If The charm and beauty of a tropical paradise like Bali can’t get you off your couch then hopefully one of the many artists, writers, or filmmakers can influence you by using their creative powers to tell stories about this small Indonesian island. Whether through their movies, music, or art, here are the best Bali-inspired films to watch before visiting, to educate you about the island’s culture, history, or serve as your compass throughout your stay in Bali.
The Endless Summer 2 (1994)
follow surfers Robert Weaver and Patrick O’Connell on their epic surfing documentary/ adventure along with Director Bruce Brown, who also created the original The Endless Summer thirty years earlier. Bali is featured, as one of the best surfing destination in the world, and the film captures beautiful beaches, rural villages, and Bali’s true lifestyle.
Ring of Fire: An Indonesian Odyssey (1999)
Whether you’re planning to visit Bali or not, this is a film to watch anyway. The five-part documentary captures the Indonesian archipelago perfectly, including Bali and the islands around it, which are featured in the second film, Dance of the Warriors. The creators, Lorne and Lawrence Blair, are two daring filmmakers who went to great lengths to immerse themselves in the lives of Indonesians. The brothers arrived in 1972 and traveled around for 10 years.
Bali Is My Life (2012)
This documentary film is produced by the people of Bali, motivated by respect and care for the island’s culture and ecosystems. It’s like an insider’s guide to Bali’s best scenes, from picturesque scenery, to temple ceremonies. Bali Is My Life showcases the wealth and warmth of the island, including the friendliness of its people, who truly embrace life in the magical island.
The More Things Change (2017)
This documentary features American surfer, journalist, and actor Gerry Lopez who focuses on one of Bali’s most popular surfing spots, Uluwatu. Lopez recalls when he first surfed there in 1974, a seed was planted within his heart which brought him back to the same surf scene 40 years later. This time the Hawaiian surfer observed a very different Uluwatu. Listen to Lopez as he describes a very different vibe and atmosphere. Produced in collaboration with local NGO Project Clean Uluwatu, the documentary highlights plans to improve the local community. If you’re planning to visit, this documentary will provide some important context and conservation concerns that will inspire you to Covering social, spiritual, cultural and tourism aspects. Be prepared to pack your bags and catch your first flight to Bali right after watching this documentary.
Toute La Beauté du Monde (2006)
This French movie was filmed in two of Indonesia’s most beautiful spots: Bali and its sister island Lombok which is why the title translates to “All the beauty of the world”. The movie is about a French woman who travels to Bali after her husband’s death. Love eventually enters her life once again which takes place in some of the same exact tourist destinations like Seminyak and Tanah Lot.
The Fall (2006)
A stuntman Roy Walker (Lee Pace) is hospitalized for a filming injury when he meets Alexandria (Cantica Untaru), who is recovering from her own injury. While Roy tells his personal travel adventures from around the world, Alexandrea begins to have a liking for Roy eventually leading to friendship, which dominates the screen throughout the movie. The movie, directed by Tarsem Singh, shows some of the planet’s most exotic spots, including Bali’s Mount Kawi Temple, Tegallalang Rice Terraces, and the Balinese Kecak dance.
Eat ,Pray, Love – (2010)
If you’re looking for a spiritual experience like Elizabeth Gilbert (Julia Roberts) did while seeing a medicine man for some future enlightenment then come join the many yogis, vegans, and free spirited expats that have settled in Ubud. Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a woman wanted –husband, house, successful career – but she still found herself lost and not very happy. After a divorce she decides to find herself like so many other expats around the world. Join her on her journey as she discovers new passions, inner peace, balance, and love in Indonesia.
Bali: Heaven and Hell (2014)
Besides the stunning landscapes of Bali, this short documentary portrays both sides of the island, the beautiful and ugly. Starting with scenes of the 2002 bombings, it continues by unfolding the island’s history. Based on a book by Phil Jarratt, the film offers contrasting images of modern and old Bali, giving us a more comprehensive picture of the past and present. As with everything else, Bali has its imperfections, but the documentary still reflects hope and love for the island.