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Long Walk To Wherever: Cinema's Most Epic Journeys

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Mia Wasikowska heads into the Australian desert for a true-life walking story in this week’s Tracks, so we thought we’d kick off a quest to look at some of the other long journeys that have inspired cinema, whether it was critters trying to get home or hobbits trying to visit a volcano. You may need blister ointment after reading, and do remember to hydrate.

The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King

The Film
How can the smallest hero save the entirety of Middle-earth from its darkest threat? By walking for blooming ages across hostile terrain, up mountains, through Orc- and goblin-filled mines, all the while being reminded how important it all is by a wizard who, if we’re honest, should really have just done it himself. There’s also an argument to be made that the Hobbits and everyone else could have saved themselves several days by just flying Convenient Eagle Airways.

TrekAdvisor review
“Even though I nearly died on this trip, I would recommend the journey to anyone. Rivendell was a really beautiful location to visit and while Lothlorien was a bit scary, we were given free gifts! A word of advice for anyone travelling with a friend: make sure they don’t get tasked with ferrying dangerous magical jewellery, or you may end up feeling like you’re carrying them.” – User SamGamg25.

Forrest Gump

The Film
Life might be like a box of chocolates, but a box of Cliff Bars would come in handier for Forrest - a man who, despite issues with leg braces in early life, shows real athletic aptitude which make up for his intellectual shortcomings. Late in the film, he turns his heartbreak - true love Jenny abandoned him - into a quick run. This eventually becomes a three-year marathon that sees him travelling coast-to-coast across America. His long run wins him a huge following and even inspires failing businesspeople to find success. We get a bit out of breath just considering it.

TrekAdvisor review
“I did not think that I would actually end up running for three years, but I had fun. My feet don’t hurt that much and people were very nice to me. If I did it again, I would also visit Canada, because the folks there seem friendly. I LOVE YOU JENNY WHY DID YOU JUST LEAVE ME?” – User F0rrestG

The Road

The Film
Post-apocalyptic nightmares aren’t much fun at the best of times, but in the hands of novelist Cormac McCarthy, scriptwriter Joe Penhall and director John Hillcoat, The Road becomes a gruelling slog in every sense. An unspecified disaster has befallen the world and an unnamed Man (Viggo Mortensen) and his son, Boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) head south on a road to the coast in the hopes they’ll find warmer weather and better conditions. Along the way, they encounter cannibals, thieves and ambushes. Nobody has a good time.

TrekAdvisor review
“If you have to endure any shattered, morally bankrupt world, make it this one. There’s a kind of fun to be had knowing that all the rules are out of the window, and you meet some really interesting people along the way. Then you kill them and eat their flesh. I have great recipes for leg stew if anyone’s interested.” – User C@nnibalHolocaustic

The Way Back

The Film
Inspired by real events, The Way Back follows Siberian gulag inmates Janusz (Jim Sturgess), Mr. Smith (Ed Harris), Khabarov (Mark Strong), Valka (Colin Farrell), Tomasz (Alexandru Potocean), Voss (Gustaf Skarsgard), Kazik (Sebastian Urzendowsky) and Zoran (Dragos Bucur) as they escape captivity and attempt a 4,000 mile trek across some of the world's least hospitable landscapes to freedom in India. They don’t all make it, but Janusz, upon crossing the border, decides to keep walking around the world. We’d have settled for a quick cool-down on a treadmill then a five year nap.

TrekAdvisor Review
“Do NOT stay in the Siberian gulag I booked by refusing to sign a confession. The accommodations were beyond basic, the weather awful and the staff brutal. Worse, there wasn’t even a kid’s club. Not that there were any kids, but details are important. I decided to get away from it all with a group of fellow travellers and went for a long walk. My top tip: carry more water.” – User Wiescr@cker42

The Croods

The Film
The Crood family, led by paranoid patriarch Grug (Nicolas Cage), has survived the harsh life of a prehistoric world by being as smart as they possibly can, given that their brains are still developing. They’re driven by fear and hunger, hiding in their cave from predators and hunting other creatures for food. But teenage daughter Eep (Emma Stone) longs for more, and gets her wish when a continental shift destroys their home and they meet Guy (Ryan Reynolds), who convinces them that safer lands lie far away. But will they survive the journey? Well, The Croods 2 is in development…

TrekAdvisor review
“At first I was terrified to even go outside too often, but Guy really opened up my worldview. In the end, though I was nearly burned to death and threatened by lots of beasts, I embraced the journey. Even dad seemed to have a good time! Would recommend to all my friends, but they’re mostly dead from a volcano so I don't really have any. Ug.” – User Thunktastic

Walkabout

The Film
When their father goes mad, shoots at them and commits suicide during an outback picnic, an unnamed Girl (Jenny Agutter) and her little brother (director Nic Roeg’s son Luc, credited as Lucien John) find themselves stranded in the unforgiving Australian wilderness. After attempting to walk back to civilization, they’re discovered by an Aboriginal man (David Gulpilli), who helps them find water and shares food he has hunted. The rest of their journey is filled with incidents and the story has gone down as a classic of the travel genre, notable for its blasé attitude to Agutter’s nudity in one scene, which caused problems American censors, landing it with an R-rating that was reduced to a PG-equivalent on appeal.

