Something that I’ve mentioned before is that I love sitting down with a bag of popcorn and enjoying a movie as a way to practise listening to my target languages. So I thought I would follow that up by giving you some examples of my favourite films in my target languages – French and Italian!
Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain (2001)
Translation: The Fabulous destiny of Amélie Poulain
Also known as just Amélie, this is the French film that most French learners will have seen or heard about. Starring the amazing Audrey Tautou in the lead role, the film is a quirky story about the character of Amélie and her life in Paris. Amélie likes to get involved in other people’s lives in order to change them for the better, but ends up involved in a mystery of her own along the way.
La Vie en Rose (2007)
Translation: Life through rose-coloured glasses
As the title may suggest, La Vie en Rose is a biopic about the life of famous French singer Edith Piaf. Piaf’s music is most recognisable for the song Non, je ne regrette rien but this film documents her life from extreme poverty in 1918 through her rise to fame and her eventual death in 1963. I was reduced to tears the first time I saw this film, and found myself mumbling Piaf’s songs under my breath for days afterwords – definitely adds to the French student aesthetic!
Translation: The Untouchables
This modern French comedy is the story of two men from two very different backgrounds. Phillippe is a wealthy quadriplegic man who is looking for a caregiver and ‘Driss’ is a lazy man from a different class, living off of welfare benefits. The pair become friends and soon realise that it doesn’t matter where they are from, they have something that the other can learn from. This film had me laughing throughout it, and I was happy to learn that it is based on a true story.
La vita è bella (1997)
Translation: Life is Beautiful
I think every Italian student (and even people who don’t study Italian) have seen this film, but it’s an absolute classic so I had to include it. La Vita è bella is set during the Second World War, and it is the story of the loveable idiot Guido. You may be fooled into believing that this film is a comedy with Guido’s slapstick humour and his beautiful love story. However the film takes a turn for the worst when Guido is sentenced to a Nazi concentration camp with his son and wife. I have no doubt this film will make you cry ugly tears.
Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (1988)
Translation: The new Paradise Cinema
This is my latest find in the international section of Netflix and I don’t know why I didn’t watch it earlier! Although the film does highlight the poverty and squalor of post-war Sicily, it’s the most heart-warming film I have watched in a long time. It’s the simple story of Salvatore, a little boy who is obsessed by cinema and sets out to create a lifelong friendship with Cinema Paradiso’s projectionist, Alfredo. An absolutely fantastic film.
Have you seen any of these films before?