The United States is car country. And so many movies made here reflect that.
There are tons of roadtrip films, like Little Miss Sunshine, The Blues Brothers, Thelma & Louise, and more. There’s a reason why so many great American films are about people in cars going places and finding themselves on the way.
Unlike other industrialized nations, we do not have an interconnected cross-country train system that can easily get us from point A to point B. Since the mid 1950s, the country has spent almost $10 trillion on roads and highways, yet agencies have only invested a quarter of that on trains and buses. A 2017 Census analysis found that driving to work is much quicker than using public transportation in most U.S. cities, because cars are prioritized.
There’s the Amtrak train system, of course, which is limited in scope and expensive. And there are local train systems, like the MTA in New York City. But in many parts of the country, cars and flights are the only reliable way to get anywhere.
Other parts of the world are marvelously well-connected by rail. Europe has so many train options that, at the end of 2022, the European Commission approved a decision to ban short flights in France, so long as there is a convenient train route that connects the two locations. In Japan, Shinkansen bullet trains rapidly and comfortably carry passengers between cities across the country.
And all those trains make great dramatic settings. These movies are fun watches, but they would never take place in the U.S. Warning: some spoilers ahead.