[Films for students: Now, that's not a very good marker for selecting films. Students should be allowed to see all films and then decide for themselves. Since that's not always possible, here's a list of random films that students can see and ponder over. I have lifted several descriptions from the net.]
Au Revoir les Enfants (France, Louis Malle, 1987):
During World War II, two French schoolboys in a Catholic boarding school become friends. The conflict arises when it becomes apparent that one of the boys is Jewish student. In French.
Boyz N the Hood (US, John Singleton, 1991): This critically acclaimed film by first-time director John Singleton tells the story of three friends growing up in South Central Los Angeles: Doughboy, a drug dealer; his brother Ricky, bound for college on a football scholarship; and Tre, the focal character, longing to make something of his life but not immune to his surroundings. In English.
Cinema Paradiso (Italy, Giuseppe Tornatore, 1989): Salvatore, growing up in Sicily in the years following World War II, is drawn to the local theater, Cinema Paradiso. The projectionist, Alfredo, befriends Salvatore, watches over him as he grows toward manhood, and encourages him to leave Sicily to become a filmmaker. In Italian.
Empire of the Sun (US, Steven Spielberg, 1987, PG, 153 min.): Jim Graham, an English boy, is separated from his parents in Shanghai, China, at the beginning of World War II. Jim spends four years in an internment camp, where his time is divided between helping other British prisoners cope with deprivation, and learning survival tips from fellow prisoner and American con-artist, Basie. In English.
To Kill A Mockingbird: Herper Lee’s enduring novel about a young girl in American south finding about what life means, and the pressures of racism; Boo Riddley finally comes out of the house, and Atticus Finch will forever remain the symbol of perfect father. In English.
Wings of Desire: An angel roams the streets of Berlin, a mute spectator to the human predicament which he grows to love and aspire to be a mortal. In German
The Bicycle Thief: Vittorio De Sica’s masterpiece of Italian neo-realism; a lesson in empathy. A down-and-out man must own a bicycle to get a job. He gets one, but it’s stolen. In Italian.
Zorba the Greek: Can friendship change you? An Englishman, a bookworm, visits to poverty-ridden Crete in Greece to reclaim an abandoned mine. En route, he meets Zorba, who forces him to hire his skills. Anthony Quinn’s greatest starring role, with Alan Bates, and hauntingly beautiful Irene Papas. In English
Baraka: A feature film without a sound; a look at our Lonely Planet in all its glory. Spellbinding.
Che: May be flawed in parts, the epic telling of Che Guevera’s life tries to understand the mythology of the symbol of the modern revolution. In Spanish
Waltz with Bashir: An anti-war film, rendered in animation. Incomparable. You have never seen something like this before and probably never will.
Seven: Two cops investigate a series of murders where the pattern fits the Biblical seven deadly sins. Gloomy, nihilistic, and absorbing. Wait for the end. In English
Ankur: Shyam Benegal directorial debut. A story of the oppression and choice. In Hindi.
Hour of the Wolf: Probably the most accessible and most haunting film by Swedish filmmaker Ingmer Bergman. A horror tale, where in an deserted mind a failed painter started to lose his mind while his wife tries to cling to him. “When you really love someone, is it possible to see his dreams as well?” In Swedish.
2046: Sequel to Wonk Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love, the film is a meditation on unrequited love, in images. It’s so sad that it’s wonderful. In Cantonese.
The Mission: A few brave missionaries open a mission in a remote Amazon villages, and sacrifices themselves to protect the villages. In English.
The Lives of Others: In 1984 East Berlin, an agent of the secret police, conducting surveillance on a writer and his lover, finds himself becoming increasingly absorbed by their lives. In German.
Solaris: A science fiction that meditates on the issues of memory. A scientist goes to a newly-discovered planet called Solaris, and finds that the planet has a life of its own, and it is manipulating the minds of the scientists there. A visually enthralling film from Andrei Tarkovsky. In Russian.
Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring: Buddhism for the pop generation? In a remote lake in South Korea, in a floating house lives an old monk and his young protégé. A masterpiece from Kim ki-Duk. In Korean.
Mysterious Skin: An event in their childhood makes two friends react in very different ways until they meet and come face to face with the trauma. Perhaps the best film made on the issues of child abuse. In English.
Battle Royal: A teacher captures a group of young students and puts them on a battle of death. Only one of them will survive. Nauseatingly violent, and thought-provoking. In Japanese.
Walkabout: In the remote Australian outback, two siblings lose their way after their father is killed while trying to kill them. They meet a young aboriginal and travel to civilisation. Nicolas Roeg’s minimalist epic of tremendous beauty.
Stalker: A meditation of faith, without ever mentioning the word God. Absorbing, without revealing its mysteries. An Andrei Tarkovsky masterpiece. In Russian.
The Holy Mountain: A mad epic. Utterly bewildering, and dreamlike, and asks too many questions. In Spanish.
Ten Canoes: In most part, most actors in the film do not wear clothes. But you never notice it as the film transports you convincingly to the world an aboriginal tribe before the while men set foot there. In English, and the aboriginal language.
The New World: The story of Pocahontas, and a meditation on men’s relation with nature.
Tingya: A young’s boys relationship with the bull and the extent he will go to save him. Perceptive. In Marathi
Whale Rider: A young girl’s struggle to maintain the tradition and at the same time rise above it, in a veiled feminist tale told with compassion and passion.
