5 TRAVEL DOCUMENTARIES TO WATCH AT HOME
Though the current coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on those with a passion for travel and many of us have had to abandon our holiday plans, there’s still heaps you can do to indulge your wanderlust and fuel your zeal for the exotic from home.
We recommend the following five top travel documentaries to inspire your next big trip for when things are back to normal.
TELETEXT’S LIST OF THE 5 BEST TRAVEL DOCUMENTARIES
1) AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS (1989)
Around the World in 80 Days is generally considered to be one of the best travel documentaries ever. This seven-part BBC series cemented Michael Palin’s reputation as Britain’s foremost travel documentarian and began the Monty Python star’s long and celebrated career as a presenter of fascinating and humorous travel docs.
Based on Jules Verne’s famous adventure novel of the same name, Palin takes on the challenge to circle the globe in 80 days, closely following the road and sea route taken by the book’s main character. The series takes the loveable Palin through 17 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and North America using every form of transport imaginable — except for planes!
With so many amazing cultures explored and travelling mishaps and hardships overcome, joining Palin on his impressive journey is the closest you can get to a round-the-world voyage from the comfort of your own home. Watch as he does everything from cross the English Channel and traverse the driest regions of the Middle East to enter Bombay on a dhow boat.
With almost eight hours of travelling content to get stuck into, this is a great choice if you’ve found yourself unexpectedly stuck at home at the moment.
2) SAHARA WITH MICHAEL PALIN (2002)
Following the huge success of Around the World in 80 Days, Palin has gone on to make many critically-acclaimed travel documentary series exploring almost every region of the globe, from Brazil to North Korea. For our money, however, the cream of the crop of these subsequent docs is his amazing four-part Sahara series.
This series is a vivid and varied account of the enchanting cultures and regions that skirt the awesome vistas of the Sahara Desert. Palin uncovers the spectacular night skies of Nigeria, the heart-wrenching refugee camps of Algeria, the beautiful desert landscapes of Timbuktu and the rich cultural mix that is Morocco.
This series not only offers some beautiful shots of the desert’s vast and mighty landscapes, but also gives a great anthropological sense of the region as Palin meets tribe members, religious leaders and refugees. This highlights the many cultural and religious practices of the people of the desert.
If you’ve been thinking of planning a trip to North Africa when it’s safe to travel again, prepare with this brilliant doc.
3) BARAKA (1992)
If you’re looking to be inspired by the sheer power, beauty and awesomeness of the earth and life itself during this lockdown, look no further than the stunning, beautifully-shot 1992 documentary Baraka. Though this documentary has no narrative or voice-over, opting instead for an immensely powerful collage of rich imagery from all corners of the globe, it’s difficult not to be blown away by this heart-rending travel masterpiece.
The film consists of a variety of awesome sights: sometimes joyous, sometimes sad, but always incredibly beautiful. It’s jam-packed with cultural and natural gems that are bound to give you the travel bug. From incredible scenes of synchronous singing and dancing and aboriginal ceremonies to the opening of the Beijing Olympics, the film is hugely ambitious. It aims to capture the entirety of the human existence and nature at its most poignant - and it is generally agreed that this exceptional film succeeds in meeting that tall ambition.
Top Tip: For the best viewing experience, be sure to watch the 2008 version. Baraka is the only film ever to have been transformed to 8K resolution from 65mm film, meaning it is possibly the most detailed and rich cinematic viewing experience ever.
4) JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI (2011)
If you’re a lover of all things Japanese, we recommend this cute and unique doc about Japanese dedication and food. The film documents the story of 85-year-old Jiro Ono who, for 75 uninterrupted years, has spent all of his time doing just one thing: making sushi.
Considered by his contemporaries to be the greatest sushi chef of all time, Jiro runs his tiny, sparsely decorated 10-seater restaurant with military precision. Under his regime, apprentices must spend 10 years learning to use their knives before they are allowed to cook anything, with becoming a shokunin or master craftsman taking more than 50 years. Situated in a shabby Tokyo subway station, the restaurant is the first of its kind to have been awarded a prestigious three-star Michelin review, and sushi lovers from across the world book months in advance and pay through the nose just to taste his culinary masterpieces.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a great doc for foodies that might offer some inspiration in the kitchen, as well as a touching portrait of the pursuit of absolute perfection. It truly is a one-of-a-kind documentary that’s as fascinating as it is impressive.
5) THE MAIDEN TRIP (2013)
If extreme travel and tests of endurance are more your thing, we recommend The Maiden Trip, which documents the journey of the youngest person ever to sail solo around the world.
Laura Dekker’s phenomenal year-and-a-half journey completely alone is a gripping watch and takes her through some amazing spots including Panama, the Galapagos Islands, Australia and St Martins. In addition, Dekker is a great companion, capturing shots of some beautiful places, along with a range of challenging experiences that make this an incredibly inspiring film with a personal touch.
We wouldn’t be surprised if this one nudged some would-be endurance explorers into planning their next big travelling feat for when things return to normal.
Even if the recent pandemic has left many of us keen travel-lovers at home with unusually itchy feet, these five excellent docs are sure to scratch the travelling itch for the moment. Why not take this restful time to use these films as inspiration and take this opportunity to plan every detail of your next big adventure? What’s more, our blog is bursting with ideas for every kind of traveller, from the foodie to the culture vulture.