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SPECIAL TRAVEL ISSUE | SIDE TRIPS

The Armchair Moviegoer

April 25, 1999

We polled leading travel writers to discover their favorite cinematic excursions. Mercifully, no one chose "The Accidental Tourist."--Leilah Bernstein

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Pico Iyer, author of "Tropical Classical," "Video Night in Kathmandu": "Whenever anyone asks me why I travel, I point him or her to [Bernardo] Bertolucci's 'The Sheltering Sky.' The sheer press of strangeness, the stripping down of identity, the sense of being lost in a souk in the falling light and descending into some consuming darkness from which no familiar self will emerge make me long to jump on the next plane to Morocco."

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Simon Winchester, Asia-Pacific editor of Conde Nast Traveler magazine, author of "The Professor and the Madman": " 'The World of Suzie Wong' comes as close as possible to painting a picture of colonial Hong Kong that is eerily accurate: the scenes in the Wanchai hotel bar, the pidgin English spoken by the bartenders and rickshaw boys, the dreadful dinner party when the old colonials show their true feelings for John Chinaman down in the slums. Yet to anyone who has lived and worked in Hong Kong, it all rings enchantingly true."

Maureen Wheeler, co-publisher, Lonely Planet guidebooks: "Pier Paolo Pasolini's 'Arabian Nights' involved lots of wonderful scenes of deserts and ancient villages. One I remember showed a fisherman sitting on the banks of the Bagmati River looking across to [Kathmandu], and it appeared that he was actually sitting by the sea--quite surreal. It really captured the essence of the journey."

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Arthur Frommer, guidebook series founder, editor of Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel magazine: " 'Out of Africa,' because its panoramic shots of The Great Rift Valley in Tanzania evoke memories of that most memorable of all travel experiences: the African safari. Those idyllic scenes of [Robert Redford and Meryl Streep] dining in front of their tent on a moonlit night, are from a kind of luxury safari too expensive for the likes of us."*

Michael Palin, author of "Around the World in 80 Days," "Pole to Pole," "Full Circle": "Jiri Menzel's 'Closely Watched Trains' is a poignant, sexy and funny film set in a remote railway station in Czechoslovakia during the Nazi occupation. My most tenacious travel memories are not always of glorious scenery and breathtaking sunsets, but of being trapped in unremarkable places and having to find something to do to avoid going mad. This is the essence of 'Closely Watched Trains.' "

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Tim Cahill, editor at large, Outside magazine, co-writer of the IMAX film "Everest": "I find 'A River Runs Through It' both graceful and radiant. Certain scenes were filmed around the small Montana town where I live, [showing] big grandeur everywhere."

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