Reinvent Yourself on a Movie Journey

Stuck in a rut? Filled with lush landscapes and searching souls, these DVDs will lift your spirits and inspire change

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Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

One of the most visually splendid movies ever made, David Lean’s exploration of T.E. Lawrence’s desert years focuses on clashing cultures—and an enigmatic hero. And when the view turns from those panoramic waves of sand, you can lose yourself in star Peter O’Toole’s impossibly blue eyes.

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Dr. Zhivago (1965)

Fierce snow can’t obscure Julie Christie’s beauty—no wonder Dr. Zhivago (Omar Sharif) is obsessed by her character, Lara, in this sweeping romance set against the Russian Revolution. And with David Lean again at the helm, the breathtaking scenery becomes part of the action.

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Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)

As if Tuscany tourism needed another boost! Diane Lane won a Golden Globe for her engaging turn as a divorced American who buys a villa on a whim. Friendship and romance follow, along with the countryside’s golden hues.

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Austenland (2013)

Keri Russell plays a single thirty-something so obsessed with Pride and Prejudice, she sells off everything to go to Austenland, an English theme park devoted to Jane Austen. Many costume changes and laughs ensue as she struggles to find her own, contemporary Mr. Darcy.

Into the Wild (2007)

Sean Penn wrote and directed this adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s bestseller, based on the doomed back-to-nature adventures of a young college grad. With expansive views of California and Alaska, the wilderness performs as promised.

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Les Miserables (2012)

It doesn’t get much grittier than Victor Hugo’s 19th-century France and director Tom Hooper thrusts viewers into poverty’s cruel heart in this film adaptation of the Broadway musical. But with an uplifting score and A list cast (Hugh Jackman, Oscar winner Anne Hathaway), it’s a journey we’ll willingly take.

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The Wizard of Oz (1939)

When you dream in color to escape your black and white life, magic happens. Dorothy’s dance down that yellow brick road remains one of film’s most remarkable journeys—a truth reinforced by the new, The Wizard of Oz 75th Anniversary Collector’s Edition, which includes Blu-ray, Blu-ray3D, DVD and UltraVioltet versions.


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Eat, Pray, Love (2010)

Those three things were on Elizabeth Gilbert’s melancholy mind when she set off on a year-long adventure that became a bestseller. Viewers without Gilbert’s financial resources can take her tour of Italy, India and Bali courtesy of the movie, starring Julia Roberts.

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Out of Africa (1985)

“I had a farm in Africa…” These opening words from Danish author Karen Blixen (who wrote under the name Isak Dinesen) launch us into a landscape so lush it literally takes your breath away. With Meryl Streep and Robert Redford at its romantic core, this gem of a movie garnered seven Academy Awards.

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The Last Emperor (1987)

Bernardo Bertolucci traces the reign and Communist-driven fall of Puyi, the last Emperor of China, in an Oscar-winning film noted for its visual extravagance. For the first time, moviemakers were allowed access to the Forbidden City, the royal enclave that swallowed up little Puyi but, once seen, expanded the universe of Western viewers.

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Lost Horizons (1937)

An odd item on director Frank Capra’s doggedly upbeat resume, this haunting drama was a budget-buster in its day, filmed in surprisingly sumptuous black and white. Do you really want to live in Shangri-La? Check it out.

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Amelie (2001)

Adorable Audrey Tatou stars as shy, kind-hearted Amelie, who finds her place among her outlandish Montmartre neighbors. There are few scenes more liberating than this heroine’s free-spirited bike ride through Paris.

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In Bruges (2008)

Fans of Irish playwright Martin McDonagh’s dark comedies get a bonus in this wacky crime drama, which he wrote and directed: the canal-based Belgian city of Bruges. It looks charming to us, but for McDonagh’s gangsters (Colin Farrell among them), it’s the butt of continual jokes. “And I realized,” says one, “maybe that’s what hell is: the entire rest of eternity spent in f----n Bruges.” 

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Days of Heaven (1978)

No matter how bizarre they get (anybody catch Tree of Life?), Terrence Malick’s movies are always a visual delight. This one, with Richard Gere and Brooke Adams smoldering and scheming through the wheat fields of the Texas Panhandle, actually makes sense.  A scene where locusts destroy the crops, the film’s many sunset shots—well, no wonder Heaven was handed an Oscar for Best Cinematography.

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The Life of Pi (2012)

You can find the full journey of life, courtesy of a tiger, in Ang Lee’s stunning celebration of friendship and survival. With scenes unfolding like gallery-perfect paintings, Pi packs an emotional punch; once seen, it’s a movie not easily forgotten.

Buy it here.

Next: Travel as Reinvention: 10 Books About Personal Growth on Vacation

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