Wes Anderson’s film the Darjeeling Limited is based on the story of three brothers who go on a railway journey throughout India. However, films are only contested reproductions of nature. How do real-life tourists who chose to travel through the country by train actually perceive the journey and how do their impressions differ from or are similar to the three brothers’ experiences in the film? This research carries out a thematic analysis of the film and of existing websites and travel blogs dedicated to the discussion of ‘doing rail tourism’, drawing on current debates such as orientalism and spiritual tourism. The findings of this research will contribute to people’s understanding of how certain representations and discourses shape tourist expectations, how they influence the way the ‘other’ is consumed and how power over destinations is exercised by texts. Even though India is often represented as unsafe for foreigners, this image is not always justified. Results show that railway tourism is favored by many travelers for its exclusive character, the offered chance to interact with locals, to experience India as authentically as possible and derive meaning from the journey. Some films stimulate the tourists’ desire for real travel.
Author: J. Hammacher (2014)