When I was younger, I never cared very much for foreign films, especially those with subtitles. I guess it was laziness or the belief that they were somehow inferior to American films. Even when Life is Beautiful won several Academy Awards in 1998, I did not make much of an effort to see foreign films.
Last year, though, I watched the French film Amelie. Although I only saw about half of it, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The acting was good, and the unifying theme was very creative. I also saw a Macedonian film called Before the Rain for my International Relations class. It was organized in a very strange way, but that was an artistic technique intended the chaos surrounding the ethnic violence in the Balkans.
Those experiences were good, but after viewing several foreign films presented by Club International this weekend, I finally realized that foreign films have very powerful imagery and can provide insight into other cultures. I saw a Mexican film entitled Y Tu Mama Tambien. Though it focused primarily on three main characters, an omniscient narrator interjected facts about more minor characters and certain major events beyond the scope of the plot. Attention was drawn to things that we do not usually see or care about in everyday life. The overall effect of the movie was very powerful even though it was not in English.
I also saw East is East. It was about Pakistani culture in Britain during the 1970’s. Though it had a significant comic element, there were some very dramatic scenes that emphasized the difficulty between two different ways of thinking.
It is important to broaden our focus and view the world through another pair of eyes. Viewing foreign films, especially non-Western films, is a way to accomplish this, but it is not the only way. There are many books, both fiction and non-fiction, about cultures other than ours. There are also several courses at the College that deal with cross-cultural studies.
So, check out a different kind of film every now and then. It may seem like you are seeing one for the first time.