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12 Best Foreign Movies Of All Time That Will Expand Your Worldview

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Foreign movies are one film genre that is frequently misunderstood. Not all foreign movies are boring or slow-paced, and many offer eye-opening insights and views on the world. Where a film comes from has a huge effect on the piece an audience ultimately sees, for reasons ranging from culture to rating laws. To truly enjoy the wide variety of films that’s out there, you can’t forget to experience the most impressive foreign films. The following foreign movies are truly inspiring, and will expand the way you approach the world.

1. Life Is Beautiful, Italy (1997): Make The Most Of Life

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Life Is Beautiful is an Italian film taking place during the Holocaust. The movie follows a father in his quest to shield the horrors of their reality from his young son. A truly moving look at a very serious time in history, this tearjerker will have anyone viewing the world in a more gracious way.

2. The Lives of Others, Germany (2006): Individuals Have Power

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This moving film takes place in post-World War II Germany, when the country was split into East and West. After the state police bug the apartment of a prominent artist, the officer surveying the artist is drawn into his life. An exciting and poignant foreign movie, this film explores the importance of taking action.

3. Let The Right One In, Sweden (2008): Be Kinder

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This Swedish language film follows a young boy cast aside by his peers. The boy meets his first friend in a young girl with the gruesome secret. Artfully shot, this thriller film is a new twist on themes exploring the consequence of our actions.

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4. Pans Labyrinth, Spain (2006): Never Stop Exploring

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This Spanish film was an instant classic upon release. Pan’s Labyrinth shows a young girl struggle to accept her reality when the family moves in with a new step-father. As the girl stumbles upon a magical world, this film challenges viewers to live a richer life.

5. Intouchables, France (2011): Consider The Other Side

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This foreign film is set in Paris, as a quadriplegic aristocrat seeks to hire a new assistant. An unusual meeting with a disrespectful freeloader leads the millionaire to test the student. As the troublesome addition changes their lives, viewers are challenged to look at their own contributions to the world.

6. Delicatessen, France (1991): Death Is Inevitable

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This film is a quirky and dark look at a post-apocalyptic French society. In a world where food is scarce enough to be used as currency, a twisted butcher provides meat to citizens nearby. Delicatessen is not only noteworthy for it’s exploration of life and death, it is directed by celebrated French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Juenet – the director who brought us Amelie. 

7. The Bicycle Thief, Italy (1948): Empathy Is Crucial

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For the more intellectual filmgoer, The Bicycle Thief is an enduring comment on winner-take-all mentality. Made in post-World War II Italy, this film follows a father and son as their only bicycle is stolen. Unable to work, this father must find a way to provide for his son. A direct comment on overly valuing competition in society, this film has each of us thinking of a better way to do things.

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8. Man On Wire, France (2008): Anything Is Possible

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A moving documentary about Phillip Petit, Man On Wire examines the famous tightrope walker’s desire to tightrope walk between the twin towers in New York. Technically illegal, the film follows Phillip and his team in the 80‘s as they struggle to achieve this dream. Man On Wire is an inspiring foreign movie, encouraging audience members to pursue their passion.

9. A Prophet, France (2009): Desperation Is Powerful

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This quickly paced French film follows a barely-legal Arab young man as he first enters the harsh world of adult prison. He is torn between gangs, eventually forced to serve the Mafia. Too young to stand up for himself, the man doesn’t know what else to do but cooperate. An exciting crime film, A Prophet examines the massive effects of a few simple wrong turns.

10. Nobody Knows, Japan (2005): Human Rights Matter

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This touching Japanese film follows unkempt single mother Keiko. When Keiko leaves with her new boyfriend indefinitely, the kids are forced to survive on their own, all while staying away from authorities who may split them up. A heart breaking look at poverty, Nobody Knows certainly effects an audiences outlook on the way we treat others.

11. Breathless, France (1960): Carpe Diem

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No list on impactful foreign films is complete without the quintessential French film, Breathless. A classic foreign film, this movie follows an impulsive criminal who can’t stop pursuing his love interest despite police closing in on him. The film exudes French joi de vivre, and this complicated tale will have anyone more thirsty for life.

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12. The Wave, Germany (2008): Think Before You Act

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A thoughtful and well done German film, The Wave introduces audiences to a high school teacher whose methods are out of the box. In an effort to teach his students about WWII, this teacher forms a social unit with his class that soon shows terrifying signs of control and corruption. A truly compelling look at Hitler’s rise to power, The Wave makes several points that will have each viewer examining their own lives.

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