Foreign language films are cool too

By Katelyn Patterson | Reporter

Over the last two years, the discussion around the importance of foreign language films and television shows has shot up in popularity. Movies like “Parasite” and shows like Netflix’s “Squid Game” are partially responsible. But why do we care in the first place?

Movies are cultural devices. They are simultaneously influenced and influencers. They are universal and excellent tools to introduce audiences to the cultures from which they come. By immersing yourself in a foreign movie or show, you are able to learn about the different approaches to filmmaking, cuisine, customs and so much more.

American, and even English-based, movies can be repetitive and “cookie-cutter.” They seem to follow the same stories over and over again. Foreign films are imaginative and introduce you to a different world of cinema. Studio Ghibli, a Japanese animation film studio, is a testament to this. The studio has a long list of works that it has produced, and not one film is like another.

“Once you overcome the 1-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films,” Bong Joon-Ho, the director of “Parasite,” said after winning the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film in 2020. Most of the world consumes English and adapts to fit where Americans will not. The least we can do is make an effort to experience foreign language films.

These films often do not have the budget for the pyrotechnics and CGI that we are used to watching from Hollywood. Instead, they rely on visual language, unrefined emotion and excellent cinematography. The pictures that are portrayed — not necessarily the words alone — tell the story. Even the smallest details can be important, so watching these films teaches you to appreciate the cinematic differences from American movies.

Watching a movie and connecting with a character is not uncommon. When you do that while watching a foreign film, you are connecting with someone from a completely different culture.

“You share their deepest thoughts and feelings,” Vera Blasi, screenwriter for “Woman on Top” and member of The Academy, said. “It creates a sense of intimacy with humanity, with the rest of the world, which I think is so important today. We realize in that moment that there’s only one of ‘us’ here. We are them, they are us.”

Subtitles should be the reason you keep searching through Netflix for a movie to watch. Foreign films are beautiful, interesting and just plain cool.