Life Is Beautiful: My Top 10 Foreign Language Films

A quick glance through the top 100 films listed in the Halliwell’s Top 1000 Films of all time shows that 30 of them are foreign language films.
At the very start of his acclaimed series ‘A Story Of Film: An Odyssey’, Mark Cousins points us immediately away from Hollywood as a focus in favour of what has happened cinematically in Senegal, India and Japan.
I would half expect the younger generation to shy away from anything that is not English or American in origin, but there are more than a few adults I know for whom there is a whole untouched world of film experiences out there, through the language barrier.

For a more extensive list of all that is out there, try Marie O’Sullivan’s excellent cine365 blog

However, in no particular order then (and acting merely as a starting point), here are my top 10 foreign language films:

Amélie (2001)
Quirky and yet totally heart-warming and life-affirming.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Spectacular, mythical aerial duels that take the breath away.

Das Boot
Claustrophobic and atmospheric. The U-boat creaks with the pressure, as do our nerves.

Dekalog
A series of ten short films based (loosely) on the Ten Commandments. Genius.

Downfall
Hitler’s descent into madness as witnessed by those around him.

I’ve Loved You So Long
After all, who can resist Kristin Scott-Thomas?

Late Spring
Understated, yet such a keen portrayal of family interaction

Life is Beautiful
The transition from slapstick comedy to tragedy has never been so sensitively portrayed

Pan’s Labyrinth
Visually stunning, in places shocking. It has del Toro written all over it.

Three Colours Trilogy
A glorious set of three (totally different, yet interlinked) films from the master director Kieslowski (see Dekalog also)