Top 5 road movies

June 27 2011
by emma

I don’t think there’s any movie quite as inspirational or entertaining as a classic road movie.  There’s a little bit of tough guy, underdog hero, on-the-run, camaraderie in the face of adversity in all of us.

Here are my personal favourites which unintentionally happen to be from 5 different decades:

1. Thelma and Louise

I saw this 1991 movie about female solidarity when I was a teenager.  I remember how much I loved it the first time I saw it and even now, it’s one of my favourite movies.  I’ve seen it countless times and never tire of the ending.

Thelma: “Let’s not get caught …… let’s keep going.”

2. The Blues Brothers

This iconic, funny movie made in 1980, which inspired a lifetime obsession with Ray Bans and rhythm and blues for a lot of us, still cracks me up.

Elwood: “It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses.”

Jake: “Hit it.”

3. Easy Rider

A counter-culture, quintessential bikie road movie from 1969 which likely inspired many road movies made since then.  This movie was a sign of the times like no other, it depicted a journey and a definitive ending.  I’ve seen it a few times and like most people of my generation, I’m fascinated by that time in history which symbolised so much change.

Billy: “I never really thought of myself as a freak, ya know…but I love to freak!”

4. The Motorcycle Diaries

Ernesto Che Guevara’s ironically westernised iconic status has been talked about and written about for so long it’s difficult to remember he was once young and idealistic.  Che was a medical student when he decided to travel through South America by motorbike with his best friend a month before graduation.  This 2004 movie was a touching and entertaining portrayal of Che’s adventures and his confronting observations of South America’s poverty and disease which led to his becoming the revolutionary he is known for.

Ernesto: “What we had in common – our restlessness, our impassioned spirits, and a love for the open road.”

5. Badlands

This 1973 movie (I believe) inspired the 1994 movie Natural Born Killers however in my humble opinion, was infinitely superior.

It’s an unsettling rather than shocking movie – I say this because it implies violence more by showing reactions and body language rather than the in-your-face aggression of Natural Born Killers, made some 20 years later.  Sissy Spacek’s teenage character narrates the movie; her curiously flat, expressionless voice and sweet, innocent face at odds with the horrendous acts she and the young drifter, played by Martin Sheen, carry out.


Holly: “He was handsomer than anybody I’d ever met. He looked just like James Dean”

Movie images and stills from:
Thelma and Louise, 1991, MGM, USA
The Blues Brothers, 1980, Universal Pictures, USA
Easy Rider, 1969, Columbia Pictures Corporation, USA
The Motorcycle Diaries, 2004, FilmFour, Argentina
Badlands, 1973, Badlands Company, USA

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