Friday, February 17, 2012

The 10 best European Films of all time

Bibi Andersson in "Wild Strawberries"
Ok, so that’s not exactly what this post is about … I’ve been thinking about the best way to introduce our assistant editor, Logan, to the world of foreign film.  These will not necessarily be among the films on the all-time greats lists. Rather, I’m thinking of films that are accessible (or fairly so) and won’t make him vow to never watch a subtitled film again. 

Yes, I know this is a bit early since he’s not even two years old but I don’t want him to think the Chipmunks Squeakquel and later, Mission Impossible 23 are the best film has to offer. Though he won’t view any of these films for awhile here’s my (current) list of the top 10 European films for him to watch before he’s 15 (or maybe 17). These are not in any particular order but I’ll start (as it always does here) with Bergman:
1.       Wild Strawberries by Ingmar Bergman: Perhaps, like his father, he’ll fall in love with Bibi Andersson (or Ingrid Thulin) while watching this movie … one of Bergman’s best and most enjoyable films.
2.       Wings of Desire by Wim Wenders: This can be a slow film (his mother has yet to remain awake through it ... but don't tell her I said that!), it requires concentration but it’s beautifully made and acted.
3.       Amelie by Jean-Pierre Jeunet: Perhaps, like his father, Logan will fall in love with Audrey Tautou while watching this movie … feels like I already wrote that. A fun little love story.
4.       Cinema Paradiso by Giuseppe Tornatore: My little Italian son already reminds me of young Toto and this movie is a great tribute to the magic of the cinematic experience. And it will help him learn to speak Italian.
5.       The Artist by Michel Hazanavicius: No subtitles so maybe this doesn’t count … but another great film about the joys of cinema.
6.       Trois Couleurs by Krzysztof Kieslowski: Ok, I’m cheating a bit here with three films but I really can’t pick just one, though Blue and Red are by far the best of the trilogy.
7.       The 400 Blows by Francois Truffaut: I considered The Man Who Loved Women (see numbers 1 & 3 above) but decided Truffaut’s debut was the best introduction to his work … and I can already see that Logan is a bit of a mischief maker so he’ll enjoy Antoine Doinel (and the subsequent films).
Toto in "Cinema Paradiso"
8.       La Dolce Vita by Federico Fellini: A beautiful city, beautiful women, great music, and the ever-cool Marcello Mastroianni. If Logan wants to model himself after an Italian actor he couldn’t do any better than Marcello.
Marcello Mastroianni
9.       Breathless by Jean-Luc Godard: Cool, with Jean-Paul Belmondo and the lovely Jean Seberg--one of the seminal films of the French New Wave and I definitely prefer the Godard of the 60s.
10.  Let the Right One In by Tomas Alfredson: he's gotta love a good vampire flick, no?  
I would have loved to get a Tarkovsky film on this list but if it's true that attention spans have now decreased to 5 seconds, I think it’s probably best to move through some of these films first. Of course, we have a few years before Logan will be ready to watch the films on this list and there just might be some new ones to add by that time.
What films did I miss? What would you recommend?


AB said...

Tetsuya Nakashima's 'Confessions' , Michael Haneke's ''Benny's Video', Menzel's 'I Served the King of England', Jacques Tati's 'Monsieur Hulot's Holiday', Rohmer's 'Clare's Knee'! Ceylan's 'Uzak' and, Tarkovsky comments notwithstanding, you've got to include 'Stalker'.

Dwayne D. Hayes said...

Thanks for the good suggestions ... and I agree with you on "Stalker"!

Joseph Palmisano said...

Sort of throwing Logan into the deep end of the pool with those picks, Dwayne!

Let your boy just get his feet wet with the classic fantasy film Red Balloon. It's short and includes a bit of French narration at the end.