With streaming services inviting us to binge on the latest dramas, comedies, and superhero outings, there’s something missing on our screens: a good classic adventure flick that has us pining for new experiences. That said, we’ve set up a fun list of films that have adventure at their very core; set in exotic locales, with complex heroes fighting against-the-odds, be they journalists, thieves, or whip-toting archaeologists. An adventure film drags us away from our four walls, even if only for a few short hours – may they inspire you to plan your post lockdown adventure program.
Without further ado, here are a few of the titles you ought to be streaming right away.
The Year of Living Dangerously (1982)
Nope, Peter Weir’s thriller isn’t about going out for a pint of milk in 2021, but the thrilling story of an Australian reporter (a never-more-dashing Mel Gibson) reporting from the front lines of the Indonesian civil war… until he falls in love with Sigourney Weaver. Somewhere between Romancing the Stone and The Quiet American, on the surface it’s an accessible, fun 80s’ drama set against a bleak – but oddly intoxicating – backdrop of destruction. It’s now famous for Linda Hunt’s portrayal of the tragic Billy Kwan; a philosopher of the east. Don’t miss this one.
Into the Wild (2007)
The cinematic equivalent of saying, ‘to hell with it!’ and disappearing off into the wilderness, away from society, technology, and your possessions. In fact, that’s what Christopher McCandless does (played here by Emile Hirsch), renouncing his lifestyle to live wild and free. Based on a true story, tragedy is always in the air as we follow McCandless on his American odyssey, and yet it bursts with spirit and hope.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Is Raiders of the Lost Ark the greatest adventure film ever made? If not, it’s certainly the most famous. Indiana Jones’ first outing involves the ark of the covenant, cartoon bad guys, damsels in distress, whip-vs-pistol action, and one incredibly cool hat (no wonder Indy has such great skin). Raiders is innocent, childlike escapism at a time when everything feels so... complicated. Both sequels may not live up to the first, but are great fun in their own right – particularly Temple of Doom with the eerie Pankot Palace. Ignore the ridiculous fourth movie, and you will never miss a step with Dr. Jones.
Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
Simple: No Fred Dobbs, no Indiana Jones. In fact, Spielberg based his iconic character on Humphry Bogart’s wisecracking prospector, out to find his fortune in the valleys of Mexico. A tale that reads like a Joseph Conrad novella, the (really, really) great script is full of macho one-liners, fighting talk, and grisly set-pieces that keep the audience guessing – as the men burn with greed and corruption into the final act. A thrilling Hollywood classic, and the granddaddy of all action movies that came after it.
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
“All men dream, but not equally” wrote TE Lawrence, after his almost unbelievable victory in persuading Arab forces to fight against the Ottoman Empire. You may only be dreaming of the pub right now (or a simple stroll somewhere in Devon) but these three hours will transport you to the simmering desert, immersed in the gun fights, tribal politics, and triumphs of one of history’s most tortured, successful dreamers. David Lean’s eye for the vastness of the desert-scape, with all its emptiness and isolation, is why some suggest it is the most beautiful adventure film ever made. You decide.
Sorely missed on release (the same year as Star Wars!) Sorcerer has become a bit of a cult favourite: arguably one of the most skin-clenchingly tense films ever made, with a far-out score from Tangerine Dream and a brooding performance from Roy Scheider. Four mysterious men must transport a supply of explosives through the jungle. But there’s a catch: one big jolt and the explosives will go off. Stephen King put Sorcerer down as his favourite movie of all time, and it isn’t hard to see why the maestro of horror loved this tense William Friedkin sleeper.
What did you think? These are only a few of our favourite escapist adventure flicks (in the modern age, an explorer might have a tube of our moisturiser to take with him), but let us know what your own picks are, or whether you’ve enjoyed any of those on this list.