The rush of the road? 'It's in our DNA'
Michael Köckritz is editor of German autos magazine Ramp. Passion for Cars: The Best of Ramp (TeNeues), out now, celebrates the magazine's 25th anniversary. All opinions expressed are his own.
What's essential for a good road movie?
It definitely needs a hero and a road, a car would be nice, too, and the horizon's part of the cast anyway. Literally, or metaphorically, just as long as it's not narrow.
An atmosphere of departure, the desire to make a difference, the hope for a better world or at least for a few fun adventures. The genre-specific leitmotif being: movement is part of the solution.
"Let's get out of here" is the most popular line in any road movie. Never has there been so much consequence in driving nowhere than in movies. It's part of our DNA. Evolutionary biology is to blame.
Mobility has always been essential for survival. Those who were able to move easier and faster than others immediately had a distinct advantage. And this has held true since the dawn of man.
Technical means of transportation were an important driver for our species, which has spread across the planet. Our passion for movement has become an archaic impulse, which explains our highly emotional affinity for cars. Anything that enhanced and simplified movement in a technical way went down in the annals of history. Children understand that instantly. Especially since they lack important motor skills at the beginning of their lives.
Whatever inspires these skills -- even if it's "only" in our imagination -- is strongly associated with intense emotions. What started as a mythological fantasy of mobility with the chariot of Gods or the dream of flying in the ancient world, becomes a libidinous fascination with any means of transport today, throughout all stages in life: from the balance bike to the scooter to actual cars.
And that's another reason why we may well get excited at the sight of a car.
Passion for Cars: The Best of Ramp is out now.