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Films To Watch before visiting Bali
Written by Siddhi on May 29, 2020 Share on

10 Best Films To Watch Before You Pack Your Bags To Bali!

In preparation for a vacation, we generally immerse in visualising the place through pictures, movies and documentaries. Most of them fall in love with Bali as they would have seen the movie Eat, Pray, Love. to visit this island paradise. This island has a sense of peace through the kindness of the Balinese people, the unique culture, and a slower pace of life. You will definitely take subsequent trips, and experience the old way of life that still exists through Balinese rituals in small towns and the signs of Dutch colonial rule. It’s truly fascinating.

Following are some movies filmed in Bali and documentaries about Bali and Indonesia. These celebrate the Balinese culture and provide more insight into its complex history both from family native structures and Dutch colonial rule.


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10 Films to Watch Before Visiting Bali

  • Eat Pray Love (2010)
  • Toute La Beauté Du Monde (2006)
  • The Endless Summer 2 (1994)
  • The Fall (2006)
  • Alex Cross (2012)
  • Bali: Heaven and Hell (2014)
  • The More Things Change (2017)
  • Ring of Fire: An Indonesian Odyssey (1999)
  • Bali Is My Life (2012)
  • Legong, Dance of the Virgins (1935)

1. Eat Pray Love (2010)

Eat Love Pray Movie
Image Credits: Google Images

Eat, Pray, Love (it is both a book and a movie) have become a worldwide sensation and likely needs no introduction as it has that launched many women’s trip to Bali and solo travel in general. On a recent trip to Bali, I overheard 3 different conversations in a restaurant mentioning this book as inspiration for their trips – both culturally and as a spiritual journey.

Gilbert’s novel is about a year-long journey to Italy (Eat), India (Pray), and Bali (Love) as the woman takes a year for self-examination and immerses herself in each culture to spark magic and joy back in her life. The book and movie both highlight the beauty of Bali and especially Ubud as she bikes through rice fields, explores the markets and visits healers. Regardless of your thoughts on the movie or lifestyle, this book has sparked millions of people and especially women to examine their lives and dare to dream.

2. Toute La Beauté Du Monde (2006)

This French movie called “All the beauty of the world” was shot in Indonesia in Bali & Lombok. A French Woman, Tina, travels to Bali after her husband’s death. During her stay, she befriends a French gentleman who becomes her travel guide, friend and more. Who wouldn’t fall in love taking in all these beautiful spots in Indonesia? Bali locations include Kuta Beach, Legian, Seminyak, Ubud, the rice terraces of Jatiluwih, Mount Batukaru, and Tanah Lot.

3. The Endless Summer 2 (1994)

The endless Summer movie
Image Credits: Google Images

Endless Summer II is the follow-up to Bruce Brown’s 1966 surfing documentary. The filmmakers and surfer dudes, Robert ‘Wingnut’ Weaver (whom I met in Santa Cruz in 2016) and Patrick O’Connell return after almost three decades to surf the wonderful waves of exotic spots around the world filmed in the first film, which includes Bali at some point around the last third length of the film.

In the Bali part of their tour, the surfing is interlaced with scenes of the gorgeous landscapes, rice paddies, culture and colourful ceremonies, gamelan music, rural village scenes, Tanah Lot Temple, and Uluwatu Temple that overlooks one of the island’s best surf spots, Kuta Beach.

4. The Fall (2006)

Set in 1915, a stuntman Roy Walker (Lee Pace) is hospitalized after a filming accident when he meets a young girl recovering from a broken arm. The two form a friendship as he tells her a fantastical tale that is visually depicted throughout the movie, with locations shot in exotic places around the world.

The Fall includes scenes in Bali – Tegallalang rice terraces and the Gunung Kawi temple in Tampaksiring with a Kecak dance performed in front of it.

5. Alex Cross (2012)

Alex Cross is an action film based on the novel I, Alex Cross by James Patterson. The film starring Tyler Perry was, unfortunately, a box office bomb, but has beautiful scenes in Bali. The story is about a ‘wild goose chase’ between Detroit lieutenant Alex Cross and a ruthless fugitive who murdered his wife, which leads to a manhunt in Bali. Consider this also your warning of possession and distribution of drugs which are punishable by death according to Indonesian law. Bali locations include the coast near Jasri village in Karangasem, East Bali and many locals were cast in this film.

6. Bali: Heaven and Hell (2014)

Bali : Heaven and Hell movie
Image Credits: Google Images

As the title suggests, this documentary shows the two sides of Bali from its transformation from a peasant Dutch colony to a tourist mecca. Heaven highlights the stunning landscapes and the Balinese culture, past and present, that everyone falls in love with. The documentary also contrasts this with the darker side of this country including scenes from the 2002 bombings. This documentary is based on the book by Phil Jarratt.

7. The More Things Change (2017)

This documentary featuring American surfer, journalist, and actor Gerry Lopez, focuses on one of Bali’s most popular surfing destinations, Uluwatu. Hawaiian Gerry Lopez first visited Bali In 1974 and fell in love while he surfed along the Bali waves. In collaboration with local NGO Project Clean Uluwatu, Lopez returns to the same spots 40 years later. The documentary highlights plans to improve the local community and provides some important context and conservation concerns.

8. Ring of Fire: An Indonesian Odyssey (1999)

The five-part documentary goes beyond Bali and captures many of the islands on the Indonesian archipelago. Funded by the BBC and Ringo Starr, two brothers, Lorne and Lawrence Blair, immersed themselves in the Indonesian culture for over a decade starting in 1972 and documented their insights on these beautiful islands including Komodo islands, Aru and New Guinea, the Celebes, and finally in Bali where they built a home up in Ubud. Bali scenes include traditional boats on the coast of Sanur, rituals in southern Bali, Mount Agung and Besakih temple in Karangasem, and many experiences in rural Bali.

9. Bali Is My Life (2012)

Bali Is My Life
Image Credits: Google Images

This 10-minute documentary film is an insider’s guide to Bali’s best scenes, from picturesque scenery, to temple ceremonies. Produced by the people of Bali are highlights a culture motivated by respect and care for the island’s culture and ecosystems.

10. Legong, Dance of the Virgins (1935)

This silent film features an all-Balinese cast living their lives in the village with dance performances and music. The film has a fictional script of a love triangle between a gamelan player and two Legong dance sisters. This film is most importantly a glimpse into the traditional way of Balinese life from a time long gone including temple rituals.


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