It’s the middle of January — a time when many of us in the Northern Hemisphere find ourselves spending more time indoors. Days are shorter and colder — and the ground is often covered in ice and snow. Plus, we’re in a global pandemic, being asked to stay at home as much as possible for the greater good. So for those of us with itchy feet — who wish we were off on some great walking adventure — it’s a great time to get a vicarious walking thrill by watching some movies about walking. Here are some epic adventures, many of which are true stories, that have been brought to the screen. We hope you enjoy these “virtual walks”.
Hollywood & Indie:
The Way (2011)
This is the movie that introduced the famed Camino Santiago de Campostela to the general public. Starring Martin Sheen and his son, Emilio Estevez (who also directed and produced), this is a story of an American father who travels to Europe to bring back the body of his estranged son, who has died attempting the pilgrimage. The father decides to take the journey himself, in an effort to better understand his son. Of course, he learns as much about himself.
Cheryl Strayed’s bestselling memoir was made into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon in 2014. At the depth of a downward spiral after the death of her mother, Strayed decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Like The Way, in this movie the outward experience creates inner transformation. Nominated for multiple Academy Awards.
The Way Back (2010)
Directed by great Peter Weir, The Way Back chronicles the 4,000-mile journey of a group of escapees from a Siberian labor camp in 1939. Escaping under cover of a blizzard, the ragtag group must make it through the Himalayas to find freedom. An epic survival film with a superb cast
A Walk in the Woods (2015)
Bill Bryson’s popular book was turned into a Hollywood film starring Robert Redford, Nick Norte, and Emma Thompson. Chronicling Bryson’s journey on the Appalachian Trail, the film met mixed reviews from book lovers, but the scenery alone is worth it.
Based on the true story of Robyn Davidson’s trek across the Australian desert with four camels and her dog, Tracks received international acclaim — and gets high ratings across the board from critics and viewers. Gorgeous cinematography.
Another Appalachian Trail epic, this indie film asks the question: Can a woman find love and fulfillment while spending half a year in hiking boots?
Tell It On the Mountain (2013)
A documentary filled with stories about people who choose to leave their conventional lives behind and attempt to hike the Pacific Crest trail. This film gets thumbs up from critics and viewers alike.
Mile. . .Mile and a Half (2013)
Five friends set out to hike California’s 211-mile John Muir trail in twenty-five days. Of course they are joined by others along the way — and encounter weather and other adventures and obstacles.
The Long Journey to the Start (2015)
A documentary about Chris Gallaway’s attempt to through-hike the Appalachian Trail, critics regard this as one of the best films about this iconic American hike.
Only the Essential (2014)
Two documentary filmmakers hike the Pacific Crest trail together, and film their experience — from Mexico to Canada, over 2600 miles!
Life in a Walk (2016)
Yogi Roth never wanted to say, “I wish I had spent more time with my father. The result: this documentary about Yogi Roth, who invites his father to walk the Camino de Santiago with him.
Epic Movies with Great Walks:
Stand By Me (1986)
This coming-of-age film adapted from a Stephen King novel, Stand By Me follows four boys on an adventure to go see a dead body. On their way, they encounter all manner of peril, learning about the world and one another in this Rob Reiner classic starring River Phoenix, Wil Wheaton and Corey Feldman.
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
One of the most famous and beloved movies of all time, this 1939 classic follows Dorothy and her dog Toto — along with the three friends she meets along the way (the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow — for anyone under four or raised under a rock in Outer Mongolia) as they walk across the magical land of Oz to find the wizard who can send Dorothy back home to Kansas. How do they know where to go? Well, they just follow the Yellow Brick Road, of course!
Seven Years in Tibet (1997)
The true story of an Austrian mountain climber who befriends the Dalai Lama during World War II and the Chinese takeover of Tibet, this Brad Pitt epic had aspirations as high as the Himalayas — but didn’t always achieve them, according to the film’s critics.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2000s)
JRR Tolkien’s epic trilogy (and its prequel, The Hobbit) follow a fantastical group of mismatched hobbits, elves, dwarves, and wizards as they walk across the Middle Kingdom in an attempt to save the world from destruction.
So when you’re not out walking, stream some of these films and Watch Your Step!
Please share some of your favorite walking films in the comments.