Why Foreign Cinema can be Better than Hollywood

With the awards season being a distant memory and a summer of blockbusters lying ahead of us, (not to mention that we’re finally we’re going to find out what’s happened to all of those fallen Avengers) it can be easy to forget about all those smaller budget films that are released throughout the year across the world.

Arguably, this is partially due to UK chain cinemas being selective about their releases but with easily accessible and majorly popular streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Now TV, there’s no excuse to not give independent and foreign cinema a go!

As well as supporting more low budget filmmakers, I implore you to give foreign cinema a try if you haven’t already. Here’s why

By Lauren Haslett


Different cultures, different perspectives

Even though we may live in different parts of the world, we all go through similar situations at one time or another. Whether it be puberty, a broken heart, a financial crisis or even something like a marriage proposal. What’s great about foreign cinema, is that it not only highlights how, as human beings, we hit similar milestones in life, but it demonstrates the different ways people cope or see these events and arguably, a lot of the time, these reactions can be influenced by where people live.

Take zombie movies for example. A Hollywood zombie film is typically full of action with an end of the world narrative where the end goal is to destroy as many zombies as possible and reach the military safe zone. All the while, people are running around like crazy, looting shops, destroying public property and all out taking advantage of a bad situation! What I’ve found with foreign zombie films is that the narratives are a lot more people and relationship focussed. Two really great examples of this are: the French flick Les Affamés (catch it on Netflix) and the Korean movie Train to Busan (rent it on Youtube for £2.49). The former is slow burning, tension heavy story set in an almost silent French wilderness where stealth and tactics are key to survival. The latter is hectic train journey from one Korean city to the next where, as a viewer, you become so heavily invested in each and  every one of the characters (even that annoying train conductor!).

Seeing someone else’s norm

Being a film obsessive, I’ve grown to really appreciate of all the smaller details of the film making process, one of which being mise-en-scene; the decor of rooms, the lighting, the props, the costume. Sure, all of these elements are really important in any film you watch, as usually they serve as clues to a characters personality or they might even foreshadow an event to come! But in foreign cinema, they mean so much more. They are a portal into the lives of people who live hundreds of miles away from us! We get to see how the day to lives of others are so different to our own based on what their homes are like. Kitchens might be littered with chopsticks, or bedrooms might be clouded with mosquito nets or living rooms might even be outside! To get what I mean, try giving In The Mood For Love a watch (a Japanese love affair), where you will see how a person’s daily routine is completely different from your own.

Different stories

So you know that comedy where the girl works really hard to get the guy, gets the guy and realises she should be with her best friend all along? Well, from my experience, you don’t really get that from foreign cinema, it seems to be reserved for Hollywood; which actually is a really good thing! There is a whole multitude of foreign film makers who work really hard to craft and deliver stories that mean something to them, or tell a story from a different perspective or even perhaps with a really surprising outcome. For some subtly whacky plot lines, I recommend visiting Pedro Almodovar’s collection of weird and wonderful Spanish stories; particularly: Talk to Her, All About My Mother and Live Flesh. All of which explore out of the box themes such as: the Florence Nightingale effect, the loss of a child, and life after paralysis.

Ultimately, expanding your horizons by dipping in and out of foreign films, can expose you to so much more than the Hollywood machine and who knows, you might even learn a thing or two along the way.

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