Movie Review - "A Map for Saturday"

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

On a trip around the world, every day feels like Saturday. A Map for Saturday reveals a world of long-term, solo travel through the stories of trekkers on four continents.

The documentary finds backpackers helping neglected Thai tsunami victims. It explains why Nepal’s guesthouses are empty and Brazil’s stoplights are ignored.

But at its core, Saturday tracks the emotional arc of extreme long-term travelers; teenagers and senior citizens who wondered, “What would it be like to travel the world?” Then did it.

In 2005 Brook Silva-Braga quit his job as an HBO producer, packed up his Manhattan apartment, and set off to travel the world for 50 weeks. He took 30 pounds of equipment and filmed as he went, creating "an intimate window onto the world of long-term, solo travel; moments of stark loneliness and genuine revelation."

He should have called it A Map for Pam, because it's a preview of the next year of my life, neatly packaged in a DVD that was mailed to me for $19.50 USD including shipping. I ran across a mention of the movie months ago, though I can't remember where. It excited me, but I didn't leap to buy it at the time, and then I lost track of the link and forgot about it. Last week I was browsing through my unsorted bookmarks and found it again. This time I didn't hesitate, and Wednesday night, after a particularly tiring day at work, I declared a moratorium on house work and settled in with pizza, beer, chips and the remote control.

Because I knew I was going to want to blog about the movie I took some notes along the way, and most of them ended up being direct quotes - things that really hit home with me. Then it gradually dawned on me that those quotes are really what I want to share about the movie. You've read the little synopsis, you probably watched the trailer, you get the idea. So instead of a blow-by-blow, here's what resonated with me:

On the topic of leaving:

"It seems like a great idea for the other guy to do, and you have decided to become the other guy."

"...the stomach-turning realization of what's ahead."

On India:

"As the traveling cliche goes: "There's the rest of the world, and then there's India."

"India is where itineraries go to die."

On life on the road:

"Four months living out of a bag dull the need for real luxury and warp long-held standards."

"The more you see of the world the less exotic it gets for you. You just get to know the differences between countries are smaller than you expect them to be."

"After half a year away the road truly feels like home."

"Kate doesn't know yet that women travelers invariably gain weight, but ... men mysteriously lose it."

On meeting people:

"The only people you interact with are people you'll never see again and are people you didn't know the day before."

"All the big feelings are at the beginning of the trip, but eventually you get numb, to how great the lifestyle is, how tough the goodbyes can be. You get good at goodbye, because you get more practice at goodbye than anyone should probably ever have."


"Brazil is so steeped in lawlessness that the laws have had to catch up. So it's actually legal now to run through red lights after dark. The danger of car-jacking is too great to stop."

On coming home:

"It doesn't feel like I'm going home in ten days. If you've ever gone home from a vacation, this feels nothing like that. It feels like moving, like breaking up with someone you love, like quitting a job."

"I think I became a much more confident person because when you travel on your own you have to be."

"I think the one thing that's changed about all of us who take this trip is that a normal life really doesn't seem all that attractive at all anymore. I can't imagine not traveling again. I can't imagine going back to a real job."

"No one understands. No one gets it. When you get home and everyone says, 'Oh so what did you do? How was it?' How do you explain to someone who has a 9 to 5 job, that does that every single day?"

"It's like my entire life had been written on this chalk board, and over those nine months it had slowly gotten smeared. So when I got home I was like 'Yeah, this is my family, yeah this is where I live,' but it was like I was coming back to something that I knew but I didn't feel like I fit into that anymore."

And the thing that sums it all up:
"I would love to go traveling again. And if I met anybody that was debating about whether to do it? Go do it. Because one thing I learned while you're away - you only regret the things that you don't do, not the things you do do."


Anonymous said...

Great quotes Pam - they all seem to fit don't they? We're planning on watching this movie this weekend.
Are you getting excited yet? We have 69 days to go! Is your house on the market yet? Cheers!!

TravelingToLive said...

Exciting and inspirational quotes! I might have to try and watch this movie. You only have 80 days left...I have 322, I am SO jealous!


Mitch said...

Sounds like a great movie!

For those of you following along the blog, I posted a comment about having received the postcard in the mail today. The comment is down the page a little in the postcard part of the blog titled "Snail Mail 2.0"

Anonymous said...

We watched the movie last night. If possible, I am even more excited. We just kept looking at each other and saying 'we're going to be doing this in 67 days!!'. Yay!!

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