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Top 10 international films of all time

Updated on November 8, 2015

To me the attraction of international films are twofold: they introduce you to a new culture and they offer something new, not just the same reworked Hollywood trash.

In my list of top 10 international films, I have tried to include a bit of everything. Even some movies which don't appeal to my personal taste.

Some of these movies are a little eccentric, but I feel that they all have undeniable artistic merit.


Blue is a French movie and the first in the three colors trilogy. The three colors, are the 3 colors of the French flag. Blue represented liberty, white represents equality and red represents companionship (fraternity).

The main character in Blue is a very young Juliette Binoche, better known for her role in Chocolat. She is quite brilliant in the role and carries the movie well.

As I said Blue is about freedom, but a very cruel freedom. The lead's husband and daughter die in a car accident. Overcome by grief she considers suicide. She is unable to go through with it, so she sells all her possessions and moves to Paris where no one knows her.

It is however not a straight path, the movie twist and turns, twisting and turning you along with it.

Together the movies give you a look into France's soul.


Character is a Dutch film set in Rotterdam (the Netherlands). Character is a psychological drama about family life. The main character is a boy who is growing into a man. The parents of the boy seem emotionally distant and the father is a big believer in tough love.

You don't see drama's that pack this kind of punch every day.

House of Flying Daggers

It is interesting to compare the violence in House of Daggers (a Chinese movie) and Oldboy (the next Japanese movie on the list). Both of them have plenty of violence. However the violence in the Chinese movie is beautiful, like an elaborate dance. In the Japanese movie it's dirty, bloody and ugly.

House of Flying Daggers is a love story set during a Chinese civil war. The rebels set a trap to draw a general in to kill him. But it's just the background to the emotions and struggles of the characters.

Pan's Labyrinth

Pan's Labyrinth is a Spanish movie. It reminds me of what Fairy Tales where like before Disney got hold of them.

The movie is a bit like a dream and sometimes a nightmare. Pan's Labyrinth is seen from the perspective of girl who escapes a brutal civil war into a fairy tale world. But as it turns out the new world is as dangerous as the old one.

Pan's Labyrinth contains scenes of sex and violence, although neither is gratuitous.

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Oldboy is a mystery thriller. The director is a master of suspense, keeping you on the edge of your seat throughout the movie.

Oldboy is the story of a man who gets drunk and is locked up in a room. While he is there his family are murdered. He is the police's prime suspect. He tries to unravel the identity of the person who is taking this terrible vengeance upon him.

Be warned, the film is at times extremely violent and bizarre.

A Clockwork Orange

Clockwork Orange is an acquired taste, I fully expect only half of the people who watch the movie to get or enjoy it.

Clockwork Orange is the coming of age story of a British thug. It comments harshly on society, man and government. The movie's sense of humor is pitch black throughout.

Clockwork Orange was shot in 1972, so the camera work isn't that great.

Clockwork orange has both violence and sex and even when you ignore that, the themes of the movie are fairly disturbing.


Amelie is a French romantic comedy, but not that trash Hollywood pumps out. It's a romantic comedy the way romantic comedies where meant to be.

The movie is about a girl who falls in love easily and gets her heart broken frequently. She however still has a near pathological belief that she will find true and lasting love.

Amelie is set in Paris and it will make you fall in love with the city.

Run Lola Run

Run Lola Run is a dramatic action movie set in East Germany after the fall of the Berlin wall.

Lola's dysfunctional family life is a mirror image of the decay of the city around her.

The movie experiments with how different choices lead to different outcomes.

The Lives of Others

This Oscar winner is also set in East Germany. This time before the fall of the wall.

It is the story of a Stasi (East German secret police) captain who is ordered to spy on a playwright. He is ordered to do so, not because of the man's political views, but because the playwrights actress girlfriend is a love interest of a powerful politician.

Faced with the target's clear moral superiority, the captain starts to question his orders.


Kolya is an emotional Czech feel good film. It's set in 1988 Czechoslovakia and is about the relationship between a musician and a young boy.

The movie will get to even the hardest heart.

If you enjoyed top 10 international films, you should also read Top 10 Manga Movies and Top 10 books to read before you die.

Top 10 foreign movies
Top 10 foreign movies
Top ten international films
Top ten international films


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    • NJ Blake profile image

      NJ Blake 5 years ago from United States

      The Lives of Others and The House of Flying Daggers are two of my favorites, but the absolute best is El Secreto de Sus Ojos - a masterful Argentinian film.

    • AnimeHime2011 profile image

      AnimeHime2011 5 years ago from Greensboro, North Carolina

      I've seen a House of Fallen Daggers, a classic to me

    • profile image

      Jess 7 years ago

      I'd beg to differ about Amelie. The point of Amelie is not that she falls in love easily and gets her heart broken frequently (because she DOESN'T). Perhaps you should revise your synopsis.