As I mentioned in my previous post I am an avid film and TV geek. One of my favourite genre’s of film is foreign, I find it much more compelling and eye-opening to your typical English speaking, British/American film. The response I usually get is very similar when telling people this: ‘Subtitles seriously just take away from the film, how can you possibly stand them? What is the point in watching a movie that is not in English?’ To be completely honest I do understand the difficulty some people encounter when watching a film when it’s not in their native tongue, but in my opinion it does not make the movie or show any less magnificent and spectacular. A foreign film gives the audience a glimpse into different cultures, as well as a peek into a director’s mind which is most likely completely different to your own. So if you want to find out my favourite foreign films and shows, keep reading..
1 – Let the Right One In (2008 – Sweden)
This film is one of my favourite movies I have ever watched, not just within the foreign genre but movies in general. This Swedish romantic horror is directed by Thomas Alfredson and based on the 2004 novel of the same title by John Ajvide Lindqvist. The film focuses on Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), a sensitive, bullied 12-year-old boy living with his mother in suburban Sweden. When he meets his new neighbour, the mysterious and moody Eli (Lina Leandersson), they strike up a friendship. Initially reserved with each other, Oskar and Eli slowly form a close bond, but it soon becomes apparent that she is no ordinary young girl, she is in fact (spoiler alert) a vampire. Eventually, Eli shares this dark, macabre secret with Oskar, revealing her connection to a string of bloody local murders. The cinematography within this film is so beautiful and well thought out, one of my favourite things about this movie is the setting – not only is it ethereal, it is extremely normal, both Oskar and Eli seem to be living in council flats suggesting they are working class, Oskar also goes to a government-funded school and seems to walk everywhere, therefore the audience is always seeing the snowy, exquisite scenery of Sweden. The juxtaposition of this normality and Eli’s supernatural instincts is that of genius. This is a film I could watch wherever, whenever and I would recommend it to everyone (only if you’re not afraid of a little blood here and there).
2 – Pan’s Labyrinth (2006 – Spain)
I first watched this film with my mum when I was too young to really grasp the plot as well as have the attention span to sit and read subtitles for 2 hours. However when I was 14 myself and my schools dance team created a dance based on this film, so I then took it upon myself to give it another watch seen as the intriguing costumes which were made for the dance performance were so bizarre. When I watched the film again I was completely mesmerised, this film utterly captured my imagination. The film is set in Spain, 1944, when young Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) and her ailing mother (Ariadna Gil) arrive at the post of her mother’s new husband (Sergi López), a sadistic army officer who is trying to quell a guerrilla uprising. While exploring an ancient maze, Ofelia encounters the faun Pan, who tells her that she is a legendary lost princess and must complete three dangerous tasks in order to claim immortality. I am completely in love with the fairytale aspect of this movie, though tragic in some parts. In some odd way it taught me several life lessons, a major one being to not be as selfish as I used to be. This is because towards the end of the film (spoiler alert) Ofelia is told that she can enter the fairy realm and become a princess if she allows the faun to spill the blood of her newborn brother. She refuses, even with the knowledge that her bloodthirsty stepfather is pursuing her and choosing not to sacrifice her brother means her almost certain death. Indeed, she sacrifices herself for her brother. The film concludes with wondrous ambiguity. Ofelia both reassumes her throne in the fairy realm exactly because of her selflessness and, simultaneously, lies dying in the arms of her carer Mercedes. This dark fantasy owns, in my opinion, one of the most chilling yet comforting movie soundtracks ever, this is just one reasons why it will stay with me forever.
3 – The Chosen Ones (Las Elegidas) (2015 – Mexico)
The Chosen One’s touches on one of the most taboo subjects in Mexican history – sex trafficking. Though this is not a new topic in Mexico, this film shows the nightmare like scenario many young girls have to go through, which many films do not. This is one of my favourite things about foreign films, they seem to touch on extremely controversial subjects which you don’t see as often in American/English movies. The film focuses on two teenagers Ulysis (Oscars Torres) and Sofia (Nancy Talamantes) who are in a new relationship. It is revealed that Ulysis is being groomed by his family to entrap his young lovers into the prostitution ring that forms his family’s business. Having fallen for Sofia his first lover, Ulysis puts up an unsuccessful fight to prevent her from being exploited. His father agrees to let Sofia free only when Ulysis gets another young girl to replace her in the brothel. Thus he sets toward honeytrapping his extensive victim. This tragic love-story has some of the best acting I have ever seen in a film, towards the end I was in tears (i’m a softie), so if you aren’t up for a good cry, this one might not be for you!
4 – Skam (2015 – 2017 Norway)
Lastly my current obsession is Skam – A Norwegian teen drama TV series about the daily life of teenagers at the Hartvig Nissen School. If you haven’t heard of this one, where have you been!! Even though it’s only been around since 2015, Skam is one of the most adored programs in the nation’s history and has recently gone global. Every season of Skam follows a different student at Hartvig Nissen, a real public school in Oslo, where a few of the show’s main actors are actively enrolled. The first season focuses on Eva: a nervous, big-hearted 16-year-old who has just started high school. The second focuses on Noora (my favourite character): a headstrong feminist who strikes up an unlikely romance with an older, bad boy named William. The third focuses on Isak: a misunderstood teen, coming to terms with his sexuality. Lastly the fourth season which recently aired in the first few weeks of April revolves around Sana: a badass Muslim teen who always speaks her mind. The show covers subjects such as mental illness, homophobia, racism, sex and drugs, just to name a few and I feel this is one of the main reasons why it has become so popular. The realistic nature of Skam has made me fall in love with the characters and helps people of all ages understand what it is like to be a real life teenager in the modern world.
I really hoped you enjoyed reading about my favourite foreign films and tv shows. Let me know what you think if you get a chance to watch them, I love listening to other people’s opinions. Do you have a favourite foreign film?
♡ Olivia ♡