As much as we love exploring the outdoors here at BRMB, we cannot get out there every day! That is why, on days when the weather will not cooperate, or we just do not have enough hours in the day for an adventure, we immerse ourselves in the outdoors through film!
Whether you are trying to cure some rainy-day blues, or looking to inspire your next backcountry adventure, these films will get your blood pumping and yearning for a day outdoors. So, cozy up, grab a bag of trail mix to munch on (to simulate the adventure of course) and check out our BRMB Team’s Top 15 Inspirational Backcountry Movies!
Adapted from the novel The Grizzly King, The Bear is a French film, set in British Columbia, Canada. Director Jean Jacques Annaud tells the story of an orphaned bear cub who is adopted by an adult male grizzly and the two pair up to escape the hunters pursuing them. Though there is little dialogue, the film beautifully captures a beginning to end tale of friendship, protection and survival.
Image: The Bear (1988)
Based on the book by Jon Krakauer, Into Thin Air – Death on Everest recreates the terrible events that occurred during a climb to Mount Everest on May 10, 1996. The story follows Krakauer (Christopher McDonald), and the climbing teams of Rob Hall (Nathaniel Parker) and Scott Fischer (Peter Horton). Through a monologue, the group describes how they are going to attempt their summit and when their intended completion date is. Along the way, everything seems to be going well, until storm clouds make their way towards the mountain. The film portrays what Krakauer was going through on this disastrous trek to Mount Everest, and accounts the disheartening events that happened.
Image: Into Thin Air - Death on Everest (1997)
In 1985 two climbers, Joe Simpson (Brendan Mackey) and Simon Yates (Nicholas Aaron), decided to attempt to be the first to successfully summit Siula Grande in Peru. While the pair reaches the peak within a few days, the journey down the mountain proved much more fiddicult. During their descent, Joe falls and breaks his leg, but the two push on in order to complete their feat. Along the way, Joe goes out over an overhang. With no way back up, Simon must make the decision to cut the rope and leave Joe to fall, possibly to his death. Touching the Void is a critically acclaimed docudrama takes you on the journey of two climbers and their miraculous journey in the Peruvian Andes.
Image: Touching the Void (2003)
Alone in the Wilderness (2004)
Alone in the Wilderness is an iconic documentary that tells the story of Richard Louis “Dick” Pronneke, a self-educated naturalist who spends close to 30 years alone in the backcountry of Alaska. Here, in the log cabin he constructed completely by hand, Proenneke hunted, fished and gathered his own food, but had supplies such as metals and unnatural materials flown in on occasion. His entire life in Alaska was documented in journals and on film which were later used to write books and produce the famous TV-movie Alone in the Wilderness. Following Pronneke’s first year in Alaska, Alone in the Wilderness tells the inspiring tale of not just surviving in the wilderness, but living and thriving there.
Image: Alone in the Wilderness (2004)
Following the life and death of bear enthusiast Timothy Treadwell, Grizzly Man is a well recognized documentary worldwide. Comprised of footage filmed by Treadwell himself, along with interviews of people he knew, and professionals who deal with wild bears, Grizzly Man tells the story of Treadwell’s attempt to become one with nature and wild grizzly bears. Director Werner Herzog narrates and offers his own interpretations of events throughout the film, noting that despite Treadwell’s desire to tame the wild bears, that nature is cold, harsh and unforgiving. Both Treadwell and his girlfriends were killed and eaten by a grizzly bear in 2003, and the 100s of hours of video footage filmed by the pair and used to create the award-winning documentary Grizzly Man wereretrieved after their death.
Image: Grizzly Man (2005)
Into the Wild (2007)
Written and Directed by Sean Penn, Into the Wild tells the story of main character Christopher McCandless, played by Emile Hirsch, as he attempts to figure his life out post graduation. After graduating at the top of his class from Emory University, McCandless sets out to not only find an adventure, but to find himself. He starts out by giving nearly all his life’s savings to charity, and begins his expedition towards Alaska. Along the way, McCandless comes across many people and places that help shape his journey. Into the Wild is an adaptation of the non-fiction book, based on a true story, written by Jon Krakauer. A story of life, loss and the thrill of finding yourself, Into the Wild takes viewers through the wonders and hardships of living life in the unforgiving backcountry.
Image: Into the Wild (2007)
Set in Germany, North Face is based on the true story of the famous 1936 attempt to summit the most dangerous rock face in the Alps. While the climb is undertaken by four climbers, the film predominantly features a pair of German mountaineers, Toni Kurz (Benno Fürmann) and Andi Hiterstoisser (Florian Lukas). As the two start their journey they run into an early love of Toni, who is a journalist sent to report on Toni and Andi’s ascent. The suspenseful adventure film puts viewers perfectly in the boots of Toni and Andi as they attempt to scale the unconquered 1,798 metre (5,900 ft.) Swiss massif – the Eiger.
