days mirror the despair of the Indians in the face of British imperialism. It’s not recommended viewing for anyone with an aversion to musicals, however.
- The Ninth Gate (Spain)
Roman Polanski’s superb direction transforms what might have been the umpteenth cheesy and pointless film about Satanic cultists, but through the old-world mysteriousness and intrigue of settings in France and Spain, elevates it into a near-classic. The Spanish countryside is rarely depicted, the film focusing more on its civil architecture.
- Amelie (France)
International groundbreaker Amelie vibrates with the quirkiness and dynamism of Paris. The filmmakers spearheaded an unprecedented effort to clean Paris of its ubiquitous graffiti, and made sure to include many staple French landmarks in the film, such as the Eiffel Tower and Sacre Coeur.
- The Fellowship of the Ring (New Zealand)
The most obvious (and the most indispensible) choice, Peter Jackson’s Rings trilogy put New Zealand on the map for something other than its prodigious wool production. The first installment, The Fellowship of the Ring, showcased New Zealand’s beautiful forests, rivers, and mountains more than its two successors. Who can resist the urge to visit the land slightly below the Land Down Under when they see Frodo at the shores of Amon Hen or climbing the snowy peaks of Caradhras?
10 Movies that Will Make You Want to Travel Abroad