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European filmmakers of road movies appropriate the conventions established by American directors, while at the same time reformulating these approaches, by de-emphasizing the speed of the driver on the road, increasing the amount of introspection (often on themes such as national identity), and depicting the road trip as a search on the part of the characters.The German filmmaker Wim Wenders explored the American themes of road movies through his European reference point in his Road Movie trilogy in the mid-1970s.More broadly, European films are tending to use imagery of border-crossing and focusing on "marginal identities and economic migration", which can be seen in Lukas Moodysson's Lilja 4-ever (2002), Michael Winterbottom's In This World (2002) and Ulrich Seidl's Import/Export (2007).Road movies from Spain have a strong American influence, with the films incorporating the road movie-comedy genre hybrid made popular in US films such as Peter Farrelly's Dumb and Dumber (1994).
With the increasing depiction of racial minorities in Australian road movies, the "No Road" subgenre has also been associated with Asian-Australian films that depict travel using routes other than roads (e.g., the 2010 film Mother Fish, which depicts travel over water as it tells the story of the boat people refugees).US road movies examine the tension between the two foundational myths of American culture, which are individualism and populism, which leads to some road films depicting the open road as a "utopian fantasy" with a homogenous culture while others show it as a "dystopian nightmare" of extreme cultural differences.For example, in It Happened One Night (1934), a wealthy woman who goes on the road is liberated from her elite background and marriage to an immoral husband when she meets and experiences hospitality from regular, good-hearted Americans who she never would have met in her previous life, with middle America depicted as a utopia of "real community".Road movies are blended with other genres to create a number of subgenres, including: road horror (e.g., Near Dark from 1987); road comedies (e.g., Flirting with Disaster from 1996); road racing films (e.g., Death Race 2000 from 1975) and rock concert tour films (e.g., Almost Famous from 2000).
Film noir road movies include Detour (1945), Desperate, The Devil Thumbs a Ride (1947) and The Hitch-Hiker (1953), all of which "establish fear and suspense around hitchhiking", and the outlaw-themed film noirs They Live By Night (1948) and Gun Crazy.
The iconography of car crashes in many Australian road movies (particularly the Mad Max series) has been called a symbol of white-Indigenous violence, a rupture point in the narrative which erases and forgets the history of this violence.