Read It, Watch It, See It for Yourself

Read It, Watch It, See It for Yourself

Since Kerouac, adventure books and movies have gotten explorers on the road. FRANK BURES runs down five recent journey-inspiring hits.

Apr 7, 2008
Outside Magazine
Lord of the Rings DVD

Into the Wild
After Jon Krakauer's 1996 book made bestseller lists, hearty pilgrims began combing the Alaska backcountry for Christopher McCandless's bus, which sits 27 long and treacherous miles north of tiny Healy. The town's chamber of commerce has been getting about a dozen calls a year from hikers looking for location details, with numbers on the upswing thanks to Sean Penn's fall 2007 film. "We're expecting heavy foot traffic this summer," says Jon Nierenberg, who runs Healy's Earth Song Lodge. "If it had been nominated for best picture, they'd be coming out of the woodwork."

March of the Penguins
It's not easy (or cheap) reaching the end of the earth. But during the November–March travel season that followed the release of French filmmaker Luc Jacquet's 2005 documentary, 35,075 tourists visited Antarctica, 26 percent more than the previous year. And the penguin fever continues: Connecticut-based Quark Expeditions sold out all 324 spots on its 14-day Emperor Penguins safari tours to Antarctica last year—at $16,500 per person.

The Beach
British writer Alex Garland's 1996 novel, a cult classic about a backpacker who discovers a perfect, unspoiled stretch of sand on an unnamed Thai island, had paradise seekers heading east. Phuket, the Andaman Sea island that serves as gateway to the region's smaller isles, saw a 27 percent rise in American visitors the year after the book's 1997 American release. The 2000 film, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and filmed on tiny Phi Phi Le, bumped numbers up again, by nearly 20 percent.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Filmed at 150 locations in New Zealand, Peter Jackson's 2001–'03 Rings films created a new market for packaged "Middle-earth" tours. The New Zealand Tourism Board reports a 34 percent increase in visitors from 2000 to 2004—with travelers anxious to see the landscapes that became Mount Doom (the North Island's Tongariro National Park) and the Misty Mountains (the South Island's Remarkables range).

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
Bill Bryson's 1998 book fueled a 57 percent increase in through-hiking two years after its publication, with 633 completing the 2,175-mile trek from Georgia to Maine in 2000, reports Appalachian Trail Conservancy spokesperson Laurie Potteiger."I call it the Bill Bryson effect," she says.

Three more in the making

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
While details about the movie are still under wraps, director Steven Spielberg filmed in New Mexico, California, Connecticut, and Hawaii. If Web rumors are true and the storyline takes Harrison Ford's Indy to Mexico City and Peru, we're betting that fans will follow in his footsteps.

Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: 28,000 Miles in Search of the Railway Bazaar
In his latest narrative, Paul Theroux retraces the four-month journey he chronicled in his 1975 classic The Great Railway Bazaar, exploring by train, bus, car, and foot to see how things have changed in Eastern Europe, Russia, India, and Japan.

(WARNER BROS., 2009)
Johnny Depp stars as a bank robber who escapes from prison in Australia then reinvents himself as a doctor in Bombay. Directed by Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding), Shantaram is based on a semi-autobiographical 2003 novel by Gregory David Roberts that was a bestseller Down Under.

Filed To: Culture

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