Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Delicious Foreign Films

Watching foreign films, French films specifically, never feels like I am wasting time. When I am watching a film by an auteur director, such as Roehmer, Goddard, or Truffaut, I feel as though I am contributing to my education. What education you may ask? My film education of course. It's as if I am enrolled in grad school film classes and I have been assigned to watch these films. So, I'm doing my homework and it's homework that I love to do. Watching a good French film also makes me feel like I am ingesting healthy food.

Over the past weekend, I watched two movies that I had already seen, but that still had the power to leave an indelibly sweet impression on me. I watched a British film Enchanted April, and Claire's Knee by French director Eric Roehmer. What is it about these movies that touches me at the level of my soul? They definitely have a quality that is lacking in American films; they embody a certain simple elegance and tranquility that has a very soothing effect on my mind and emotions. There is an absence of music to tell you what you should be feeling, which I find quite nice. I love music, but there is something extraordinary about watching a movie where you can hear the sounds of nature, i.e. birds chirping in the background. Enchanted April was set in an Italian castle and a great deal of the film takes place outdoors in the springtime. The mountains and water play a predominant part in Claire's Knee. The visual beauty combined with the sounds of chirping birds creates an experience within me that sets everything right between me and the world.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, many foreign films try to follow in the footsteps of American cinema. When I watch a movie I want to be transported into the world of the characters, which includes having a somewhat authentic experience of the country they are in. However, when you have a foreign film that tries to mimic an American film you lose the quality of "otherness" of something different and unique to that country. What you get is an American film starring French or Italian actors speaking in their native tongue. I get to see American movies in America, so when I watch a French film I want it to feel authentically French, not like a rip off of what is done over here.

Let's close this post with some charming French music that I was recently introduced to; I think it's the beginning of a new love affair.


  1. Great Post! I really liked the song! Thanks for sharing! Xo

  2. I've watched Enchanted April many times over the years and it never gets old. Best feel good movie ever.

  3. I saw Enchanted April a zillion years ago. I remember at the time it felt too sweet to me. I wonder, with time, if I would be charmed by the sweetness. Even though the films haven't changed, I have changed and that changes how I see film. Worth re-seeing.