Take some inspiration from these films this summer and get off your couch.
“Come on, Sam,” Frodo tells him. “Remember what Bilbo used to say; ‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.’”
The same could be said for turning on your television and watching a movie.
Granted, most of the time, the movies we watch are designed to keep us firmly parked on the couch, not break free of it. But sometimes you run across a film (or series of films) that encourage you to turn off the tube and dive into an adventure. Such films show us exotic lands that we want to see for ourselves or give us hints of daring exploits that make us consider doing the same. They fire our imaginations to try new things, eat new foods, and push ourselves in ways that maybe we haven’t before.
But be warned, my friends. If you’d rather just stay at home and eat Doritos, these movies are dangerous in their own, adventurous ways—pulling you and yours out of well-worn ruts and onto roads that might sweep you somewhere new and daring. And given the quote above, perhaps the best place to start is with …
The Lord of the Rings movies (Fellowship of the Ring; The Two Towers; The Return of the King, PG-13): Obviously none of us can go tromp through the Old Forest or spelunk through the Mines of Moria, given that Middle Earth is author J.R.R. Tolkien’s fictional world. Still, the movies suggest that adventure may wait for us all (magic ring or no), no matter how unlikely we might be as adventurers. And let’s not forget that the films have pushed plenty of folks to have adventures of their own—in New Zealand, where the movies were filmed. As many as 16 percent of New Zealand’s tourists cite the movies as a big reason why they came. (You can watch all three movies with a subscription to Hulu.)
Indiana Jones movies (Raiders of the Lost Ark; Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom; Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade; and [erg] Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull; PG, PG-13): George Lucas’ and Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones flicks are only slightly more grounded in reality than the Lord of the Rings movies are. (Or so I assume, from the lack of stories about magic artifacts and doom-riddled temples in National Geographic.) But Dr. Jones does operate, at least, in a facsimile of the real world, and his travels (always illustrated helpfully via red lines racing across sepia-tone maps) inspire a desire to see, say, far-off Nepal (even if we might not engage in a drinking contest) or walk the streets of Venice (even if we can’t get into the catacombs below). Indiana travels the world with both a swaggering confidence and a knowledgeable reverence that serves him well—and might serve like-minded adventurers, too. (You can watch the movies on several streaming services, including Amazon Prime and YouTube, beginning at $2.99.)
The Bucket List (2007, PG-13): It’s never too late to go on an adventure. Or, if you’ve got the bank account for it, several. That’s the point of this disappointingly crass but, at times, surprisingly touching comedy starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. The men meet in a hospital and both know their times are running respectively out. They dive into an around-the-world adventure (financed by Nicholson’s wealthy character, Edward Cole) that takes them to France, China, Tanzania, and plenty of points between. But as spectacular as the travel itinerary was, it wasn’t the best part of their mutual bucket lists: It was how their adventures drew them closer together … and inspired them to be better people, too. And when Freeman’s character, Carter, dies, Edward gives his eulogy. “I hope that it doesn’t sound selfish of me, but the last months of his life were the best months of mine,” Edward says. “He saved my life, and he knew it before I did.” (The Bucket List is available on Netflix right now.)
Finding Nemo (G, 2003): Marlin the clownfish really has no use for daring-do. Since his scaly wife died, leaving him to raise their young son, Nemo, alone, his whole philosophy has been to keep himself and Nemo as safe as possible. But when Nemo gets snatched by, um, fish-nappers, Marlin embarks on a life-threatening, underwater trek to find him. This Pixar classic takes Marlin, pal Dory, and us viewers on an incredible and often beautiful adventure through fields of jellyfish, forests of coral and the dark, dangerous deep. While the movie sparked an unfortunate rise in the demand for clownfish, it also showcased a wonderful and often unseen world in rich detail—and gave us, of course, a reluctant hero who not only saved his son, but learned along the way that pushing yourself a little is not just necessary, but a little fun. (You can rent and stream the movie for $2.99, but if you have kids, you probably already have this movie, too.)
Lawrence of Arabia (PG, 1962): If Finding Nemo showcased the beauty of an underwater world, Lawrence of Arabia romanticized a world with hardly any water at all. This classic film won seven Oscars, including one for Freddie Young for Best Cinematography, and no wonder. Despite the movie’s Prince Feisal’s insistence that “There is nothing in the desert and no man needs nothing,” T.E. Lawrence (in what is still considered a defining role for the legendary Peter O’Toole) and his enraptured audience found much to love in the film’s expansive, beautifully shot deserts. The movie also gave us a man who loved a little adventure, and through his example showed his audience that life is a story meant to be written in large, bold letters. “Truly, for some men, nothing is written unless they write it,” says Sherif Ali. But that’s true of us all, is it not? (Lawrence of Arabia is available to stream with a subscription to Hulu.)
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (PG, 2013): Walter Mitty loves adventure … in his overly active mind, that is. This quiet photo editor becomes the hero of his own fantastic (and, in real life, distracting) stories. But when a precious negative goes missing, Mitty takes off on a global quest to track down the photographer. Like Marlin from Finding Nemo, Mitty is a reluctant adventurer. Unlike Marlin, the places he goes are accessible to us without scuba equipment. He traipses through Greenland and Afghanistan and the stunning island nation of Iceland, all while discovering sources of strength and daring he never knew he had. I was ready to hop on a plane and explore strange, wonderous corners of the globe once I saw this film. Perhaps you will want to, too. (You can rent and stream this title beginning at $2.99 from a variety of sources. Or just borrow my copy.)
This is just a beginner’s list, really. I can think of dozens of others—maybe hundreds—that show worlds most of us have never seen, with adventurers and heroes and, sometimes, regular ol’ Janes and Joes as our cinematic tour guides. But at least this will start your motion picture passport. All aboard!
If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.
Here are some numbers:
- 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
- Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
- Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
- Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
- Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
- We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)
As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.
Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!