Every time I’ll be studying abroad to learn a new language, or before I visit a new place, I make it a point to watch some of the popular, and not so well known, films from the country and in that particular language.
When studying abroad it’s helpful to immerse yourself within a different country’s arts – including music, theater, and film – in order to gain a better understanding of the country’s history, culture and language. It also gives you something to talk about with the locals, as everyone likes discussing foreign and American films alike. Below, I have listed my top five foreign films that I highly suggest watching. Enjoy!
1. Je t’aime, Je t’aime
Although I highly recommend any films from the French New Wave cinema era, my favorite from this period has to be “Je t’aime, Je t’aime”, which translates to “I Love You, I Love You”. In this sci-fi film, Claude Ridder participates in an experiment that allows him to time travel. When the experiment goes awry, Claude’s life is put on the line.
2. Lardi di Biciclette
Another one of my favorite foreign cinema movements is Italian Neorealism. An amazing film from this era is “Lardi di Biciclette”, or “Bicycle Thieves” in English. After World War II, a father in Rome, Italy looks for his stolen bicycle, which he needs in order to keep his job. After searching high and low for the stolen bike, the father – at a football game with his son – decides to take matters into his own hands.
3. El Laberinto del Fauno
“El Laberinto del Fauno” (“Pan’s Labyrinth”) is one of the most memorable films from my high school Spanish class. The story takes place in Spain, five years after the Spanish Civil War. To escape her ill mother, and her strict stepfather, Ofelia enters a magical world with a labyrinth, a faun, and other strange, magical creatures. This movie combines fantasy and animation for an exciting, action-packed story.
4. Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain (Amélie)
Amélie was the first foreign film I had ever watched, and I instantly fell in love. Although a bit weird and quirky, this romantic comedy is sure to please. A shy waitress, Amélie Poulian herself, quits her job once she finds a hidden box of a child’s treasures in her apartment. She decides to track down the owner, and uncovers friendship, compassion, secrets, and love on her journey.
5. Como Agua Para Chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate)
“Como Agua Para Chocolate” (“Like Water for Chocolate”) is another film shown in my Spanish class. It is about a girl named Tita who falls in love with a boy named Pedro. But when Tita’s mother, Elena, decides that Pedro will marry Tita’s sister, Rosaura, and Tita is left to fulfill her role as a younger daughter by taking care of Elena until she dies. This movie – filled with action, heartbreak, betrayal, affairs, and love – is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jolie Blair is a rising senior at Emory University from Sun Valley, Idaho. She is double majoring in Theater Studies and Public Health and has a passion for the arts, writing, and traveling. She studied abroad for the 2016 fall semester in Rome, Italy and had an experience of a lifetime, which she loves to share with those who want to listen (and even those who don’t like her 140lb Great Dane!).