At times I feel stuck and bored watching the same types of shows or movies, so this week I have some recommendations for movies that broke me out of that complacent state. Though not all of these movies are activism oriented, they look at the outdoors in unique and multifaceted ways and blur the lines between documentary and fiction. These are truly some of my favorite movies ever. I cried through most of these films, as trite as it sounds. I’m not going to summarize what other journalists or critics have said about these movies, I’m going to write what I saw and then link to sources.
Find Me (2018)
Find Me features one of the most unlikely hikers thus far seen in a film: Joe, a middle-aged, Chinese-American accountant. Joe refuses to leave his comfort bubble indoors for much of the film, but then his co-worker and secret love Amelia goes missing. She sends him a letter that says, “Find me,” and he decides to go on a road trip to find her. Amelia’s subsequent clues lead him through National Parks and to new friends before he ultimately finds her. Find Me has the plot points and locations of any other outdoor movie, but it feels completely different from the way in which it is filmed to the awkward interactions between characters. Find Me is available on Amazon Prime Video.
A love story on the Appalachian Trail. Sounds cliche right? Actually Maine was so purposefully filmed and sincerely acted that it almost seemed like a documentary at times. The most intimate moments happen when dirty, wet, and tired backpacking in the outdoors. This film confronts the complicated issues of a marriage without love and is ultimately a story about a woman who decides to hike solo. This is the only movie on my list for which the reviews are not all glowing, however, I am going to disagree with them. Critics claim that the movie feels aimless at times, but I think it was this aimlessness was purposeful. It captured the feelings that arise on a very difficult and taxing thru-hike. Though I do agree that the end is a bit deflating and undirected, I still believe this movie is worthwhile. Maine is available on Amazon Prime Video.
This movie strays from my 3 other trail related recommendations, but it is worth watching nonetheless. Honeyland follows a woman, Hatidze Muratova, who has been a beekeeper her entire life in the mountains of Macedonia. She climbs up into the mountains to collect bees off sheer cliffs without a bee suit and lives in a tiny stone house with only a fire to heat it. When a family moves in next door and attempts to raise bees in a non-natural way, her bees start to die. Hatidze treats the bees as equals and only takes half of the honey they offer, in keeping with the principles of the honorable harvest (read last week's post ). It is a story of tradition, poverty, and ultimately a foreshadowing for what will happen to the bees in the rest of the world if things don’t change. Honeyland is available on Youtube for $6.
In the past year or so I have witnessed and faced a lot of loss. I have seen close friends and family suffer and tried my best to help them heal. This documentary follows a family, siblings Gwinnie, Orlando, and Robin, as they hike across the U.K.. The purpose of their hike is to work through their emotions after their brother’s suicide and visit the spots that he loved to visit. Evelyn can’t give a solution to grief, but it may help to make you feel less alone in your grief. It was raw and utterly honest and captured the power that wide open spaces can have on mental health. Evelyn is available on Netflix.
At the end of the movie Orlando reads a poem; here’s an excerpt:
So when you walk the woods where once we walked together
And scan in vain the dappled bank beside you for my shadow,
Or pause where we always did upon the hill to gaze across the land,
And spotting something, reach by habit for my hand,
And finding none, feel sorrow start to steal upon you,
Be still. Clear your eyes. Breathe.
I am not gone but merely walk within you.
As you go about your week, take time to pause and go outside, there’s a lot of wisdom and healing there. Thank you for reading!