Experiencing other cultures is key to understanding your fellow earthlings, and an affordable and entertaining way to travel the world is through the movies. Many Americans find themselves in a movie-watching vortex that only includes American productions, and it’s time to branch out and see the world. Here is a list of foreign films that are sure to entertain you while deepening your understanding of other peoples.
1. “Amelie” (Romantic Comedy)
An old fashioned but perfect way to see the sights of France while living through the eyes of eccentric Amélie Poulain, a cheerful waitress who bounces in and out of the romantic lives of her restaurant’s patrons. Amélie is sure to enchant viewers as she finds pleasure in life’s humble experiences. The film had a rocky release but quickly gained popularity and even made the New York Times “1,000 Greatest Movies Ever Made” list. The charm and eccentricity of Amélie will seduce all spectators looking for a pleasant watch.
2. “Parasite” (Horror)
“Parasite” became the surprise Best Picture winner at the 92nd Academy Awards, and the Korean horror film is still hugely popular today. The low-income Kim family pose as self-employed to gain access to the mega-rich Park family’s home so they can live in luxury in their empty home. Crazy goes on a rampage when caught and threatened with exposure. This film contains dramatically bloody scenes (even for a horror film), but also delivers a message about social inequalities. It has become so popular that a spin-off series is now in the works. In the most capitalist response to the film, the city of Seoul even offers tours through impoverished filming sites where low-income residents still reside.
3. “Wild Tales” (Dark Comedy)
The countries of Spain and Argentina have combined to create this revenge-centric Spanish-language anthology film. There are six seemingly unrelated stories that weave a tale of revenge and catharsis as each “Wild Tale” unfolds with someone who ultimately exacts revenge on perceived wrongdoers. Viewers will know within the first 15 minutes or so (thanks to the opening “Pasternak” segment) if this movie is something they will enjoy. Some stories will amaze viewers, but others will give them a sense of schadenfreude watching the bad guys get what they deserve. Most of the time, revenge isn’t a reasonable response to feeling wronged, so the theme of catharsis is sure to resonate with the darker parts of human nature.
4. “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (Action/Martial Arts)
A novel from the 1940s has been adapted into this action film set in 19th century China during the Qing Dynasty. In 2000, the film stunned viewers with its action scenes and the film became one of the most decorated of awards season. Two warriors who together run a security company while having deep-rooted feelings for each other pursue Jade Fox, a murderer and thief. The film features many prominent female warrior roles that aren’t weighed down by gender stereotypes. The film was so popular in the West that a sequel was shot in English and dubbed into Chinese.
5. “Roma” (Drama)
This Mexican drama is another awards season darling that currently holds the record for most Oscar-nominated foreign film. Even though it lost best picture, the film grabbed headlines for paving the way for new avenues of world-class film distribution, as it was released by the Netflix movie streaming app at the instead of receiving a traditional theatrical release. The film centers on Cleo, an indigenous maid from Mexico’s capital. Cleo and her fellow housekeeper, Adela, switch between their native language of Mixtec when alone and Spanish when in the presence of their employers. Cleo ends up with an unplanned pregnancy, and ultimately the film is a winding drama through the character’s relationships. The dramatic ending will captivate viewers and leave them feeling like everything will be fine even when it’s not.
6. “The Tale of Princess Kaguya” (Anime)
There were many amazing Japanese anime movies to consider in this article and picking just one felt like a betrayal to all the other greats like “Spirited Away” and “My Neighbor Totoro”. Some films have gained more popularity than others, and “Princess Kaguya” is often overlooked in the Western world. This very expensive project brings fairy tales to the screen as it was based on the Japanese fairy tale “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter” and features a fast-growing princess found in bamboo. The film explores the role of women in society and tells the story of a princess from the Moon. It has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and features some of the most beautiful scenes found in anime, with simple, watercolor backgrounds to fully immerse viewers. The film even has its own documentary about its creation.
There are always hundreds of movies that are not included in the movie list articles and this article is no exception. Hope the movies listed will inspire readers to search for more foreign movies and immerse themselves in other cultures. In the absence of dialogue in colloquial language, viewers will find themselves immersed in deep art and cinema. This list of films is the perfect stepping stone to further immersion in foreign films, where unfamiliar themes will inspire viewers to engage with other cultures and might even trigger the travel bug.