One of the more interesting ways to brush up on your foreign language skills is watching foreign films. Watching good films in a language you love is a great study aid alongside language training, and some of these films might inspire you to want to learn a new language.
So, grab the popcorn, get comfortable and enjoy this selection of films from around the world.
1. Hard Boiled – Hong Kong, Cantonese, 1992
We start off with a good old fashioned action film direct by John Woo. Chow Yun Fat tales the lead as the impressively named Inspector “”Tequila” Yuen and spends a lot of the films running time shooting things in a cinematic manner, against the standard story of a cop on the edge taking down a criminal syndicate.
2. City of God – Brazil, Portuguese, 2002
Sticking with the crime theme, City of God offers less style and more substance. City of God is based on a true story, and depicts the growth of organised crime in Rio De Janeiro through the end of the 60’s to the start of the 80’s. This unflinching movie is not an easy watch, but it’s rewarding, with fleshed out characters and a great story.
3. [Rec] – Spain, Spanish, 2007
It’s a horror movie, sure. But it’s one of the best horror films of the last decade, and possibly the best zombie flick I’ve ever seen. This is a found footage movie following a reporter and her cameraman as things go from bad to worse as she covers a story with the local fire department that takes her to a nearby apartment building at the start of a zombie outbreak.
4. Pans Labyrinth – Mexico, Spanish, 2006
Pans Labyrinth is best described as a fairytale. The film is set in Spain in 1944, 5 short years after the Spanish Civil War. It may not sound like your standard fairytale, but Pan’s Labyrinth is the darkest fairytale to reach the silver screen. Watching the young heroine interacting with a variety of fantasy characters is equal parts creepy and beautiful.
5. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – Sweden, Swedish, 2009
Sweden has a well-deserved history for incredible crime thrillers, and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo doesn’t let the reputation down. A journalist and computer hacker team up to investigate a forty year old mystery. This is the start of a trilogy, and fans would be well advised to look up “The Girl Who Played With Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest”.
6. Amelia – France, French, 2009
Amelia is a strange and whimsical affair, as the titular character stalks the streets of Paris to help the other lonely souls of Paris [and herself]. Sharp cinematography, a great performance A certain menace lurks behind Amelie’s surface and that’s part of what makes it so compelling.
7. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – China, Mandarin, 2000
Landing 4 oscars, Ang Lee’s martial arts epic is a tale of a stolen sword and a pair of lovers. This provides the background to some excellently choreographed fight scenes that really have to be seen to be believed, as the actors spiral through treetops with balletic grace.
8. Howls Moving Castle – Japan, Japanese, 2004
This animated film is a gem, an 18 year old hatter is cursed by a witch and turned into a 90 year old woman, before going on an adventure in the titles moving castle, This is an excellent fantasy children for people of all ages, and there’s an English dub for you to watch a few times before you brave the Japanese version as your confidence grows. Hauntingly brilliant.
9. Let The Right One In – Sweden, Swedish, 2008
Another horror, this time the Swedish vampire offering “Let the right one in”. This film tells the story of a bullied 12 year old boy in Stockholm, who befriends a vampire next door. The implications here are the most horrifying part, as a romance begins to form between the pair. This is a dark, thoughtful film.
10. Akira – Japan, Japanese, 1988
Thought cartoons were just for kids? Think again- Akira is a sci fi thriller set in Tokyo after the war. This centres around Kanada, the leader of a bike gang in Neo-Tokyo after a devastating World War 3. Giving away any more really would be spoiling it, but it’s an incredible film.Dubbed in English, but confident Japanese speakers will get a lot more out of the native language cut.