During the first week of the semester, my friends dragged me along with them to watch the much-awaited anime movie, “Weathering With You.” While they are major anime buffs who had anticipated the release of this film in the U.S. for a long time, I had never watched anime in my life! Nevertheless, it was the first week of classes and I didn’t have much to do, so I decided to give it a try.
Watching a movie in a language I was not familiar with made me realize I had many preconceived notions about foreign language films. For example, reading the subtitles would be a pain, I may not understand some bits that get lost in translation or that these types of films would be very different from the run-of-the-mill films that I’d grown accustomed to.
Yes, the movie was definitely different, but it was a good kind of different. I was in awe of the unconventional storyline that was a culmination of fantasy, science fiction and romance, the music that set the mood for the scenes and how the creator managed to convey his relevant message in a subtle but powerful way. If it weren’t for my friends, I don’t think I would have ever explored this genre on my own.
Mainstream culture often classifies people based on what they watch. It’s common to hear the stereotypical, “Oh yeah, she’s one of those people who are into anime” or “She watches way too many Korean dramas.” But what most people fail to recognize is that watching foreign language films expands your horizons and allows you to explore your favorite genres in different cultural settings and themes. To put this into perspective, say you absolutely love watching thrillers and crime mysteries. As you slowly exhaust Hollywood’s truly noteworthy thrillers, your interest diminishes over the lack of thriller films that excite you. By watching foreign language thriller movies, you’re exposed to varied filmmaking styles — some of which you might end up appreciating more!
At the 2020 Oscars, the Korean dark comedy thriller film “Parasite” made history by taking home four titles, including best director and best picture, making it the first non-English film to win in the best picture category. This well-deserved, momentous victory only emphasizes that there is so much more to be found in foreign language films that we seem to ignore.
It’s time to break free from our misconceptions of watching foreign language movies and embrace new and unique styles of filmmaking and cross-cultural ideas!
Contact Nandita Radhakrishnan at [email protected].