As our film industry is so healthily saturated with regular releases spanning a wide range of tastes and genres, it is often easy to overlook movies making waves in other, non-English speaking countries. If you are yet to delve into the world of foreign-cinema, the following 10 choices may do well to be your first.
10. The Conformist
This Italian piece paved the way for many of the conventions still relevant in modern cinema, as well as acting as one of the first to confront the fascism Europe was subjected to 3 decades previously. Based on a novel by Mussolini era journalist Alberto Moravia, the movie tackles the issues surrounding the act of conforming, in this case with regards to a totalitarian government such as Mussolini’s. The cinematography in the piece is often championed as some of the best ever, and it’s easy to see why.
9. Pans Labyrinth
This time set in fascist 1940’s Spain; Pans Labyrinth is the tale of a young girl and her escape from reality into a fantasy world. Despite sounding like a walk in the park, the world which she uses to vent her confusion and loneliness is every bit as terrifying as the civil war torn reality she must endure for real. Featuring some inspiring special effects which act to provide the viewer with an eclectic mixture of some particularly imaginative monsters, the movie is often cited as a modern great- drawing an un-mistakable and sobering line between the magic of childhood and the realities of adulthood.
8. Seven Samurai
In a time when the dusty western cowboy flick dominated American cinema screens, along came Japans ‘Seven Samurai’. Basically a solid interpretation of themes commonly conveyed in aforementioned westerns, this early trip into the power and potential of Samurai culture within cinema follows seven skilled warriors and their mission to protect a village from bandits. Not the most intricate of plots no, but this piece certainly helped pave the way for the modern violent action movie.
7. Das Boot
Often praised as the most gripping take on WWII camaraderie to date, Das Boot (the boat) is several hours of intense U-Boat set claustrophobia and the effect it has on a crew that (for the most part) are disenchanted with their cause. Patrolling the Atlantic and Mediterranean Oceans with nothing but anticipation for company, the movie chooses to focus on the portrayal of the psychological conditions of the men underwater than it does solid plot. Despite touching on some of those quickly boring war-movie clichés, Das Boot is an odyssey of endurance.
Amelie is the critically acclaimed story of a young French woman who, after devoting much of her life in the pursuit of securing other people happiness, finally comes across the key to her own inner joy. Having endured a distanced childhood, Amelie moves to Paris to work as a waitress, soon setting out to assist her many acquaintances with their misgivings. After a while her attention turns toward her own position in life, and she sets out to seek love. The overall tone of the piece carries something very magical yet in a way self-conscious, making for an intriguing watch.