Image: North Face (2008)
The Way (2010)
While walking the famous Camino de Santiago, known as The Way of Saint James, Daniel Avery (Emilio Estevez) is killed by a storm. Daniel’s Dad, Thomas Avery (Martin Sheen) travels to France to retrieve his son’s body, although once there he is filled with grief and decides to pay his son tribute by continuing the journey himself, with his son’s ashes in tow. As an inexperienced hiker, Tom endures many challenges, but collects a number of fellow travelers to help him on his trek. The Way follows the journey of a group of eccentric people, from all different countries, backgrounds and ethnicities, all looking to find a greater meaning in life.
Image: The Way (2010)
Along a trip through an isolated canyon in Utah, skilled mountain climber Aron Ralston (James Franco) is put to the test of survival after a boulder falls, crashing on his arm and trapping him in the canyon. Having not told anyone where he had gone, Ralston quickly finds himself in a race against time. 127 Hours is a true story of Ralston’s 5 days in the canyon where he was forced to do whatever he could to survive, even the unthinkable. While stuck, Ralston reflects on his family, lovers and friends and whether he will ever get the chance to see them again.
Image: 127 Hours (2010)
Mile…Mile & a Half (2013)
The John Muir Trail, a 340 km (211 mile) long trail stretching from Yosemite to Mt. Whitney attracts plenty of people each year, but the film Mile…Mile & a Half depicts the story of five friends who leave their lives in California behind to take on the trail. The goal of the 5 friends is to finish the grueling trek in only 25 days and capture every sight, sound and beautiful treasure they come across. With the groups inviting and encouraging nature, their circle of 5 quickly grows as other artists, musicians and adventurists join them along the way. The feature length documentary plays perfect homage to the saying “it’s about the journey, not the destination.”
Image: Mile….Mile & a Half
After the ending of her marriage, and death of her mother, Cheryl Strayed (played by Reese Witherspoon) sets out to take on 1,770 km (1,100 mi) of the 4,264 km (2,650 mi) Pacific Crest Trail. With absolutely no hiking experience, Strayed experiences many difficulties along the way, including improper cooking materials, dehydration and overall exhaustion. Stayed takes on the trail to escape her deep depression and heroin addiction and hopes to find peace with herself on the Pacific Crest. Along Strayed’s trip from the Mojave Desert, in Southern California, all the way to the Bridge of the gods, between Oregon and Washington, she encounters fellow hikers and animals that cause her to have flashbacks of her childhood life in Minnesota. Based on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Wild portrays the difficulties, and treasures of taking on the Pacific Crest Trail.
Image: Wild (2014)
Loosely based on a true story, Backcountry is a Canadian film about a backpacking trip of couple Alex (Jeff Roop), a seasoned outdoorsman, and Jenn (Missy Peregrym), a corporate lawyer. As the duo starts off on the secluded Blackfoot Trail, Alex quickly assures himself as a skillful and knowledgeable backcountry guide, and swears they can complete the trail without use of a map (big mistake). After an uncomfortable encounter with Brad (Eric Balfour), a man who also has the hots for Jenn, the couples desire to finish their trip heightens. After getting lost, having much of their food eaten and coming across a few surprises, the couple’s weekend getaway quickly becomes a nightmare trip as they struggle to not only reach the trail, but survive.
Image: Backcountry (2014)
Starring on-screen legend Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant is a semi-biographical film portraying the story of Hugh Glass’s life experiences in 1823. While venturing into uncharted wilderness, Glass was attacked by a bear and severely injured. While his hunting partners leave him for dead, Glass now must find his way home on his own using only his own survival skills. Along his journey, he must avoid natives who are in the middle of a hunt and get through the wintery backcountry to find John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), his former partner who abandoned him. The Revenant won a number of awards, including 3 Golden Globes, and Academy Awards for DiCaprio for Best Actor, Alejandro G. Iñárritu for Best Director and Emmanuel Lubezki for Best Cinematography.
Image: The Revenant (2015)
A Walk in the Woods (2015)
After living in New Hampshire for over 20 years, and publishing several popular books, Author Bill Bryson, played by Robert Redford, decides to take on a challenge instead of simply retiring. Bryson decides, with little to no hiking experience, to take on the challenging Appalachian trail. Bryson wishes to find peace and tranquillity along the rugged 3,540 km (2200 mi) trail, stretching from Georgia to Maine, although it ends up being anything but after partnering up with a former friend Stephen Katz, played by Nick Nolte. The pair have lost touch over the years, and though they are both looking for the adventure of a lifetime, they also may have different ideas of what “adventure” is to them. A Walk in the Woods is a lighthearted comedy about pushing yourself to the limits, no matter what those limits may be.
Image: A Walk in the Woods (2015)
In 1965, times were very different. 50 years ago, the idea of women and girls partaking in outdoor recreation activities was unheard of, and in fact, women were not even allowed to participate in the famous U.S Outward Bound Wilderness school. That is, until 24 women broke that rule. Women Outward Bound is a motivational documentary that tells the story of these remarkable women, surviving one month in the wilderness and breaking barriers to achieve equality for women for years to come.
Image: Women Outward Bound (2016)
What movie inspires you to get out and explore the backcountry? Comment below with your favourite flick to fuel adventure and share your magical movie night on Instagram with #brmblife to win great prizes!