Australia, the new Nicole Kidman/Hugh Jackman epic, was released this weekend and will no doubt spark a huge interest in the country/continent. I haven’t seen it yet (we’re always a few weeks behind on this island), but I’m sure director Baz Luhrmann has peppered the film with plenty of panoramic camera work to do the landscape justice. Regardless of the plot or script, this is bound to be an impressive cinematic travelogue to the land down under, and its Northern Territory in particular.
The last time the Northern Territory got a plug from the movies was when Crocodile Dundee hit the silver screen some 20-odd years ago (egads, has it really been that long?). The film showcased stunning Kakadu National Park and spiked awareness and tourism there considerably. Another film shot in the area around that time was A Cry In the Dark starring Meryl Streep, but for some reason baby-eating dingos weren’t as much of a boon to tourism in the area.
I have a soft spot for the NT, having lived there for a year back in my twenties. I think any place you settle in for longer than a two-week vacation seeps into your soul and psyche beyond the tourist level, becoming part of your inner landscape.
Seeing images of the Territory’s stark rugged beauty on the movie trailer brings back memories and longings – I can almost smell the red dust and feel the searing heat through my eyes. The harsh Australian outback from the arid center to the tropical “Top End” is not an easy journey to make (as Nicole Kidman’s character apparently discovers), but overcoming challenges is what makes some trips special. Revisiting the track from Alice Springs to Darwin with my kids is a definite family travel goal of mine. In the meantime, the movie will have to sustain me.
Movies are a powerful medium, transporting us to places without the hassles of packing and passport control, even inspiring us to venture to places we might not have considered before. Films set in distant lands – even less than stellar films – have definitely fueled my wanderlust. Think Out of Africa with its Keynan vistas, The English Patient with its Saharan splendor, Before Sunrise with its Viennese stroll or The Beach with its Thai island paradise. The setting is the star in films like these. Heck, even animated films like Finding Nemo, Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar seem to spark the traveler’s itch in my children.
What internationally-set movies have swept you away?
What about The Sheltering Sky? A part of the world that most people will never see – desert communities in the Sahara. Beautiful landscapes, but a really grim story about what can happen to unprepared tourists!