Foreign: For Adults Only

Posted by on Dec 7, 2011 in Foreign | 0 comments


Battle Royale (2000): To make sure kids behave and manage the population, a class is sent to an island with combat weapons and forced to kill each other until only one is left. Yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008): Though not as well crafted as Goodbye Children, this film follows an 8-year-old German boy who makes friends with an 8-year-old Jew through the barbed wire fence of a concentration camp. The content is affecting, to be sure, but it’s made extra potent because it’s from the child’s naive and curious perspective.

Cria Cuervos (1976): Perhaps no movie has better captured grief and the experience of losing a loved one than this Spanish film seen through the eyes of an 8-year-old girl. Grab the tissues.

The Devil’s Backbone (2001): This thriller-horror from Guillermo Del Toro takes place at a creepy orphanage during the Spanish Civil War, through the eyes of a boy who keeps seeing ghosts.

Fanny and Alexander (1982): Ingmar Bergman’s semibiographical and perhaps most accessible film once again considers human existence via death, sex, and religion, but this time from a much younger set of eyes.

Forbidden Games (1952): Rene Clement’s best film examines poignant and depressing themes of religion, death, and war through the eyes and experiences of two young French children. It’s Grave of the Fireflies only not as depressing and with a name-calling ending more memorable than Shane.

The 400 Blows (1959): Francois Truffaut’s semibiographical debut, which ushered in French New Wave, is an endlessly heartbreaking portrait of a misunderstood boy who opts for rebellion.

Goodbye, Children (1987): Louis Malle waited his entire life to present this highly personal reflection of his turmoil in Nazi-occupied France as a young boy. As seen from the eyes of two best friends, Au Revoir Les Enfants is a crowning achievement of tearjerkers.

Grave of the Fireflies (1988): grave-of-the-fireflies2This animé film is as depressing as The Deer Hunter, but I’ll be bold and argue it as a superior anti-war movie, as we follow two orphaned children in WWII Japan.

The Illusionist (2010): From the makers of Triplets of Belleville comes this homage to the brilliant Jacques Tati (allegedly written autobiographically before his death) about a struggling magician. Adults will find the character and his dealings with a coy youth believing he’s actually magic, but it’s depressing stuff.

Princess Mononoke (1997): Though it’s likely well over the heads of children, and much too violent, Miyazaki’s environmentalist feature about a war between the natural world and human expansionism is quite powerful for adult viewers.

Railway Children (1970): With some hilariously bad dialogue and some far-too-boring stretches for kids’ attention spans, Railway Children is a flawed, but worth-while piece of storytelling, I dare say.

The Spirit of the Beehive (1973): This hauntingly desolate film’s best moments come because a pair of young girls see Frankenstein. The first comes the night after they see it, in the moments before sleep as they lay in bed, anxious and frightened, discussing the monster. The second comes at the end, when one of them thinks she encounters him.

Walkabout (1971): Beyond the suicides, brutal animal killings, and matter-of-fact nudity lies a poignant film about two London youths stranded in the Australian outback expertly shot by Nicolas Roeg.

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