The Film Paper
Due no later than Wed. Nov. 12
The film paper should be a reaction paper of no less than 3 pages in length. As the syllabus states, it is for the purpose of getting you to see the world from the eyes of others. The paper should convince me that you actually watched the movie, but should not be a blow by blow description. Don’t just tell me the plot. I want your thoughts on the film not the plot. For example: Did you like it? Why? Did you not like it? Why? Did it cause you to view things in a different light? Why? What did it make you think about? Did it lead you to question some of your beliefs or did it confirm them? Why?
You need not try to analyze the film’s technical or artistic aspects though you may include such considerations if you wish.
There is a list of recommended films in Course Documents, but you are not restricted to these. However, if you wish to view a different one, you need to get approval from me first.
Foreign language films are available for free at the Wood County Public Library and can be rented from Video Spectrum. There are a few at Jerome Library in VHS format.
RECOMMENDED FOREIGN FILMS
Just a small sampling
Note: There are dubbed versions out there. Don’t get them. Get the versions that are subtitled in order to experience the actual acting of the original cast. Also, language and how it is delivered affects your understanding of and emotional response to the film.
For the novice: These films are in color; have standard, modern, U.S. production values; and have a more-or-less easy-to-follow narrative.
The Return of Martin Guerre (French. Based on true story. Young man goes away to war in 16th century France and then returns. Or is it really him? Stars Gerard Depardieu and Nathalie Baye – who played Leonardo Dicaprio’s mom in Catch Me If You Can.)
Antonia’s Line (Netherlands. Feminist tale of woman deciding to not remarry in rural Netherlands.)
Au Revoir, Les Enfants (French. Based on director’s experience as young boy in private school during Nazi occupation in France and the fate of a Jewish boy in the school.)
Cinema Paradiso (Italy. Young man grows up in southern Italy, taking photos and eventually becoming movie director)
Cyrano de Bergerac (French version of famous play with Gerard Depardieu.)
Das Boot (German World War II submarine story. The Germans are the good guys.)
Dona Flora and Her Two Husbands (Brazil. Dona Flora’s first husband’s ghost shows up to make her life spicy.)
Il Postino (Italy. Lovely movie about a particular place and time on an Italian island, seen through the eyes of the local postman.)
Germinal (French. Story of miners in 19th century France based on Zola’s book. Excellent example of class differences. With Gerard Depardieu.)
Chinese Ghost Story (Hong Kong, fun kung fu movie with a Chinese vampire and ghosts.)
Jean de Florette (French, directed by Claude Berri and stars Gerard Depardieu. It’s sequel, Manon of the Spring, is even better.)
La Nuit de Varenne (Thomas Paine, played by Harvey Keitel, and Casanova travel together with others in the wake of Marie Antoinette as she flees revolutionaries.)
Mon Oncle d’Amerique (French study of the underpinnings of human psychology, with Gerard Depardieu)
Pelle the Conqueror (Danish/Swedish. Swedish immigrants in Denmark. Directed by Billie August and starring Max van Sydow.)
Downfall (German. About Hitler’s last days in his Berlin bunker)
The Ninth Day (German by Volker Schlondorff. A Catholic priest is given a nine day “leave” from a Nazi concentration camp and told he must do the Nazis’ bidding.)
Paradise Now. (Palestinian. Two young men decide to become suicide bombers. A very intense film.)
Motorcycle Diaries (in Spanish – Young Ernesto Che Guevara and his friend take a road trip from Argentina to Peru.)
Water (by Deepa Mehta from India – Hindu scripture says that widows must withdraw from public life and never marry again, even if they are child brides and child widows.)
The next three movies are all directed by Zhang Yimou and star Gong Li, two of the best known Chinese outside of China:
Raise the Red Lantern (Chinese. Originally banned in China. Tale of young girl sent to be fourth wife of landlord and the claustrophobic life that the woman must lead.
Red Sorghum (Chinese. About Japanese occupation in China during WWII.)
To Live (Chinese. Also originally banned in China. Tale of one family’s travails through much of 20th century China. Shows the vast political changes and difficulties of that period.)
The Story of the Weeping Camel (Directed by Byambasuren Davaa, Luigi Falorni – 2003. A simple and very touching story of a baby camel and its mother who rejects it and of the Mongolian family who owns the camels and try their best to get the mother to accept the baby so that it won’t starve.)
