With the UK now effectively in lockdown and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office advising against any overseas travel, sadly we won’t be hopping on a plane anytime soon. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have your imagination whisked away to somewhere altogether more exotic. Even when you’re stuck indoors for the majority of the day, a wealth of books, films and TV programmes can help you forget about the Coronavirus epidemic, even just for a second, and catapult you to the beaches of the Mauritius or the incredible landscapes of Thailand. We call this armchair travel. To help cast your mind to somewhere far-flung during this unsettling period, here are some of our favourite films which will inspire your future travels…
This Disney animation tells the story of adventurous Polynesian teenager Moana (which is Tahitian for ocean), who goes on a quest to rescue a pounamu stone – the heart of sleeping island goddess Te Fiti – to reunite it with her home island and save her people. The fictional island of Motunui is said to have been inspired by Mount Otemanu in Bora Bora and Tetiaroa (home to The Brando). Even though it’s animated, we think Moana’s brilliantly vibrant colours are a true reflection of what you’ll experience on Tahiti’s islands in real life!
Set in the townships of Johannesburg, this gritty film follows Tsotsi (which means ‘thug’ in township slang), a troubled gang leader. After hijacking a car, Tsotsi finds he has stolen more than he bargained for, discovering there’s a baby in the car as well. Even though he initially thinks he cannot look after the child, his personality begins to soften and his relationship with the baby blossoms. A heartfelt story of redemption and an enlightening demonstration of the duality between black and white races in modern South Africa, Tsotsi is proof that hope can be found in the hardest of places.
This 2000 film, which starred Leonardo di Caprio and based itself on the novel of the same name by Alex Garland, has become infamous in making Thailand’s beaches and islands hugely popular. Maya Bay, which is the star of the film, became a victim of its own success, being closed in 2018 to help the beach and coral reef to recover. Despite this, it’s essential viewing for anyone visiting Thailand and there are plenty of places you can visit in the country that are just as dreamy as Maya Bay, but without the crowds.
A gripping neo-noir thriller where a fishing boat captain is asked by his ex-wife to help her ‘dispatch’ of her abusive new husband. Starring a stellar cast, including Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, Mauritius gorgeously stands in for the fictional Plymouth Island, which is full of mysterious secrets. Most of the film was shot in the pretty harbour village of Trou aux Biches, its turquoise waters and palm-flecked streets in full view, while the red-roofed Notre Dame Auxiliatrice makes an appearance, too.
The Island President
An incredible 2011 documentary which details then-president Mohamed Nasheed’s critical fight against climate change, where rising sea levels threaten the Maldives, the world’s lowest-lying country, more than any other. It’s heartening, inspiring and fascinating, all at the same time.
Out of Africa
Loosely based on the memoir of the same name by Karen Blixen, Out of Africa follows Blixen’s (played by Meryl Streep) time in Kenya running a coffee plantation, while her unhappy marriage leads to her romance with big game hunter Denys Finch Hatton (played by Robert Redford). However, the real stars of the film are the landscapes, which captured the hearts and minds of cinema audiences upon its release in 1985, propelling Kenya as a world-class safari destination. The emerald Ngong Hills, epic savannah of the Masai Mara and the rugged beauty of Shaba National Reserve are all beautifully shot, with ‘Best Picture’ being one of seven Oscars the film won.