In the Footsteps of Marco Polo + The Motorcycle Diaries

Double feature: “In the Footsteps of Marco Polo” and “The Motorcycle Diaries” depict two enchanting, inspiring journeys themselves enchanted by the felicity of well-matched travel partners.

The compatibility of both pairs of travelers is in part due to a shared receptivity to, and a hunger in equal degree for, lived experience that transcends particular furrows of personality.

For all their visual splendor, both films are heavily indebted to the written word for narrative propulsion and depth of feeling.  “In the Footsteps of Marco Polo” documents a journey inspired by a famous travel text, while “The Motorcycle Diaries” imagines the journey inspiring another notable travelogue.

Both pairs of travelers rely on planted newspaper accounts of their journeys to lend credibility and legitimacy to their sojourns – to turn their private complicity in a shared goal of motion into an outward-facing endeavor.  Letters of introduction and heartfelt speeches temporarily situate the protagonists within foreign communities, where the spirits they brush against are permanently enshrined into their worldviews.

For a marathon: Add “The Darjeeling Limited” to the bill for a more quarrelsome, but related, exploration of travel’s spiritual potential, as well as its simultaneous isolation and fellowship.

(Creative Commons licensed original images courtesy of “Another Pint Please…” and “ElBroka bicicletea por Auckland” at Flickr)

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