Last summer, I discovered the Around the World in 80 Books group on Goodreads. I am not exaggerating when I say that ATW and Humans of New York are the only good things about the Internet. (Well, and Seamless. And like five other things. But you know what I mean.) The great thing about ATW is that it makes you read things you might not otherwise—or that I haven’t read, in any case. Only three percent—three percent!—of books published in the U.S. are in translation. How else are we supposed to find out about, like, French affairs or Chinese mining dramas or Turkish wedding parties without translators?
So that has been going great—so great, in fact, that I started doing the same thing with movies. The last three weeks I’ve been sick at home (FLU), and I had only two options: TV/Netflix/iTunes, or sleep. I started with The Hunt (Denmark)—not because I wanted to do a film version of ATW, but because I could only watch so much White Collar on Netflix (actually this is kind of a lie, since I can apparently watch all of it), and I found it on a list of movies to watch. (Also, because Mads.)
Then I realized I was watching a Danish movie, and there was something special about watching a Danish movie. And I wanted to keep going. So I watched Kitchen Stories (Norway). (I didn’t love this movie because I don’t love movies where (spoiler text in white) nice old men die of broken hearts because their horse died and their new BFF had to briefly go away before he came back for Christmas dinner.) Then I kept going.
Note: These countries are contiguous. SO EXCITING THAT WAY. I mean, it’s insane: You can actually see how attitudes, mores, dress, everything—how it all changes as you move. I mean, obviously, you’re dealing with a tiny little sliver of life—but it’s still all in there. Next I watched Force Majeure, and let me tell you, you need to watch this film immediately—it’s terrific. It’s Swedish, and about a Swedish couple whose relationship falls apart after the husband flees in the face of danger instead of protecting his family. Also, it has Tormund Giantsbane, and he is amazing. How could this shit get any better?
I once got a job—my very first out-of-college job, as a movie critic of all things—because of a little speech I gave my soon-to-be-employer about the use of sound in Contact. But the sound in Force Majeure is amazing. Please watch it, and then tell me how great it is. It is that great.
It can be frustrating, being a travel writer who cannot travel—for whatever reason, including my own (FLU). But both ATW and my film version of it have provided the same sort of window onto other cultures—which of course, is the at the heart of what makes traveling so endlessly fascinating. And since my ATW: BOOK situation is currently stuck on Anna Karenina (where I expect to be for the next month or so), I’m so glad I have ATW: MOVIES to keep me out in the world, as it were.
Here’s the list I’ll be working from:
St. Pierre et Miquelon
Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of
Antigua and Barbuda
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Martin (French Part)
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Sint Maarten (Dutch Part)
Trinidad and Tobago
Turks and Caicos Islands
Virgin Islands, British
Virgin Islands, U.S.
Belgium: Broken Circle Breakdown
France: Blue Is the Warmest Color
Holy See (Vatican City State)
Isle of Man
Netherlands: Winter in Wartime
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of
Denmark: The Hunt
Norway: Kitchen Stories
Svalbard and Jan Mayen
Sweden: Force Majeure
Central African Republic
Congo, The Democratic Republic of the
Equatorial Guinea [includes the islands of Annobón and Bioko]
Mauritius [includes Rodrigues]
Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
Sao Tomé and Principe
Tanzania, United Republic of
Iran: A Separation
United Arab Emirates
Georgia: In Bloom
SOUTH + SE ASIA
Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of
Korea, Republic of
Taiwan, Province of China
Ukraine: The Tribe
Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Micronesia, Federated States of
Northern Mariana Islands
Papua New Guinea
United States Minor Outlying Islands (includes the Howland-Baker, Johnston, Midway, US Line and Wake island groups)
Wallis and Futuna
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