Yes, American films are wonderful — some of the best movies are American in origin. I like them as much as my fellow citizens. However, there is something about a well-done foreign film, or better titled: a non-American film, that captures and holds my attention unlike most good American films. I find these non-Americans films unique and unforgettable in ways unlike their American counterparts.
In the past few years, many of the films I’ve watched have been directed, produced, and played by non-Americans. In this time, I’ve become more and more engrossed with foreign films and the mindset of those behind them. In my quest to understand why I’ve become a lover of all things foreign movie, I’ve discovered a few possible reasons why they are so remarkable to me, and why they could be to other Americans who haven’t paid as much attention to foreign films. Unfortunately, some non-American films are hard to find or poorly subtitled or dubbed, but if and when you do find a polished foreign film, you’ll be glad you did:
1. Surprising Plots
Watching so many domestic films, plots can become boring and begin to repeat themselves. This is because narratives are often strongly influenced by a person’s culture, experiences, and the world around them. By no fault of their own, American authors, screenwriters, and editors can end up arriving at stories that only differ from each other slightly. As diverse as Americans are, each American has the American experience and influence which informs the way they approach a film.
In contrast, foreign films can be surprising in their plots, even if the changes are subtle. Many times the change is drastic, if the culture and experiences of the scriptwriter differs greatly from that of an American. Sometimes the plot details values or lessons taught in a specific culture. Production elements and casting are unexpected, but add up to add a final touch to the film that make it its own.
2. Gritty Reality
Non-American films tend to showcase a life and culture that is more bold and less politically correct than American films. Things that American filmmakers would hesitate to include or water down are showcased with no apologies in foreign films. The taboo, abnormal, or simply harsh realities of life are presented, to much effect. In one popular foreign film, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, rape, abuse, and alternative sexuality are exposed in ways that might be considered disturbing and ill-advised in an American film.
If a non-American film provides nothing else, it gives a look into the culture, thinking, and behavior of people outside of the United States. Foreign films give you a way to travel throughout the globe without physically leaving the country. Accents, clothing, behavior, food, even acting, illustrate the culture being presented in the film. Even for a well-traveled person, a film can touch on aspects of culture not known to outsiders. For this reason alone, it would be great for Americans to find a space in their movie collections for foreign films.
What do you (Americans and non-Americans) think of foreign films? Do you have any film suggestions or favorites?