Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Polyglot’s Guide to Foreign Films: An Introduction





I’m not a gifted athlete.  I’ve never split an atom.  I’ve not invented anything other than #ChubbySwag. And, sadly, my Hummel-like mug will never grace the pages of Vogue.  However, to my credit I do hold the distinction of being a polyglot, that is to say I am proficient in a number of languages in addition to my mother tongue. 

Scientists haven’t been able to fully explain the phenomenon, but it is believed that a combination of motivation, pattern recognition, as well as innate linguistic and learning abilities account for polyglotism.

My own polyglotism was fostered in large part by a life-long affinity for international cinema.  Growing up in the eighties and nineties I spent a lot of quality time with cable television, particularly at my father’s house.  When I wasn’t watching gross-out children’s programming on Nickelodeon—Does anyone remember You Can’t Do That on Television?—I had my eyes glued to foreign films I frequently stumbled upon while clicking through the ol’ cable box.  

For a pint-sized introvert, these artistic and sometimes obtuse films guaranteed me several hours of alone time at a stretch.  Those early years were chaotic and very traumatic; foreign films, ones that necessitated I focus my energies on the movie, were a godsend.  Maybe that’s why I am adroit with languages.  It certainly is why I love international cinema. 

That being said, I do realize that my cinematic preferences may not be to everyone’s taste; however, I do believe there is at least one non-English film to suit almost anyone.  In the spirit of making international cinema more accessible to my readers, I will be posting a five part series on how to select a foreign film that is to your taste; key films, movements, and directors to consider when selecting a film; and strategies that will help you get the most out of your viewing experience. 

Watch this space!

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