Friday, February 26, 2010

Don't Be Scared of Foreign Films!

Do you ever wonder what you're missing when you watch a foreign film? Sometimes it seems like you're looking too deep, and sometimes you feel like you're not interpreting anything deeper at all. Neither way is wrong. You can't look too deep, and not all foreign films are made to be interpreted. If you see something that you think can be interpreted, it probably can, so forget the question of "How do I know if I'm supposed to interpret that?". Instead, "How do I interpret that?" is a far more reasonable question. Here are some pointers on symbolism, motifs, and everything else:

1. If you notice something, especially objects, more than once in the film, it probably means something.

2. If there is special attention given to an inanimate object, there's usually a reason.

3. The way characters speak is important. It gives you insight into their motives and their actions.

4. Characters' professions, especially if they are more of a background character, can help you piece other parts of the story together. When those characters speak, many times you can apply whatever they're saying to something deeper, usually a forewarning.

5. If a character makes reference to an older story/play/movie or uses a quote from one of them, it means something.

6. Short or sudden cut scenes are not just there to throw you off track. If you think that cut scene was wierd or unnecessary, look a little deeper. Though the reason for it changes with every movie, it can usually reveal something about the character.

7. Most importantly, it can sometimes be difficult to catch everything the first time you watch a foreign film. You may get the overall idea of the movie the first time, but each subsequent time you watch it you can pick up more and more symbolism and depth. Think of it like an overstocked store: the first time you walk the aisles, you see what's on the surface and sometimes get a glimpse of things stashed behind the front items. The more times you walk the aisles and look closer at the inventory, the more you will see behind the obvious items.

These are just a few ways to interpret foreign films, and not all of them will be used in a single film. They are just general guidelines to help you begin your journey into the foreign film world. The interpretations you'll find on this lens are mine, and they just scratch the surface. If you have any interpretations of your own, feel free to write them in the guestbook!

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