Times must really be desperate if I’m devoting an entire post to the foreign film genre. Did I even use the word ‘genre’ right? I feel like it’s interchangeable with the word ‘category’ but I could be wrong. Also, am I using those single quote marks correctly? I don’t even know who I am anymore.
Sooo yeah foreign films. This is a dry subject that I’m going to try to make fun and colorful! Most people roll their eyes at foreign films because they’re a lot of work:
A) They’re hard to find. You can’t just run to Target an pick up a copy of Gomorra. It’s just not gonna happen. They do have every season of Friends available though.
B) They require a lot of attention. You can’t play Candy Crush and read subtitles at the same time (much to my chagrin).
C) It’s hard to know which movie to choose when you’re unfamiliar with another country’s actors and actresses. It’s also difficult because you most likely haven’t heard much about any titles or watched any trailers for these movies. So how do you know where to start?
The words ‘foreign film’ mean different things to different people. To some, it simply means any movie with subtitles. To others it means films made by foreign directors. And a lot of people equate the term with anything that isn’t American made.
I personally feel like it’s a combination of all three. It definitely depends on the film, but not all movies with subtitles constitute a foreign film in my book. For example, I don’t think of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds as a foreign film even though most of the movie is subtitled. However, I feel like some movies that are spoken in English are foreign to me simply because they take place in a different country, like Slumdog Millionaire for example.
If you have no idea where to start, here are some of my favorite foreign films:
Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro, 2006) This magical tale takes place in fascist Spain in the 40’s. The main character is a young girl who moves with her mother into a new, grand house with storybook surprises around every corner. It’s a beautiful movie and a captivating story.
The Magdalene Sisters (Peter Mullan, 2002) Taking place in the harsh Catholic society of Ireland, this movie shows the devastating struggles that women had to endure in asylum laundry houses. It’s unbelievable. A great story that you’ll never forget. (No subtitles)
Raise the Red Lantern (Yimou Zhang, 1991) The fascinating story of the four wives to a powerful lord in 1920’s China. At just nineteen years old, Songlian is sent to become the master’s fourth wife and learns the ins and outs of her new home.
Amélie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001) Amélie is just trying to make sense of the world around her. She wants adventure and something worth living for. Her escapades in Paris are sweet and fun to watch. She’s an enjoyable character that you can’t help rooting for.
Bicycle Thieves aka The Bicycle Thief (Vittorio De Sica, 1948) The touching story of a man and his son looking for their stolen bicycles. The twosome run all over Rome in search for their bikes. It’s frustrating and sad but overall a good watch.
Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, 2008) A true vampire classic, this story is about a lone female vampire living in the frozen tundra of Sweden. She befriends a young boy living in her neighborhood and protects him when he needs her help. A great and creepy story of what life must really be like for those sad vampire children.
M (Fritz Lang, 1931) This early black and white tale takes place in a German town where a child murderer is on the loose. Unable to catch him, locals keep their eye out for the criminal. It’s a great early cinematic production worth watching.
Do you like foreign films? What are some of your favorites?