films, Travel

The Volunteer Voyager presents their first movie night

It has been fun watching movies set in the cities I’ve been travelling. Thank you to my VPN technology. Some were a completely new viewing when in the city whilst I have also included a few firm favourites that highlight European delights. It’s Monday, what better way to spend a quiet night in recovering from work or the kids. These are a few recommendations for either scenic excellence or respectful Hollywood-ed history.


The Third ManThe 3rd Man is gripping. Black and white mastery, a simple premise and hardly any characters required. A few shots of Vienna that’d you’d recognise after visiting but not vice versa. I thoroughly enjoyed even with the slower pace of movies from the time. I can’t say much more as it’ll give the plot away. The mystery thriller screenplay is written by Graham Greene with a not so well-known Orson Welles skulking fantastically in doorways. Dark and atmospheric, Vienna is shown to be beautiful even in its post-WWII dereliction and ruin.

A must see.  In 1999, The British Film Institute spent the year questioning 1,000 movers and shakers within the film business, including the likes of Terry Gilliam, Neil Jordan, Mike Leigh and Jeremy Irons.  To vote for the best of British.  This film was voted number ONE!

If you watch it and like it, there is a museum in Vienna dedicated to the film, it is played twice a week in Vienna’s Burg Kino and you can tour the locations used.


Woman in Gold is a biographical drama about Maria Altmann’s attempt to recover five Gustav Klimt paintings stolen from her family by the Nazis in Austria, 1938. The paintings included the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I. Adele being Altmann’s aunt and the portrait being re-titled as Woman in Gold. Altmann took her legal battle all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, which ruled on the case Republic of Austria v. Altmann in 2004. I knew nothing of the real-life news story at the time. Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds do well to hold up a pretty run-of-the-mill script. I think it could have been darker. I knew I would love it though, I will happily watch Ryan Reynolds do anything and I appreciate the subject. The portrait is from Klimt’s “Golden Period”. A collection of enigmatic mosaic and shimmery pieces that appeal to my magpie ‘all that glitters’ gene.


The Sound of Music is an institution. It is a tradition of our formative years, especially at Christmas time. I say our, this is a Brit thing. The Austrians have only just welcomed the stage performance at the Salzburger Landestheater in 2011! The first time, an astounding 46 years after it was filmed. I love, love, loved taking a bike tour in Salzburg with the tour guide projecting the music in front of us participants. While we have the words to sing along fixed to the handlebars. Cycling through the fields and parks of Salzburg singing the Hills are Alive was hilarious and extremely satisfying. I just needed my favourite things in my bike basket. The film is family fun with catchy tunes and a surprisingly upbeat pantomime feel considering the background story of a family escaping the Nazi invasion of Austria. A heroine in Maria, a gruff tough Captain needing softening up and the Baroness is the wicked witch of the west.

Sound of Music

The Czech Republic pretending to be Poland [maybe Lithuania]

YentlYentl was one of my mum’s favourite films, I think… that list seems to frequently change. But then so does mine. We saw it a lot as kids… I think. My memory isn’t hot so maybe it was my 14-year-old sister putting the videotape in the player. I could be wrong. The film is a 1983 American romantic musical drama based on the play of the same name by Leah Napolin and Issac Bashevis Singer. An Ashkenazi Jewish girl in Poland circa 1905 decides to dress and live like a man so she can receive an education in Talmudic Law. Her father had been secretly teaching her even though this was prohibited. Her father dies and her determination to learn grows even with the threat of being found out.

The Barbra Streisand vocals of ‘Papa Can You Hear Me’ are ingrained in the membrane. A must watch for romance and musical fans once you get past the slow beginning. It’s beneficial if you like Barbra – she’s in 99% of the scenes and sings every song. Golden Globe winner and Razzie nominee tell you what the reception was. Like Marmite, you’ll love it or hate it.


The PianistI was very slow to watch The Pianist. Only taken me 15 years to get round to watching this Oscar-winning Roman Polanski drama. Based on the autobiographical book The Pianist, a World War II memoir by the Polish-Jewish pianist and composer Władysław Szpilman, starring Adrien Brody. I’m not sure about Adrien’s Oscar win but yes, I was crying buckets at the end. I struggle when a filmed has been hyped so much, my expectation is too high. There were 3 moments when I held my breath at the action. It did make me think about the despair. This is based on true life, it is good not to forget that.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas


The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a heartbreaking film based on the novel by John Boyne. A novel that was a fiction set in a time and location of the horrific real-life concentration camp tragedies. You know what is going to happen but watching the unravelling is what is heartbreaking. I prepared myself for the worst but still bawled. It’s easy to watch, this in itself caused controversy – maybe all a little too easy. However, it is a children’s book adaptation.

I agree with historian Kathryn Hughes writing for The Guardian:  in relation to the implausibility of the plot, she argues that “Bruno’s innocence comes to stand for the wilful refusal of all adult Germans to see what was going on under their noses”.  I do not know enough detailed history but I do know the film is a haunting start to a conversation that needs to be had and should be watched by both adults and children alike.


Never watch…ever

Eat Pray Love.jpgYou’ll never get the time back. Eat Pray Love. Corny as hell. Julia Roberts should know better however I did enjoy spotting places in Naples and Bali.  India is on the ‘travel to do list’.

The film should be renamed. After my experiences of these countries, it should be called Graffiti Pray Sweat.

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