Five foreign features still offer insights

From 1878 when the first film of a race horse was taken to now, movies have certainly had one of the largest impacts on culture to date. Being possibly the most expressive art form, many people have done incredible things with it. 

Within that, people across the entire world have taken it in unexpected and glorious directions. Much of the public enjoy movies as an escape, so having to read subtitles scares them, but these are films that need to be watched by everyone. We need to move past the language barrier and see them for what they truly are: art. These are five films that can start us on our path to discovery.

Metropolis:

Being the first sci-fi film ever made sounds like it is doomed to be much like the monster films of the ’50s, but that is very wrong. Fritz Lang directed this beautiful German film in 1927, the story of what appears to be a utopian society where everyone is constantly happy and has everything he or she desires, before it is revealed that the only way this life can be maintained is through the lower classes, now slaves, being forced to operate all of the machines that power the city all day, hidden from the sight of the citizens. With incredible visuals that shockingly can still amaze us today, Metropolis has become a cultural landmark that needs to be played over and over again.

Breathless:

Made in 1960, this film added to what was called the French New Wave movement, focussing on current issues such as isolationism and typically being self aware, experimenting with film form. This movie is credited with pioneering the jump cut, as each scene constantly cuts to the same shot for seemingly no reason. This came from the studio telling the director, Jean-Luc Godard, that his movie was 30 minutes too long. Instead of cutting out any scenes, he just simply cut out the parts in between people talking, making it feel even more rough and personal. It is about a low time thug obsessed with American culture who goes back to France so he can get some money he’s owed and to pick up an American girl he met, named Patricia. After killing a cop when his fantasies of being a powerful gangster go too far, he now has to hide from the authority with Patricia continually being indecisive with how she views him. A film that perfectly captures the feelings of people lost in their own (or other’s) culture, it is not something you want to miss.

Persona: 

The masterpiece of Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, this film is absolutely mind bending. About an actress who refuses to speak and a nurse who is taking care of her, from the very beginning you know you are in for quite the journey. With the two of them looking more and more similar, the amount of tricks this film plays on its audience (at one point they actually show the cameramen filming the movie) will leave people deciphering it for ages. If you want your reality questioned, this is the film for you.

El Topo:

Directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky in 1970, made in Mexico and called an acid western, this film is about as drastically different from typical westerns as you could get. Having the first half represent the Old Testament while the second half represents the New, the black-clad figure called The Mole claims that he is God as he seeks out different gun-wielders, each representing a different religion or philosophy, to kill through methods of cheating. A favorite of John Lennon, the imagery is so deeply symbolic that it will never truly drift from your brain. From carrying an umbrella in broad daylight to having a cult pass around a gun loaded with blanks, never has such a chaotic yet controlled film made it onto the big screen. This is a film of chaos for sporadic minds, and if that fits you, you are doing yourself a disservice by not watching this immediately.

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie:  

Taking place in dreams within dreams, this Luis Buñuel French film from 1972 is the embodiment of surrealism. Being a movie that is all about pointing out how ridiculous the upper class is, it centers around six rich and snooty people, a few being politicians, as they constantly try to have a meal together, but are stopped by some bizarre event right before they can eat. From discovering the restaurant they’re in has a funeral of sorts going on in the back to realizing they’re on a play set with plastic food, the possibilities of what will happen next are endless. Cut off from how our reality truly is, but still having eerie similarities we would rather not talk about, it is a terrific and funny satire. If you are interested in the dreams of others, or just want to watch a bunch of snooty people be made fun of, please watch this film.

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