Hollywood is not the only source of successful and amazing films in the world. There are many countries that are producing great films which are sometimes better than Hollywood productions. Since the English-speaking population is huge, the movies produced in other languages receive little or no response outside that country. Some of the movies in this list are not only amazing, but also the greatest of all times. These movies have created wide-spread popularity outside the source country. Some of these went on to win Oscars and other prestigious awards from the Western world. Which are the best non-English movies from around the world?
Let’s check the list of 10 best non-English language films from around the world that gained huge popularity in the world cinema:
10. Marketa Lazarova – Czech republic
Languages: Czech and German
Marketa Lazarova is a historical Czechoslovak movie adapted from the novel Marketa Lazarová (1931) which was directed by František Vláčil. The movie was voted as the all-time best Czech movie in a prestigious 1998 poll of Czech film critics and publicists. The movie takes place during the Middle Ages, and tells the story of a daughter of a feudal lord who is kidnapped by the neighboring robber knights. She becomes a mistress of one of them. The story is about a strange love affair that is mixed with medieval romance and art. The movie was released in German and Czech. The 1967 movie is considered as the greatest achievement of Czech cinema. The film is an epic movie to watch for.
9. Spring in a Small Town – China
The 1948 Chinese film Spring in a Small Town was produced by Wenhua Film Company based on a short story by Li Tianji. After the communist revolution during the 1940s, the movie’s reputation suffered in main land China and its popularity raised tremendously during the 1990s and 20s. The movie today is considered as the one of greatest Chinese film ever made. The optimal negative of the movie is preserved at the China Film Archive. The movie takes place after the Sino-Japanese War in a ruined family compound and the story tells about the once prosperous Dai family. The movie is an absolute Chinese classic to watch for.
8. Osama – Afghanistan
Osama is an Afghan drama film about a pre-teen girl living in Afghanistan under the Taliban rule who disguise herself as a boy, Osama, to support her family. The 2003 movie received much attention in the Western world and received numerous awards such as “Sutherland Trophy” at London Film Festival (2004), “Golden Globe Best Foreign Language Film” at Golden Globes, USA (2004), and “Cannes Junior Award” at Cannes Film Festival (2003). The movie gained good reputation on Rotten Tomatoes. The small budget movie of just $46,000 shot entirely in Afghanistan – the first movie from Afghanistan to do so, grossed $3,888,902 worldwide.
7. The Official Story – Argentina
The Official Story is the first Argentine movie to receive an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the 58th Academy Awards. The story of Puenzo’s 1985 The Official Story revolves around the topic of the 1976 to 1983 military government in Argentina. The Argentine drama historical film was released as The Official Version in United Kingdom. The film was featured at various film festivals such as the Toronto Film Festival, the Berlin International Film Festival, the Cannes Film Festival, and the Mar del Plata Film Festival. Apart from winning an Academy award, the movie also won several other prestigious awards around the world. Few critics quote that the movie is a wrenching and painful drama that crystallizes the horror and the obscenity of political activities in Argentina.
6. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – Taiwan
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a martial arts film co-produced by Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and USA. Today the movie continues to hail as one of the greatest and most influential foreign language films in the United States, especially coming out of Taiwan. The film is based on the fourth novel, of the same name, in the wuxia book series Crane Iron Pentalogy, by Chinese novelist Wang Dulu. This great film won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film (Taiwan) and three other Academy Awards. The movie was also nominated for six other Academy Awards. Empire magazine ranked the film at No. 497 on its 2008 list of the 500 greatest movies of all time and at No. 66 in the magazine’s 100 Best Films of World Cinema, published in 2010.
5. Bicycle Thieves – Italy
Bicycle Thieves is an epic Italian movie that was originally titled and released in the USA as The Bicycle Thieves. Sight & Sound magazine’s poll of filmmakers and critics concluded the movie as the greatest film of all time after four years of its release. Fifty years later the same poll by Sight & Sound magazine ranked it sixth among greatest-ever films. The movie was released in the year 1948 that was directed by Vittorio De Sica. The story is set after World War II in Rome where a poor father is searching for his stolen bicycle, without which he will lose the job which was to be the salvation of his young family. The movie is also available in English and is now widely regarded as a masterpiece of Italian neorealism. The film received an Academy Honorary Award in 1950. The masterpiece is also one of the top ten among the British Film Institute’s list of films you should see by the age of 14.
4. Tsotsi – South Africa
Languages: Afrikaans, isiZulu, isiXhosa and English
Tsotsi is a South African film that won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film in 2006. The 2005 film directed by Gavin Hood is adapted from the novel Tsotsi, by Athol Fugard. The movie is the first South African film to win an Oscar. The movie is about Tsotsi, a young street thug who steals a car only to discover a baby in the back seat. The sequences in the film take us through great high and thrilling experiences. The movie was shown in 122 theaters that earned a lifetime gross of $9.88 million.
3. A Separation – Iran
Language: Persian and English
A Separation is a 2011 Iranian drama film that became the first Iranian film to win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012. It also became the first Iranian film to win the Golden Bear. The film also won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, making it the first non-English film in five years to achieve this. The story is about an Iranian middle-class couple who separate after the conflicts that arise when the husband hires a lower-class care giver for his elderly father, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Many magazines such as Sight & Sound, indieWire and Paste Magazine ranked the movie in their list of best films. Robert Eber wrote: “A Separation will become one of those enduring masterpieces watched decades from now”.
2. Seven Samurai – Japan
Seven Samurai is the most influential film in the history of world cinema. Seven Samurai is a 1954 Japanese epic historical drama adventure film by Akira Kurosawa. The movie is viewed as one of the most “remade, reworked, referenced” films in cinema. The film has ranked on several critics’ rankings by various sources like Rotten Tomatoes, Sight and Sound and Empire magazine. The story is set during the Warring States Period of Japan in 1586. The story is about the village of farmers that hire seven ronin (master-less samurai) to combat bandits who will return after the harvest to steal their crops. The film was nominated for many prestigious awards and won some of them.
1. Persona – Sweden
Persona is one of the greatest films ever made in the history of world cinemas. The 1966 Swedish black and white film is a mystery and drama film directed by Ingmar Bergman. On Sight & Sound‘s list of greatest films of all time, the movie reached its peak at No. 5. The film is labelled as a psychological drama and modernist horror. The subject matter was considered controversial and was subject to cuts in the movie. The movie has won several renowned awards from around the world. The movie is underestimated by the cinema world and many critics ranked the movie higher than expected. Persona is one of the greatest films ever made from Sweden.