The great outdoors has often served as a source of inspiration for Hollywood. From gripping real-life survival stories like The Way Back to compelling documentaries like 180° South, there’s a long history of feature films capturing the relationship between man and nature. Luckily, Netflix has plenty of these options available in its instant streaming collection. Here are six of the best outdoor-themed movies you can watch on Netflix right now.
1. The Way Back
Inspired by the 1956 memoir The Long Walk, the 2010 Peter Weir-directed drama follows the story of former Polish POW Slawomir Rawicz and a group of survivors, who escape from a Soviet Gulag during World War II and walk 4,000 miles to freedom. As they trek to Mongolia, they are forced to survive off the land and battle the most extreme weather, from severe snowstorms to desert heat.
The movie stars Jim Sturgess, Colin Farrell, Ed Harris, and Saoirsa Ronan and received a 75% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the critical consensus being that while not an entirely emotionally genuine portrayal, the film gives a detailed, in-depth look at the effects of such a grueling journey.
The 2013 drama, based on Robyn Davidson’s memoir of the same name, chronicles the author’s 1977 nine-month, 1,700-mile journey on camels across the Australian desert. Meanwhile, National Geographic photographer Rick Smolan documents her journey. Mia Wasikowska stars as Davidson, while Adam Driver portrays Smolan.
The movie, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2013, currently holds an 81% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes. The film has earned high praise for Wasikowska’s compelling lead performance, which is further boosted by the project’s gorgeous cinematography capturing the Australian outback.
3. Touching the Void
The 2003 documentary, based on the book of the same name, follows Joe Simpson and Simon Yates’ disastrous and near-fatal attempt to climb Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in 1985. The film combines documentary footage of interviews conducted with Simpson, Yates, and Richard Hawking with re-enacted scenes. It has earned high critical acclaim, with critics calling it “breathtaking stuff that freezes the toes [and] harrows the soul.” The movie currently holds a 93% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes.
4. The Way
Directed by Emilio Estevez, this adventure drama follows as a father heads overseas to recover the body of his estranged son who died while traveling the “El Camino de Santiago,” also known as The Way of Saint James. Driven by sadness and a need to understand his son better, he decides to take the pilgrimage himself, trekking from the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela in the northwest of Spain. The movie features plenty of heartfelt moments, captured against the backdrop of beautiful mountain scenery and ancient architecture. The film currently holds an 82% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes.
5. 180° South
The 2010 documentary, directed by Chris Malloy, covers the journey of Jeff Johnson as he travels from Ventura, California to Patagonia, Chile, emulating the 1968 trip taken by Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins (who went on to found brands Patagonia and The North Face, respectively).
After finding footage of the original expedition, Johnson decided to make climbing the Corcovado Volcano in Patagonia his life goal and, after consulting with Chouinard and Tompkins, planned his own journey. The documentary delivers some significant commentary on the environmental issues in South America, as well as some truly stunning visuals.
The 1993 Frank Marshall-directed film recreates the true story of the Uruguayan rugby team that crashed into the Andes mountains on October 13, 1972 while traveling on Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, and their desperate attempts to survive.
Based on Piers Paul Read’s 1974 book Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors, the movie stars Ethan Hawke, Vincent Spano, and Josh Hamilton. The film earned generally positive reviews and remains one of the most unflinching portrayals of how far people will go to survive in the dangerous outdoors.
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