Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. – Mark Twain (The Inocents Abroad)
I love to armchair travel.
For those not entirely sure what this phrase means, it refers to the practice of sitting down, and letting your mind travel into wonderful and whimsical worlds of other people, lands and stories.
There is so much to learn in the universe, and those with little time and non-existent travel funds will find that one of the best ways to open your eyes and broaden your mind is to turn on a quaint or exotic documentary, and relax.
Therefore, this article will be dedicated to providing you with a unique list of documentaries for your armchair travelling disposal, on perhaps some of the most intriguing and mysterious topics known to man: silence, solitude and strange people.
Silence (Ireland, 2012)
Sound recordist Eoghan, receives a job offer to record solitary landscapes, free of sound, in Ireland. This is a mesmerizing and quietly intense look into silence and solitude.
The Big Silence (UK, 2010)
Benedictine Monk, Christopher Jamison, sets up a three month experiment involving five ordinary people. His goal is to teach them the value of silent meditation, and have them take the practice into their everyday lives. A thought-provoking film about the Christian tradition of silence vs. everyday life.
Emma Orbach (UK, 2012)
58 year old Emma Orbach lives in a remote, secluded house in the Welsh mountains. In her opinion, the quality of life is decreasing. “Everything is speeding up and becoming more stressful”, she says.
Faustino’s Patagonian Retreat (US, 2011)
What is it like to live forty years in complete solitude? 81 year old Faustino Barrientos has been there, and done that, and is here to tell us what it’s like.
Richard (England, 2012)
Richard has a strange job, and an even stranger lifestyle. He works as a piano tuner, classifies himself as a “working homeless”, and lives with no fixed address.
Two Years At Sea (UK, 2011)
Atmospheric and mesmerizing, this documentary follows the life of Jake Williams, a hermit of Northern Scotland living an entirely isolated existence. Completely absorbing. Must be seen to be believed.
How To Be Alone (Canada, 2010)
A quirky, uplifting and poetic short film about loneliness and solitude. Truly worth taking a look at. Tanya Davis, the narrator and writer of the film, has a beautiful way of making aloneness something both acceptable and desirable.
Moneyless In Moab (US, 2006)
Daniel Suelo is an intriguing man. He quit “normal” life in 2000, and ever since then has lived in a cave outside of Moab, Utah. His days consist of dumpster-diving, volunteering, working for food and foraging.
Dancing With The Dead (China, 2013)
Translator of Ancient Chinese poetry, Bill Porter (or “Red Pine”), explores the world of eremitism and solitude in Chinese thought and religion.
Please feel free to add unique entries to this list by leaving a comment below!