Tuesday, August 2, 2011

An Odd Question

Do you ever watch foreign movies with English subtitles?

I do. I find that they satisfy a craving for a completely different viewpoint on life and society than my normal viewing habits. I am especially fond of Swedish and French films for their rather odd (to an American) point of view.

Understand that I don't speak or understand a word of Swedish, so the subtitles have to carry the movie for me. Likewise my French is pretty poor, so unless the on-screen action involves speaking to the class idiot, I have to depend on the subtitles. It is always amazing to me how much of the emotional tone one can deduce just from hearing the voice inflections of the actors, even when you don't understand a word they are saying! I suspect that the similar inflection structure of French and Swedish to English is the reason I like those films and cannot stand, for example, German subtitled films.

It is also interesting to me that my preference for type of film varies by nationality. I like Swedish detective mysteries and social movies while I like French humor and farce. I tend to like the humor in French movies featuring Audrey Tautou, whereas I really don't have a favorite actor or actress in Swedish films.

So with all my oddities in mind, here are a few foreign films that I highly recommend, subtitles and all:

Un Long Dimanche de Fiancailles (A Very Long Engagement)

Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain (Amelie)

Så som i himmelen (As It Is In Heaven)

So do you watch foreign films? If you do, what are some of your favorites?


  1. I find it a bit challenging to watch movies with subtitles. I end up reading most of the movie and I miss actually watching the video portion. The flip side is that I would've missed some excellent movies or films if I hadn't read subtitles.

  2. Clearly you are using that Netflix subscription!

    I like foreign films as well; I feel that it helps you to understand different points of view. Haven't been viewing a lot of them recently though; too much hassle in our back-water of a town.

  3. I agree w/ Audrey in that I feel that I miss so much of the movie while reading the subtitles. It feels like 'work' to me.

    But I love books that have been translated from their original language and are set in foreign locations. I feel I get that different perspective that way, and as long as the translation is done well, I don't have to work any harder at it. :)

  4. Used to go to the movies every Tuesday (half price) but haven't gone much now back at work. Some foreign films are gems and well worth the effort of subtitles. They deal with real issues and not just how a superhero defeated the Nazis.

  5. I love foreign films too and not just because I live in a foreign country :)

    Back when I was attending the university in California, we had this small Edward's Cinema across the street from all the student housing that would show mostly foreign and independent films. I found a lot of the films there much more interesting than the then current popular films. Reading subtitles tend to make my eyes tired but I found myself buy the movies when they came out on DVD and watching them again until I knew the words by heart and could enjoy the movie without reading them.

    Of the three movies you listed, I've watched Amelie and actually own it on dvd too :)


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