themes

Road Trips

Road Trips

One of cinema’s most abiding subgenres, road movies can be comedies, romances, thrillers, psychological dramas, or broader social commentaries. Tales of disillusionment or discovery, they are related to the bildungsroman, making literal the moral journeys characters undertake in that literary tradition—though modern films have often chosen to complicate that linear trajectory (some roads go in circles) or satirize the form (just ask the Leningrad Cowboys). At Criterion, we have a vast selection of movies in which the characters never really end up where they thought they would because by the time they reach their destination, they’ve become different people. Joel McCrea’s Hollywood director who finds out how the other half lives in Sullivan’s Travels may not seem to have much in common with Sandrine Bonnaire’s enigmatic drifter in Agnès Varda’s Vagabond, but both are transformed by their experiences on the open road.