TrekAdvisor review
“When my dad announced we were going on a fun picnic, I thought it would be a wonderful time. Then he started playing a gun game and vanished. My sister and another boy took me on a long walk and I nearly died. The older boy later played a game with a rope and I was told to stay away from him. I’m pretty certain I have massive emotional trauma that will lead to expensive therapy bills in my future.” – User BoyzNTheOutBack

The Incredible Journey

The Film
When the Hunter family leaves their three pets – bull terrier Bodger, labrador Luath and Siamese cat Tao - with a friend while they go on holiday, a series of assumptions means no one realises when they animals decide to head out on a 250-mile trek to return to their home. Through wordless, barking/meowing communication, the three creatures encourage each other as they battle hunger, hunters and tough obstacles. Disney liked the film so much that the company remade it in 1993 and gave the animals the voices of Don Ameche, Sally Field and Michael J. Fox, but the original version is undoubtedly better.

TrekAdvisor review
“Upon deciding to flee my newly established captivity with yet another human overseer, I allowed two vacuous canines to accompany me, figuring their size and strength would be useful despite their relative lack of intelligence. In my opinion, the wilds of northern Canada are no place for a refined feline, and I would in future recommend taking the train instead. When I am ruler of this planet, I shall make sure all cats travel free. Now I must end this review and stare at my upright oppressor until I am given tuna.” – User TaoOfDominance

Stand By Me

The Film
Rob Reiner’s beloved adaptation of Stephen King’s coming-of-age novella The Body finds four young friends who go on a hike to see a corpse. Ah, to be young in the 1950s, when kids didn’t have X-Stations or FaceTweet to keep them amused and had to be content with cadavers. Gordie (Wil Wheaton), Chris (River Phoenix), Teddy (Corey Feldman) and Vern (Jerry O’Connell) brave dangerous rail tracks, swampy leech encounters and bullies to make their dead guy-seeing dreams come true. Along the way, they share stories, jokes and, though Gordie doesn’t realise until he’s older, learn life lessons.

TrekAdvisor review
“As I sit down to write this review, I realise several things. One: that my last nine attempts to submit it have been rejected because they exceeded the word length like snakes trying to cram into a shoebox. Two: experiences like this are hard to put into words when you write them up years later, and they’ve become hazy, as if a ghost were trying to play the trumpet. Three: Taking a long walk to see a body is a really stupid idea, like teaching a rabbit to use fireworks.” – User GordieLastChance59

Journey To The Centre Of The Earth (2008)

The Film
Jules Verne’s classic 1864 science fiction novel has been adapted several times, and while this could be deemed at best a semi-sequel to the original story, it is at least the only one to feature Brendan Fraser. He plays volcanologist Trevor Anderson, whose brother Max dies while exploring the volcano he believed to be the real-world setting for Verne’s tales of an ecosystem beneath the Earth. With Max’s son Sean (Josh Hutcherson) pointing him in the right direction, they journey… well, the title says it all really. They face perils including killer fish, cave-ins and a giganotosaurus.

TrekAdvisor review
“I had an awesome time on this hike, even though I was facing mortal peril at every turn and had to spend time with my uncle. It’s inspired me to book another trip, but I might wait a year or so and maybe go with my new stepdad on another completely ill-advised but somehow successful trip to a mysterious island or something. Maybe I’ll even meet a girl and get to experience kissing and stuff.” – User VerneSeanRulez

Scott Of The Antarctic (1948)

The Film
The very real and – spoiler alert, even though it’s based on history and came out in the 1940s – very unsuccessful attempt by Robert Falcon Scott to reach the South Pole first is the basis for this film, which casts John Mills as Scott. After rounding up the funds for his ambitious trip, Scott endures below-freezing temperatures, unstable ice and having to shoot the ponies the men have brought as pack animals halfway to the pole. And even when he arrives, he’s disappointed, because Norwegian Roald Amundsen has beaten him to it, leaving a letter he wants delivered to the King Of Norway, presumably reading “First!!!!111!!!!!!” To add lethal insult to injured pride, no one from the expedition made it back, though Scott wrote in his diary that he did not regret the trip.

TrekAdvisor review
“I may have indicated that I had no regrets about this adventure, but I must share my disappointment at the lack of facilities along the way. There were no Happy Eaters or Little Chefs, and it is scant comfort that neither would be invented for 40 years. To anyone attempting this or any other Antarctic trip in future, I have but one piece of advice: make sure the bloody Norwegians haven’t thought of it first.” – User ScottsGhost