What are the best foreign (non-English OSL) films?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Steve O, Jul 23, 2002.

  1. Steve O

    Steve O Stunt Coordinator

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    After having been sheltered by Hollywood for the past 34 years, I've suddenly discovered foreign films and a whole new world has opened up. So far, I have seven in my DVD collection and they're among my favorite movies. I've realized that foreign films generally tend to focus more on character development and storyline than most American-made films. So far, I haven't been disappointed!
    Does anyone have any suggestions? More specifically --
    What is the single best film in each Original Spoken Language (OSL), what makes it great, and is it available (or announced) on DVD?
    I checked out the "Foreign Film Preorder List" thread, but it's a huge thread that is more targeted toward what is coming to DVD -- rather than what are the best foreign films coming to DVD.
    Thanks for your help!
    =================================
    Here's a simple format to use:
    OSL:
    Title:
    I love this film because:
    DVD availability:
     
  2. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    Well, you're not asking for much! [​IMG] Ask which film in a given language is the "best" in that language and you're apt to get a hundred different answers!
    I'll throw out a few, though:
    OSL: German
    Title: Aguirre: The Wrath of God
    I love this film because: I enjoy the themes that the director, Werner Herzog, explores. Also, he is noted for the stunning imagery - mostly landscapes - in his films.
    DVD availability: Yes (Anchor Bay)
    OSL: Japanese
    Title: Seven Samurai
    I love this film because: It is an exquisitely-crafted and exciting epic that never loses sight of its characters. One of THE great films.
    DVD availability: Yes (Criterion)
    OSL: Italian
    Title: The Bicycle Thief
    I love this film because: The standard for Neo-realism in movies, it's the story of a man trying to support his wife and son in post-WWII Italy.
    DVD availability: Yes (Image)
     
  3. Jefferson

    Jefferson Supporting Actor

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    I thank my friend Rain for suggesting this one:
    OSL: French
    Title: Children of Paradise
    I Like this movie because: it is perfect. [​IMG]
    Brilliant combination of story, style, direction and acting....
    Availablility: Anyplace that has Criterion stuff.
     
  4. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

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    OSL: French
    Title: Belle De Jour
    Why I Love: Powerful story of a woman asserting her sexual and spiritual independence, fueld by the fantastic imagery of Luis Bunuel.
    DVD: Yes (Buena Vista, poor quality)

    OSL: German
    Title: The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant
    Why I Love: Love can be beautiful, but when you love you let down your defenses which can allow others to crush you. The perfect illustration of Fassbinder's philosophy that the person who loves the most has the least power. Also shows the willingness and ease with which we can both inflict and endure pain.
    DVD: No (but rumored to be out this Winter from Wellspring)

    OSL: Japanese
    Title: Ikiru
    Why I Love: A simple, beautiful film about the tragedy of the unlived life, the regret that nearly all of us carry for the mistakes we make and yet, it is never to late to change and make amends, even if in a small way.
    DVD: No (unless you count cheapo LD port from Hong Kong)

    OSL: Swedish
    Title: The Seventh Seal
    Why I Love: It is about life's journey through faith - searching, finding, having, losing - the shape of faith and belief in extremely troubled times.
    DVD: Yes (Criterion)
     
  5. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    OSL: German

    Das Boot

    OSL: French

    Diabolique

    OSL: Italian

    8 1/2

    OSL: Japanese

    The Seven Samurai
     
  6. Rain

    Rain Producer

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    French: Children of Paradise. Simple, but elegant. Beautifully performed and photographed. A one of a kind film that will stay with you forever. Often called "The French Gone With the Wind," but I think it's even better. Criterion DVD.
    Swedish: The Seventh Seal. I suppose different people will view this film differently depending on their perspective. But what Brook said sums it up. Criterion DVD.
    German: Fox and His Friends. Ideally, I'd recommend Berlin Alexanderplatz, but you'll probably never find it. This one is also very good, though a bit dark and pessimistic. It's about peoples' tendecies to take advantage of someone else to serve their own purposes. WellSpring DVD.
    Japanese: Seven Samurai. Can't go wrong with the Samurai. There's little point in saying more about this film, as it's alreay oft discussed. Every positive thing you've heard is true! Criterion DVD.
    Russian: Come and See. A harrowing look at war through the eyes of a young boy. Riveting, often painful but very worthwhile. Kino (Ruscico) DVD (alas the DVD has some problems including painfully slow menus and one line of the English dubbed dialogue on the Russian soundtrack!)
     
  7. MichaelAW

    MichaelAW Second Unit

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    French/Polish: Kieslowski's Three Colors Trilogy (Blue, White, and Red). All three films are in French, but a good portion of White is in Polish. It's out on DVD in R2 now, and will (hopefully) be out in R1 later this year, Miramax pending.
     
