Top 10 foreign films of all time for language students

Oct 07, 2019


With so many fantastic foreign films to choose from, it can be tricky deciding on those that are classroom appropriate. So we’ve done the hard work for you and put together a list of the top 10 foreign films of all time! A great way to inspire your students’ love of languages.

 

1.  Pan’s Labyrinth

Rating:  15

Language: Spanish

A classic film in every sense, Pan’s Labyrinth takes you back to the Spanish summer of 1944, where 11-year-old Ofelia and her pregnant mother are sent to a remote military outpost by her new stepfather. Left alone, she becomes entangled in a fantasy world of mythical creatures who lead her through the trials of the old labyrinth garden. Battling between the realistic and the imaginary, she must confront her fears in order to return to her family.

 

2.  Le Scaphandre et le Papillon

Rating: PG

Language: French

The award-winning The Diving Bell and the Butterfly tells the true story of 43-year-old Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby, who suffers a stroke and is left almost completely paralysed. Only being able to communicate by blinking his left eye, his speech therapist Henriette develops a system to spell out words by blinking the alphabet. Trapped inside his body, he writes a memoir that describes everything from his psychological torment to his creative imagination. A beautiful film that shows one man’s true strength of character.

 

3.  Machuca

Rating: 15

Language: Spanish

Set in Chile 1973, political unrest helps create and destroy a friendship between two schoolboys from very different backgrounds. Under the leadership of socialist president Salvador Allende, headmaster Father McEnroe allows free admission to the city’s poorer children to his prestigious private school. Bourgeois boy Gonzalo Infante and slum-raised Pedro Machuca soon strike up a friendship, but the political conflicts that are dividing the country find their way into the school, putting their friendship to the ultimate test.

 

4.  The Intouchables

Rating: 15

Language: French

Based on a true story, The Intouchables follows the story of a wealthy Parisian who hires an ex-convict as his caretaker after a paragliding accident leaves him paralysed. Despite their differences, the two men build a strong bond and friendship like no other.

 

5.  La Vita è Bella

Rating: 15

Language: Italian

Winning 3 Academy Awards, La Vita è Bella tells the story of Jewish waiter Guido, who comes to Arezzo, Italy in 1939 to open a book store. After marrying school teacher Dora with whom he has a son, Guido is arrested by German forces and the family is moved to a concentration camp, separating Guido and his son Giosue from Dora. Determined to protect his son from the horrors of the Holocaust, Guido convinces Giosue that their time in the camp is merely a game and the winning prize is a tank.

 

6.  Bienvenue Chez les Ch’tis

Rating: 12A

Language: French

One of the most popular films within the French box office! In an attempt to cheer up his wife, French postman Philippe tries to get relocated to the coast, but ends up getting banished from the coveted South and sent to the far North! Prejudiced against the cold, ‘grim’ town of Bergues, he’s forced to leave his family behind. But it turns out Bergues isn’t as bad as he thought.

 

7.  Good Bye Lenin!

Rating: 15

Language: German

Set in East Germany 1989, Daniel Brühl plays Alex who’s caught protesting against the regime. His mother watches as he’s arrested and consequently suffers from a heart attack and falls into a coma. Months pass before she wakes up, but the GDR no longer exists. To prevent her from suffering another attack, Alex decides to recreate the GDR at home to protect her from discovering that her beloved East Germany has disappeared.

 

8.  Como Agua Para Chocolate

Rating: 15

Language: Spanish

As the youngest daughter in her family, Tita is forbidden to marry her true love, Pedro. Since tradition dictates that she must care for her mother, Pedro marries her sister to be closer to Tita. But when she’s forced to make the wedding cake, Tita discovers she can do strange things with her cooking. Set in Mexico, it’s a story of family, food and and one girl’s pursuit for true love.

 

9.  The Motorcycle Diaries

Rating: 15

Language: Spanish

Based on the journals of 23-year-old medical student Che Guevara, The Motorcycle Diaries recounts his 4-month motorcycle road trip throughout South America with best friend Alberto Granado. Travelling to work in a leper colony in Peru, they begin their adventure with the same aspirations, but a chance encounter with two communists and an extended visit at the leper colony profoundly affect what each man’s destiny will become.

 

10.  Auf das Leben!

Rating: 15

Language: German

As an ageing cabaret singer who’s recently evicted from her apartment, Ruth sees no way out but suicide. Luckily Jonas, a young man on the run, arrives in Berlin just in time to save her life. As Ruth recovers and Jonas reveals he’s terminally ill, the two grow close and give each other the confidence to live life to the full again.