All films carry the culture they emerged from hidden in their “DNA.” Film fans often want to watch a movie because it comes from a remote country and therefore it has the cultural background stamped in its atmosphere. This post is meant to talk about European films, films that some Americans aren’t very fond of because of their poor technological means. Nevertheless, give them a chance, and you won’t regret a bit. This post will walk you through 10 of the best European movies ever made.
1. The Virgin Spring (1950)
Arguably one of the ten best Europe movies in cinematic history, this film is among Swedish director Ingmar Bergman’s finest films. The story of rape, murder, and revenge in medieval Sweden won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film and inspired Wes Craven’s 1972 debut film, The Last House on the Left.
2. The City of Lost Children (1995)
A strange and stylish tale by Amelie director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, this film tells the story of a scientist who kidnaps children so that he may steal their dreams. A wondrous fantasy set in a dystopian France, the film features an impressive performance by American actor Ron Perlman.
3. Cinema Paradiso (1988)
A successful but jaded film director recalls his Sicilian childhood: he was a cheeky scamp called Totò (Salvatore Cascio) helping out in the cinema booth, learning to love movie magic and becoming a friend to the old projectionist Salvatore (Philippe Noiret), in a special place whose movies were censored by the local priest, and whose interior was designed to look like a church, with an altar under the screen.
4. Das Leben der Anderen – The Life of Others (2006)
Das Leben der Anderen won the Oscar for best Foreign Language movie. It also received a BAFTA award, as well as a Golden Globe. This great German movie takes us back to East Germany at the time of communism. In 1984 an agent of the secret police (the Stasi) has to observe a German writer and his girlfriend. He soon finds out that something was going on, but he also notices a change within himself: he gets emotionally involved.
5. Eight and a half / 8½ (1963)
An Italian director delves into his memories and fantasies. It is not a movie for which you should describe the plot. It is a movie that you should just see. It is often on top of people’s favorite movie lists. But indeed, Frederico Fellini was a sensational director. He got an impressive 12 Oscar nominations. Eight and a half is his most famous piece. The film itself won 2 Oscars.
6. The Bicycle Thief (1948)
A groundbreaking film in Italian cinema, The Bicycle Thief chronicles a man’s search for his stolen bicycle as it had represented the means by which he made his living. The film ushered in the neo-realism movement in cinema, which used natural light and surroundings, as well as actual everyday people instead of actors. The film is considered one of the ten best Europe movies in Italian cinema and earned an Honorary Academy Award in 1950 for Best Foreign Film.
7. Life is Beautiful (1997)
Italy strikes again. A cinematic gem from Italian actor/director Roberto Benigni, this movie tells the story of a Jewish man and his efforts to shield his family from the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. The film won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1998, as well as a Best Actor award for Roberto Benigni.
8. After the Wedding (2006)
An orphanage and school in India is on the urge of having to shut down due to financials problems. The Danish supervisor Jacob Peterson receives a donation that can make all the problems go away. The only condition, however, is that he returns home to Denmark and visits the wedding of the daughter of the donor. Quickly after arrival he finds out secrets about his past life in Denmark. The director, Susanne Bier unfolds the story in a beautiful and subtle manner.
9. The Fabulous Life of Amelie Poulain (2001)
When it comes to romantic movies, Amelie is every romantic’s dream movie. Each and every element of the film oozes romance. From the music (wonderful soundtrack by Yann Tiersen) to the characters, the setting and the storyline. Also the cinematography makes use of very pleasant warm colors. It’s the story of the naive young French girl who while she desperately wants to help people also finds her own love along the way. A great romance film with all kinds of magical plotlines. It was nominated for 5 Oscars.
10. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
This incredible Stanley Kubrick film was nominated for four Oscars, and has impressed generations of film fans ever since. Originally intended to be a thriller based on the book Red Alert by Peter George, Kubrick realized that the script should actually be turned in to a satire. This was done with great success. Stanley Kubrick has never actually won an Oscar for best director. He did manage to win one for the special effects of the cult classic 2001: A Space Oddysey.