  8. Thomas T

    Thomas T Cinematographer

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    Excellent foreign language films all currently available on DVD.
    Brazil: Black Orpheus
    China: Flowers Of Shanghai
    Denmark: Babette's Feast
    France: Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie
    Germany: M
    Greece: Electra
    India: Lagaan
    Italy: Rocco And His Brothers
    Japan: High And Low
    Netherlands: The Fourth Man
    Spain: All About My Mother
    Sweden: Cries And Whispers
     
  9. Mark_vdH

    Mark_vdH Screenwriter

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    I second most of the classic choices so far, but there are also some newer, great foreign movies:

    -Run Lola Run (Germany)
    -Y Tu Mamá Bien/And Your Mother Too (Mexico) (Not on DVD yet)
    -Amores Perros/Love is a Bitch (Mexico)
    -Abre Los Ojos/Open Your Eyes (Spain)

    to name just a few.
     
  10. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    of the asian persuasion:
    raise the red lantern
    eat drink man woman
    the wedding banquet
    shall we dance
    that's the way i like it
    tampopo
    king of masks
    pushing hands
    shower
    btw - you should be able to find all these movies being listed on www.imdb.com - a great resource for movie info.
     
  11. Roberto Carlo

    Roberto Carlo Second Unit

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    Don't forget "Mujeres Al Borde De Un Ataque de Nervios/Women on the Verge of A Nervous Breakdown," and "Atame/Tie Me Up,Tie me Down" by the director of "All About My Mother," Pedro Almodovar. Both are available on DVD.

    Speaking of things Spanish, there's "Cet obscur objet du désir/That Obscure Object of desire" by Luis Bunuel. Also available on DVD.

    And if you really want to go out there, there's "Un Chien Andalou/Andalusian Dog" by Bunuel and Salvador Dali. Not available on DVD. Hopefully soon the Criterion Collection will package these 15 minutes with a bunch of great supplements.
     
  12. Steve O

    Steve O Stunt Coordinator

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    Wow -- what a great response after only a few hours! Thanks a lot for the feedback. I'm definitely going to follow up on a number of these titles.
    Even though my foreign film collection is rather small right now (7), there are a few that I believe have to be among the best in their language category. They are:
    OSL: Czech
    Title: Dark Blue World
    I love this film because: It is the best World War II aviation movie I've ever seen and ranks in my top five favorite movies of all time. I like it even better than the excellent "Kolya" (by the same director). This is a great story with stunning cinematography and acting that I'll watch again and again.
    DVD availability: Available now (Sony Pictures Classics)
    OSL: French
    Title: Amelie
    I love this film because: Funny, smartly written, and you can't help falling in love with her character.
    DVD availability: Available now (Mirimax)
    OSL: German
    Title: Das Boot
    I love this film because: It is the definitive submarine movie. It draws you in and keeps you rivited until the end.
    DVD availability: Available now (Columbia/Tristar)
    OSL: Serbo-Croatian
    Title: No Man's Land
    I love this film because: An expertly written, acted, and directed drama set in an often overlooked conflict. Even my mother-in-law (who never watched a foreign film in her life) thought it was an amazing film.
    DVD availability: Available now (MGM)
     
  13. Jeff Adkins

    Jeff Adkins Screenwriter

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    Real Name:
    Jeff Adkins
    OSL: Hindi

    Title: Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam

    I love this film because: Goregous sets, wonderful music, great story, wonderful acting

    DVD availability: Available anywhere that Indian DVDs are sold (indiaweekly.com, nehaflix.com, etc).
     
  14. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    Picking just one film from each language is impossible, there is too much to chose from!
    Here are a couple off the top of my head:
    OSL: French
    Title: Jean de Florette/Manon des Sources
    These two need to be seen together, but present a sprawling epic of greed an irony.
    Availability: a crappy MGM release on DVD[​IMG]
    OSL: French
    Title: Mon Oncle
    Classic Jacques Tati film.
    Availability: awesome Criterion release
     
  15. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Steve O:

     
  16. Roberto Carlo

    Roberto Carlo Second Unit

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    I forgot "Como Agua Para Chocolate/Like Water For Chocolate."
     
  17. Roderick Gauci

    Roderick Gauci Stunt Coordinator

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    My top 50 suggestions out of the Foreign-Language DVDs I have are:

    1913-14 FANTOMAS (R2) (French, Silent)

    1915-16LES VAMPIRES (French, Silent)

    1921 EL DORADO (R2) (French, Silent)

    1921 THE INDIAN TOMB (German, Silent)

    1922DR. MABUSE, THE GAMBLER [2-Disc Set] (German, Silent)

    1922HAXAN (Swedish, Silent)

    1924 THE LAST LAUGH (German, Silent)

    1926 THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED (R2) (German, Silent)

    1926 FAUST (German, Silent)

    1928THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER (French, Silent)

    1928THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC (French, Silent)

    1930/1949/1959ORPHIC TRILOGY - THE BLOOD OF A POET/ORPHEUS/ TESTAMENT OF ORPHEUS [3-Disc Set] (French)