Atanarjuat: An Intuit film from start to film, and you sit their looking at their lives, from start to finish.
Once Upon a Time in the West: A western unlike any other, a waltz between four people, a woman and three men and how their destinies intertwine. Slow and captivating. In English.
25th Hour: Can you change your life in the span of a single day. Edward Norton’s convict says you can in the sparking Spike Lee film. In English.
Persopolis: An expatriate Iranian woman returns to her country from France and relive her memories during the time of cultural revolution.
Bold, moving and funny, and heartbreaking, all at the same time. In French.
The City of God: The life of crime in a Brazilian ghetto call city of god, and how one man will do anything to get out of it, with the help of his love for photography. In Portuguese.
400 Blows, The (France, François Truffaut, 1959): Twelve-year-old Antoine Doinel is having a troubled adolescence: conflict with and between his parents, boring and irrelevant teachers, and brushes with the law for petty crimes. An enduring classic of the French New Wave. In French.
Schindler's List (US, Steven Spielberg, 1993): This story tells the heroic effort made by a businessman in Nazi Germany to save thousands of Jews from death. In English.
Gandhi (UK, Richard Attenborough, 1988): This biography tells the story of the famed leader of India, from his beginnings as a lawyer to his eventual embracing of non-violent protest to his assassination. In English.
The Grapes of Wrath (US, John Ford, 1940): John Steinbeck's classic novel about life during the Great Depression. In English.
Philadelphia (US, Jonathan Demme, 1993): A lawyer fired from his firm because he has AIDS fights for his rights in this film. In English.
The Color Purple (US, Steven Spielberg, 1985): Based on Alice Walker's book, this film details the life and struggles of an African-American woman in early 1900s America. In English.
Hotel Rwanda (US, Terry George, 2004): This film tells the story of real hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina, who saved thousands of refugees fleeing the dangerous militia that had taken over Rwanda. In English.
Into the Wild (US, Sean Penn, 2007): A free-spirited young man heads off into the Alaska wilderness to try his hand at survival with devastating results. In English.
Touching the Void (UK, Kevin MacDonald, 2003): This true story follows two climbers as they scale Siula Grande in Peru, the disaster that occurs, and how the two survive. In English.
Cast Away (US, Robert Zemeckis, 2000): A white-collar executive must learn to survive when he finds himself alone on a deserted island after a plane crash. In English.
Erin Brockovich (US, Steven Soderbergh, 2000): Based on a true story, this film is about an ordinary woman who takes up a cause when she learns about dangerous pollution in the water. In English.
WALL-E (US, Andrew Stanton, 2008): This touching animated film envisions a future that could be where modern culture takes itself without restraint. In English.
Gorillas in the Mist (US, Michael Apted, 1988): A film based on a true story, focuses on the work of Dian Fossey as she lived with and studied the mountain gorillas in Rwanda. After fighting against the illegal poaching of the gorillas, she was mysteriously murdered. In English.
Wuthering Heights: Emily Bronte's novel comes to life in this film version. There are two major version, earlier one starring Lawrence Olivier and the modern one starring Ralph Fiennes in the character of Heathcliff. In English.
Macbeth: There are several film versions of the Shakespearean classic, but the best perhaps in the one made by Orson Welles. In English.
A Streetcar Named Desire (US, 1957, Elia Kazan): Adaptation of Tennessee Williams' play with Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh. In English.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (US, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, 1975) : This movie is not only filled with classic British humor, but also provides examples of the idea of the literary quest, allusions to the legend of King Arthur, and more. In English.
Dead Poets Society (US, Peter Weir, 1989): This film provides a great chance to study the poetry within. In English.
Freedom Writers: A high school teacher inspires her students to reach beyond their tough lives through writing. In English.
The Sound of Music: This famous and much-loved film about the Von Trapp family is a must-see. In English.
Woodstock: As much about history as it is music, this film chronicles the famous 1969 festival. This is how the hippies were. In English.
Almost Famous: Following a rising rock band, a young man in high school writes a story for Rolling Stone magazine on the band, and discovers life. In English.
West Side Story The Jets and the Sharks are gangs at odds, but when a member of the Jets falls for the sister of the leader of the Sharks, the story really takes off. The Romeo and Juliet story never looked so musical. In English.
Jurassic Park: Dinosaurs are brought back to life with dangerous consequences. In English.
Pan’s Labyrinth (Spain, Guillermo del Toro, 2006): Myth meets horrors of life in Franco Spain when young Ophelia must find a way to her underworld kingdom and yet save the lives of her mother and her infant brother. In Spanish.
The Godfather: The greatest film ever made about the mafia, and perhaps about family. In English.
Casablanca: This is a classic romance, in fact probably the classic romance, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.
Billy Elliot: If you have the perseverance you can be what you want to be, like the young hero of a mining village in England who wants to be a ballet dancer. In English.
Star Wars: A New Beginning: A film that defined a generation. In English.
The Shawshank Redemption (US, Frank Darabont, 1994): The story of the triumph of the will, from a story by Stephen King. Inspiring. In English.
The Spirit of the Beehives: Life in a small Spanish village during the time of the rise of Franco, a young girl grapple with the mysteries of life around her, especially after seeing the film Frankenstine, and believing that the monster might be lurking around somewhere. In Spanish.
My Neighbour Totoro: The best Japanese animation film, and for that matter the greatest animation film ever made, a joy to behold, a watch on a rainy day for that sunshine. In Japanese.