Library offers free ‘passport’ to global perspectives

Hollywood is such a strong industry that it is hard to pay attention to films that have a different origin. Commercial movie blockbusters make millions of dollars every week here in the United States and around the world, and some of them make billions, like Avatar and The Avengers, for example. Foreign movies on the other hand face box-office challenges.

Last year all of them combined couldn’t reach the  $40 million mark here, even being good productions. Most of these movies aren’t even close to what we call cliche. They generally present a different perspective and offer interesting and relevant plots, so why don’t they attract the audience?

Most Americans are not comfortable with subtitles because at the beginning it’s hard to read fast enough while trying to watch the movie at the same time. Another reason for low audience support comes from so many American remakes of foreign pictures like Let Me In and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

But for those willing to explore beyond the shores of the United States, they will find the reward well worth the investment of effort.

One easy place to begin the search is easy and free. The Cedar Falls Public Library offers some really good movies that definitely deserve some attention, and it doesn’t take much to borrow one. All you need is your student ID, and you are free to pick any movie or book/audio book you want.

It is interesting how the reality around the world is faced in different ways. Pan’s Labyrinth, a 2007 Spanish production, is a dark fantasy thriller that happens during the civil war in Spain. A girl moves with her mother to live with her stepfather, a fascist official that fights against the rebels. There she finds a labyrinth that transports her to a magic world where she has to face several tasks against evil, including her mom’s husband.

In the United States, the movie is restricted and considered a horror movie, but it doesn’t present anything profane or terrifying. In Spain it is a film for children. Indeed, it is a little shocking and creepy, maybe because it was made by a completely different point of view than what we are used to and without a blockbusting commercial purpose.

This next one is my favorite movie so far. It is called Amelie, a 2001 French movie about a girl who was raised by her parents in a small town and studies at home. When she moves to a big city to work as a waitress, she finds a box with old stuff in her bathroom and decides to give it back to its owner. As she does this, she finds her life will be dedicated to helping people see the magic all around them. In this journey to change people’s lives, she also sees herself going through big changes. Everything in this movie surprises: the way that things happen, the protagonist’s perspective, the performances, the soundtrack, the screenplay, the photography. And, of course, the audience’s reactions after watching it.

The third possibility to check out is a beautiful story about how love and hope can keep people alive. Life Is Beautiful is a Italian movie about a Jewish funny man who falls in love with a woman and fights for her. When they build a family during the World War II,  he and their son are taken to a Nazi death camp. There he makes his son believe that everything is a game where he should never be seen by any guard. It is a very emotional and touching movie that reminds us about the importance of love, hope and family.

Familiarized or not with subtitles, you should give these movies a chance. Seeing things with a new perspective is always something good. Enjoy it. You won’t regret it.

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