    1930THE BLUE ANGEL [2-Disc Set] (German)

    1931LE MILLION (French)

    1932/1950 TERRE SANS PAIN/LOS OLVIDADOS (R2) (Spanish/Mexican)

    1937GRAND ILLUSION (French)

    1938/1943-46EISENSTEIN: THE SOUND YEARS - ALEXANDER NEVSKY/IVAN THE TERRIBLE PARTS I & II [3-Disc Set] (Russian)

    1943/1955/1964/1995CARL TH. DREYER BOX SET - DAY OF WRATH/ ORDET/GERTRUD/CARL TH. DREYER – MY METIER [4-Disc Set] (Danish)

    1952/1955 EL/LA VIE CRIMINELLE D'ARCHIBALDO DE LA CRUZ (R2) (Mexican)

    1953 WAGES OF FEAR (French)

    1954 DIABOLIQUE (French)

    1954SEVEN SAMURAI (Japanese)

    1957THE SEVENTH SEAL (Swedish)

    1960BLACK SUNDAY (Italian but Dubbed in English)

    1960THE THOUSAND EYES OF DR. MABUSE (German)

    19638 1/2 [2-Disc Set] (Italian)

    1963THE WHIP AND THE BODY (Italian)

    1964BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (Italian)

    1964DIARY OF A CHAMBERMAID (French)

    1965RED BEARD (Japanese)

    1965THE SARAGOSSA MANUSCRIPT (Polish)

    1966ANDREI RUBLEV [The Director's Cut] (Russian)

    1967BELLE DE JOUR (French)

    1967VIY, OR SPIRIT OF EVIL (Russian)

    1972/1979/1979/1982/1988/1999THE HERZOG/KINSKI COLLECTION - AGUIRRE, WRATH OF GOD/NOSFERATU, PHANTOM DER NACHT/WOYZECK/ FITZCARRALDO/COBRA VERDE/KINSKI, MY BEST FIEND [6-Disc Set] (German)

    1972CRIES AND WHISPERS (Swedish)

    1972THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE [2-Disc Set] (French)

    1976SUSPIRIA [3-Disc Set] (Italian)

    1977THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE (French)

    There are a lot more I still have to buy, but the above-mentioned films are certainly a good start for anyone who's still new at this thing!
     
  18. Rain

    Rain Producer

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    I'll throw down another one for Italy: The Garden of the Finzi-Continis. It's out on DVD, but I can't remember which studio off the top of my head.
     
  19. Tim RH

    Tim RH Second Unit

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    OSL: Cantonese
    Title: CHUNGKING EXPRESS (1994)
    I love this film because: Great energy, likable characters.
    DVD availability: Yes (Miramax), also look for IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE (2001, by the same director, available from The Criterion Collection)

    OSL: Mandarin
    Title: TO LIVE! (1994)
    I love this film because: Gong Li is brilliant, very moving.
    DVD availability: I think so?, if you can't find it, go for CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON (2000, Sony Pictures Classics)

    OSL: Japanese
    Title: RASHOMON (1950)
    I love this film because: Actually "Seven Samurai" is more enjoyable, but most people here have already chosen it, even though "Rashomon" is a vital piece of film history that should be seen at least a couple times.
    DVD availability: Yes (Criterion)
    Also recommended: PRINCESS MONONOKE (Animation, 1997, Miramax)

    OSL: French
    Title: AMELIE (2001)
    I love this film because: Great cinematography, editing and acting. And it's funny too!
    DVD availability: Yes (Miramax)

    OSL: German
    Titles: DAS BOOT (1981) or METROPOLIS (1927, silent) or RUN LOLA RUN (1998)
    I love these films because: "Das Boot" (The Director's Cut) is one of the best war films ever made, IMHO. "Metropolis" is one of the best science fiction films ever made; and "Run Lola Run" is in a class by itself.
    DVD availability: Yes, yes & yes. (Columbia, Kino [restoration available next year], Columbia)

    OSL: Swedish
    Title: WILD STRAWBERRIES (1957)
    I love this film because: It's poetry on film. And the women are beautiful too.
    DVD availability: Yes (Criterion)

    OSL: Italian
    Title: CINEMA PARADISO (1989)
    I love this film because: It's my favorite foreign film!
    DVD availability: You might want to wait for the eventual Director's Cut from Miramax.
     
  20. Steve O

    Steve O Stunt Coordinator

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    Wow! Thanks so much for the great feedback -- this forum rocks!! It's always interesting to know why people love the movies they love, since moviegoers are moved by many different things. A few small words usually helps me a lot to know whether I'll like it too. I've bought a number of DVDs sight-unseen based on this type of feedback and very rarely have regretted it. The thought put into these selections is VERY appreciated! I know how difficult it must be to select a single favorite in each OSL.
    Thanks again!! [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    (P.S. Please keep the selections coming, as I'm compiling them into my "foreign films to buy or rent" list!)
     

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