25 February 2009
Visit Exotic Locales in Exciting Times -- See a Movie!
With the economy looking like something the cat dragged in many people can't afford a vacation. But that doesn't mean you can't can't take a trip via the magic of movies. Not only can you see an unfamiliar locale you can also time travel. The family and I enjoyed seeing Paris two months ago but how much more exciting would have been if we'd traveled back in time and seen it during the Reign of Terror or amid the German Occupation or while the while under siege by the Prussian army? Okay bad examples. The point is that through film you can often get a sense of a faraway place in times past. Sometimes that look is not completely accurate but it can still give the viewer a feeling for the time period and tickle the imagination.
As your cinematic travel agent I've got a few suggestions for places and time periods you might like to see. The beauty of these travel packages is that they'll set you back no more than the cost of a movie rental and in each case you'll be enjoying a fine film in the process.
See Berlin in 1931 via Cabaret (1972). (See photo above.) What a bargain vacation this is! You get high end entertainment from the likes of Liza Minelli and Joel Grey. Lots of sex, the crescendo of Berlin's wild and wholly nightclub scene of the Wiemar era and the ominous rise of the Nazis. Okay, so no trip is perfect. But as ominous as those Nazis lurking in the background are, they're not quite in power yet so just enjoy some of the grandest musical numbers ever to grace the screen.
See Vienna in the late 1940s via The Third Man (1949). Want to buy some penicillin? Meet Harry Lime. Shady character. Other black market goods are available too. There's also an American author of Westerns, one Holly Martins. A lovely, if moody, actress named Anna Schmidt is likewise around. You'll also see war ravaged Vienna in all its magnificent rubble. Take in a nightclub, the theater and a presentation by Martens. Tours of the Viennese sewer system also provided.
See West Texas circa 1987 via No Country For Old Men (2007). BYOW (bring your own water). Stark, dry country with vistas that stretch forever. Some of the towns and cities are not terribly exotic, but oh the people you'll meet. Why there comes Anton now, he of the cheap haircut. Maybe you can toss coins with him. You'll see some simple but quite functional hotel rooms, get an introduction to the proper use of firearms and visit the Mexican border. Horseback riding and pick up truck trips included. Just be careful not to pick up any satchels filled with enormous sums of money. That just tends to set Anton off.
See New York in the 1860's via Gangs of New York (2002). Mind your pocketbooks folks. In fact, maybe you just better bring a bodyguard or a pistol. Dangerous though this city may be it's full of colorful rogues and their affiliates. Best to not involve yourself and enjoy the show. There's Monk McGinn, here comes Boss Tweed and look see Bill The Butcher (Irish beware) and say hello to Hell-Cat Maggie -- from a safe distance. Yes you're about to experience New York's notorious five points district. You'll see the streets, the homes (such as they are) and the business establishments. A tour of the finer districts is also provided. For your further entertainment pugilism sans rules will be offered.
See San Francisco in 1958 via Vertigo (1958). The city by the bay was never lovelier nor more full of color. The hills, the neighborhoods, the Bay, the Golden Gate and its bridge. Missions are part of the tour as is a fine eatery, Ernie's, no longer extant. You'll also get to hop along some rooftops, but if you're afraid of heights I'd skip it. An interesting segment of San Francisco history will be introduced by a bookstore owner. A few drives out of the city will provide pleasant diversion. Your guides will be an ex cop and a knockout blonde. They're a cute couple, just stay out of bell towers with them.
See Paris in the early 1930's via Boudu Saved From Drowning (1932). Paris was no less beautiful 70 years ago and a look at it in black and white doesn't diminish its grandeur a whit. With this tour you'll see the city both through a tramp and an an upper middle class family and even see what unfolds when their worlds meet. Take a dip in the Seine. See the shops, the slums, the fringes of the city. Meet one kooky mendicant.
See Bruges today via In Bruges (2008). My friend Colin doesn't much care for the place but you might find this Belgium city, the Venice of the North, a beautiful locale indeed. You'll marvel at the medieval architecture, the canals, the belfry with carillon. Many sights to see including the exciting escapades of two Irishmen on a most peculiar holiday. Maybe you'll be lucky and they'll be filming a movie while you're there.
See Warsaw during WWII via The Pianist (2002). Not a sight for the faint of heart but a fascinating trip for the history buff. See the terrible human toll of the Holocaust on one European city and the physical devastation caused by war. Rubble everywhere. You'll swear you're really there and you'll be glad you're not when you witness the treatment of the Jews at the hands of Nazi occupiers. There is a gifted pianist at the center of the story (hence the title) and you'll enjoy meeting him and his struggle to survive against all odds. An inspiring journey to be sure.
See Rome in 1960 via La Dolce Vita (1960). You'll be in no hurry to leave. Glamour, romance, excitement, beauty, did I say glamour? You'll also witness the birth of the paparazzi, at least by name (again no trip is perfect). But what delightful folks you'll meet. Marcello, Sylvia, Maddalena to name but a few of the beautiful people. With Federico Fellini as your guide you can't go wrong. You'll enjoy much of Rome and some of its outskirts. Seven days and nights of living life to the hilt in the eternal city!
See Rio in the 1960s through the 1980s via City of God (2002). Watch out for the little rascals! You'll be slumming some on this trip but what a fascinating sociological study it will make! In its own way picturesque, this trip may give you insight into the human condition. Perhaps you'll be inspired to act for those less fortunate. A great trip for the social activist.
Oh the places you can go! More cinematic travel suggestions to come in the future.