February 4, 2009

Take a romantic trip to another country through a movie on the Valentine's Day

Viva Cinema!

Love doesn’t just bloom in the Northern Hemisphere. The count down to cupid day has began and here are just a few ideas of movies that are both watched here and oversees (one can’t deny the power of American cinema worldwide.) Of course, we’d all want to go to Paris or Venice for the Valentines, but while most of them will opt to stay at home, we don’t have to give up an idea of taking a romantic trip to another country – through a movie!

Here are some great foreign romantic films - some very popular and well-liked in the country of their origin - and while it’s not the classics you grew up with like Pretty Woman and When Harry Met Sally, these are the films that made it abroad and spread the “romantic goodness” on Americans who started to believe that romance exists all around and it is not much different from the feelings we experience – people fall in love, make mistakes, give presents and propose the same, more or less, around the world. It’s just some of us are more creative than the others.

I’m pretty selective when it comes to my movie selections. I’m what they call – a movie fanatic. When most kids were playing outside, I’d watch films over and over at home, but I could never have thought that some day I’d end up in the middle of the “film industry” when I moved to Los Angeles and happened to work on films; at some point even got to work for a film producer. These have been two great years of my life in Hollywood, but I’d never do it again (it’s a long story and it does not pertain to the subject matter of this article anyway.) My point is that I don’t just throw a name of the movie that everyone knows about and that has been on many “top romantic movies” lists all over media.

To qualify for the consideration for this story, the film cannot be merely a great film with a romantic component – a mere love interest or a coming-of-age teenage movie. After all, most films have a love interest of one kind or another, but romance has to be central to the story and preferably the core of the film and to the main belief, the story does not have to have a happy ending (it’s preferred, but it does not define a film as the greatest romantic film just because it does.) Some films have amazing romantic, love storylines, but they have a sad ending, take for example: Life Is Beautiful (Italian: La vita è bella) – an amazing love story. But what makes it more amazing is the events around the romance. Everyone can make a romance work in the times of peace and material abundance, but it’s challenging to make a romance in the times when love might be the last thing on one’s mind – like at a concentration camp during WWII. That’s why, Life Is Beautiful is a movie that breaks all the stereotypes of “romantic” movies and is at its greatest for showing how to love even in the most excruciating circumstances.

A true romantic movie should be at a level that is intense, passionate, and consuming. The romance does not have to be either successfully realized or “psychologically healthy” in its manifestation. In fact, the most intense romantic passions typically involve obstacles of one type or another – parents or religion standing in the way, duty keeping the lovers apart, or a physical attribute of one’s appearance (or the lack of it) as an obstacle between the two. And it is often these very obstacles that inflame love beyond normal bounds and make it interesting as subject matter for a love story. The love may have an obsessive or even an abusive component.

(Sophie Marceau in The Student)

Agree with me or not, but these are just the suggestions for the movies that I’d suggest not only to my readers, but also to my friends and family:
The End of the Affair (Canada, 1997)
English Patient (UK/USA, 1996)
Notting Hill (UK/USA, 1999)
The Last Kiss (Italy, 2001)
Pride and Prejudice (UK, 1996), watch video.
Confetti (UK, 2006)
Love Actually (UK, 2003)
Boyfriends & Girlfriends (L' Ami de mon amie, France, 1987)
The Student (L' Étudiante, France, 1988), watch video.
Anna Karenina (Russia, 1967)
2 Days in Paris (France/Germany, 2007)
Amelie (Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain, France, 2001)
Respiro (Italy, 2002)
La Dolce Vita (Italy, 1960)
Y tu mamá también (Mexico, 2001)
The Motorcycle Diaries (Diarios de motocicleta, Mexico, 2004)
Il Postino (Italy, 1994)
Belle Epoque (Spain, 1992)
Like Water for Chocolate (Como agua para chocolate, Mexico, 1992)
The Scent of Green Papaya (Mùi du du xanh - L'odeur de la papaye verte, Vietnam/France, 1993)
Jules and Jim (Jules et Jim , France, 1962)

(Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice)

And here are films that are neither international nor American – with an international flavor - they are a mix of both worlds and are still a good choice for the Valentine’s Day date movie:
Atonement (2007)

(Tatijana Samoylova in Anna Karenina)

And most of them are available at Blockbuster, Hollywood Video (to a lesser degree than the other video rentals) and Netflix, or you can always make an extra step and order it on Amazon.com.

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