14 Apr 2014

Languages in film

One of the best ways to keep up with your language skills and learn to speak like the locals is to watch foreign films or TV series, it's also a great way to get a taste of different cities.

It may at first seem like a school teacher method, used to pass an hour with rowdy students however it is in fact very beneficial to your language skills. You get to hear different accents and, if watching with subtitles, you can see the word written and hear the pronunciation. It is also a great way to pick up new vocabulary that is commonly used by natives.

Here are a few of our suggestions to get you started:


Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain

A quirky depiction of Parisian life, set in Montmartre. The story follows the shy Amélie (Audrey Tautou) in her quest to help those around her. 

Released in 2001, it is still the highest grossing French-language film in the US

Les Revenants

Originally a Canal+ creation, Britain's Channel 4 showed this series under the title The Returned. The 'British' version is (thankfully) subtitled and not dubbed. 

It is a supernatural series based on the French film Les Revenants (They came back). It is zombie-esque in that various people start coming back to life after having passed away. The series follows the events that ensue their 'coming back'. 

Other note-worthy works include:
  • Tunnel (The Tunnel) - An Anglo/French crime series that is the joint project of Sky and Canal+. It is a bilingual series with a British and French production crew. 
  • Caché (Hidden) - A great thriller by Michael Haneke that analyses class divides in Paris, and France as a whole. 
  • La Haine (Hate) - Another hugely successful French-language film by Mathieu Kassovitz that follows the lives of three youths from a Parisian suburb. 


Abre los ojos 

Abre los ojos (Open your eyes) is the 1997, Spanish original of the US remake Vanilla Sky. 

The film draws parallels to Caldéron's La vida es sueño, as it plays with dream and reality, drawing the viewer in to César's torment. 

Penelope Cruz can be seen as Sofía in both Abre los ojos and Vanilla Sky. 

El Laberinto del fauno

Otherwise known as Pan's Labyrinth, it is perhaps one of the most famous Spanish Language films. It has won various international prizes, including a BAFTA for the 'Best film not in the English language'.  

From Guillermo del Toro, the film is set in Spain 1944. It follows Ophelia (Ivana Baquero) and intertwines the real world with a mythical one, centred on an abandoned, overgrown labyrinth where Ophelia interacts with the mythical faun creature. 

Other note-worthy works include:
  • Evita - Alan Parker's portrayal of Eva Péron
  • Diarios de motocicleta - The motorcycle diaries is a biopic about the journey and written memoir of a young Ernesto Guevara. 
  • Los misterios de Laura - A comedy, crime series on TVE, not dissimilar from the Agatha Christie novels.  


Lola rennt 

Run Lola Run is the 1998 film written by Tom Tykwer, starring Franka Potente as Lola. The general storyline is that Lola has 20 minutes to find 100,00 Deutsche Mark and save her boyfriend's life. 

Tykwer makes it slightly more complex than this by portraying 3 'runs' in which different scenarios occur depending on Lola's actions, similar to Sliding Doors. 

Lola rennt won 26 international film awards, including the BAFTA for the Best film not in the English language

Good Bye, Lenin! 

Wolfgang Becker's Good Bye, Lenin! was released in 2003. The majority of the film is set in East Berlin from October 1989 up until German Reunification a year later. 

The story follows a young man's attempt to protect his fragile mother from a fatal shock after a long coma. He must keep her from learning that her beloved nation of East Germany as she knew it has disappeared. 

Good Bye, Lenin! has won numerous international film prizes, including the César award for Best film from the European Union

Other note-worthy works include:
  • Rush (2013) - a British-German biographical sports drama about the rivalry between F1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda.
  • Das Leben der Anderen (The lives of others)- Set in 1984, East Berlin. A secret police agent surveys his lover and a writer. 
  • Der Untergang (Downfall) - Traudl Junge tells of Hitler's final days in his bunker in Berlin at the end of WWII. 

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