For the more adventuresome: They may be in black and white or they may have narratives that are not quite so linear, or they may have acting or art direction that does not follow modern, U.S. aesthetics.
Close to Eden (Mongolian, Chinese and Russian. Modern Sino-Mongolian nomad family befriends Russian truck driver. Mongolian father goes to town to get condoms and brings home television.)
Nosferatu (German silent film. Dracula story with a twist. Remade in the 1980s by Werner Herzog, but the silent version is the best and is in my Top 10 Movies Ever list.) Also by Herzog, Aguirre, the Wrath of God (a Spanish conquistador in South America goes mad)
Ran (Japanese. A retelling of King Lear by Akira Kurosawa.)
Any movie by Akira Kurosawa. Dreams was one of his last movies and features several short stories. The Seven Samurai is one of his best known movies and was remade in the U.S. as The Magnificent Seven. In the Japanese version, a group of out-of-luck samurai are hired to defend a peasant village from local bandits. Rashoman is a tale of how stories can change based on your point of view. A robbery/ rape/ murder is retold by the criminal, the woman who was raped, a bystander, and even the murdered husband (through a medium). Throne of Blood (retelling of Macbeth in Japan.)
Alexander Nevsky (Russians defend their homeland against Teutonic knights)
Any of the Apu Trilogy movies. Director Satyajit Ray of India. Tells of boy growing up in Indian village and eventually moving to the city. Includes Pather Panchali, Aparajito and The World of Apu, The first and third are the better ones.
The Ballad of Narayama (Japanese, tells of a cultural minority in Japan, similarly regarded as “Appalachian hillbillies” in the U.S.)
Beauty and the Beast (French, director is Cocteau)
The Bicycle Thief (Italian. Life in Italy just following World War II)
Black Orpheus (Brazilian) Retelling of the Greek Orpheus myth in modern Brazil. Also, Orphee (Retelling of the Orpheus myth by French director Cocteau.)
The Blue Angel (German cabaret floozy [Marlene Dietrich] seduces a pompous high school teacher. Avoid the English language version at all cost; it’s not the same film.)
The Bridge (German teenagers must defend the village bridge against the advancing Americans in 1945.)
Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (German, silent. Another great Weimar film using Expressionist sets.)
Children of Paradise (French classic about theater folk in 1830’s Paris. Filmed during the Nazi occupation. Called the French Gone With the Wind.)
Come and See (Soviet World War II film. As fine a WWII film as any anywhere.)
Day for Night (French, director is Francois Truffaut. Story about making a film.)
Fanny and Alexander (Swedish. director Ingmar Bergman’s last film. Two children growing up in an interesting, and sometimes magical, household. Any of Bergman’s films are worth watching.) Also by Bergman, The Seventh Seal about a Scandinavian knight back from the Crusades, who plays a game of chess with Death.
Farewell My Concubine (Chinese. Also originally banned in China. The life of a Chinese opera singer from his boyhood through the Cultural Revolution. Be forewarned that it is brutal and knowledge of 20th century Chinese history is helpful. Visually stunning. Directed by Chen Kaige.)
Fellini’s Satyricon (Italian director Fellini’s take on an ancient Roman novel.) Also by Fellini, La Strada (a traveling strong man and a clown vie for the attentions of a simple girl.)
Fires on the Plain (Japanese World War II film.)
The 400 Blows (French, director is Francois Truffaut. Autobiographical tale about 12 year old boy in Paris in the 1950s. He’s a bit of a scamp. Good look at French education system at the time.)
Grand Illusion (French. French prisoners of war escape a German POW camp during World War I. Directed by Jean Renoir, son of the famous painter.)
Harp of Burma (Japanese. One of the great war films of all time.)
M (German, Peter Lorre as a child murderer, filmed before he moved to Hollywood.)
Paisan (1946, Roberto Rosselini director and he and Fellini as writers. About U.S. soldiers landing in Italy during World War II and working their way north through the country. In English and Italian.)
Secret Ballot (Iranian, banned in Iran. How elections are conducted in Iran.)
Small Change (French, another Francois Truffaut movie about kids. Interesting to compare school system with the one portrayed in The 400 Blows.)
Wings of Desire (German, angels in Berlin, including Peter Falk. Directed by Wim Wenders.)
Girl from Hunan – (Chinese by Xie Fei, U Lan 1988) A girl of 13 is married off to a boy of 2 in a Chinese village. Beautifully photographed.