When people list the best science fiction movies of all time, they usually include mostly English-language films. But what about the great films in other languages? Thorin Klosowski lists his ten favorite non-English-language science fiction films. What are your favorites?
It's not difficult to dig up a list of the "best science fiction movies" on the internet - but for those of us in the States they're always very English language-centric. Sure, you'll usually get Metropolis on the list and maybe Akira, but for the most part foreign sci-fi films are rarely as appreciated as their big-budget Hollywood equivalents. There's no logic in this - it's not like there aren't any foreign language science fiction movies. Due to the technical limitations and astounding budgets, there are certainly less, but the ones we do get over here can still be fantastic films. Since they don't usually have the money behind them, they can't just rely on special effects like US films tend to, they actually need to tell a convincing story. This list leaves out the above-mentioned films, which have already received more than enough credit.
10. The Clone Returns Home (Japan)
We usually associate Japan with animated sci-fi films, but The Clone Returns Home debunks that stereotype in epic form. Just in case the title doesn't sink in for you - the film is about an astronaut who is cloned before a space mission and after a tragic accident the clone is raised. The clone quickly begins wanting for a home-life and the film becomes an exploration on the power and draw of human memory.
9. Renaissance (France)
This animated film is first going to catch your eye with its stark black and white palette. Renaissance takes place in Paris in 2054 and follows the exploits of a police captain searching for a woman. The film quickly moves through the traditional aspects of a sci-fi thriller, blending the likes of Blade Runner and Gattaca into a mish-mash of future noir that's hard to counter.
8. The Host (South Korea)
The Host is the story of a family who thinks they lose a loved one to a monster - but when they realize she is still alive, they decide to disobey military orders and find her. It's a wild mix of monster-flick, comedy and drama that will never leave you bored or wanting for an English language dub. There are probably a few things lost in translation, but nothing that actually takes away from the film.
7. 2046 (China)
From China comes one of the most mind-bending science fiction movies to ever be made. Part of the film takes place in the present (which is the 60s) while the other part takes place in 2046. The two worlds are blended together in a non-linear storytelling technique and slowly, almost methodically we're given a full understanding of what is actually happening.
6. La Jetée (France)
You've seen the name La Jetée before - it's the film 12 Monkeys is based on. La Jetée doesn't have the big-budget finesse of 12 Monkeys though, instead telling the tale of a time-traveling slave haunted by the image of a woman using only still images. It's a film that has more poignancy and atmosphere in a single shot than most do in a full two-hour run.
5. Alphaville (France)
Alphaville comes to us from renowned French new-wave director Jean-Luc Godard. Throughout the film we're exposed to a city on another planet where artists, musicians and creative types no longer exist. We learn that Alphaville is run by a dictatorial computer called Alpha 60, and one man, Lemmy Caution is sent to stop it. It's a wonderfully plotted tale of the perils of trusting machinery and logic that ends with a riddle to end all riddles.
4. Man Facing Southeast (Argentina)
Man Facing Southeast is a story about a man from another planet who possesses a psychokinetic gift to project an image of himself, which he does inside a mental institution. The film goes on to become a study of humanity at its finest and its ingenuity is unrivaled in most Hollywood films. If the plot sounds vaguely familiar, it's because the 2001 release, K-PAX is often cited as stealing ideas and plot devices from it.
3. Timecrimes (Spain)
The title should be revealing enough about what type of science fiction this is, but in case you're missing it, this is about time travel. It seems that the Spanish have better ideas regarding time travel then us - and it's difficult to find inconsistencies in the plot line. It's impossible to talk about the plot of the film without ruining it, but rest assured it's one of best time travel movies out there - well aware of its own paradoxes and infallibility, it feels utterly and completely possible - a triumph for the genre.
2. Fantastic Planet (France)
Leave it to the French to come up with one of the weirdest titles on this list with Fantastic Planet. If you haven't seen in, you're in for a surreal and bizarre treat. Like most surreal science fiction, Fantastic Planet is never fully grounded in any type of higher truth, but at the same time it leaves you with the feeling you're supposed to be getting something from the film.
1. Stalker (Russia)
People might be inclined to argue a bit here, likely in favor of Russian filmmaker Andei Tarkovsky's Solaris as opposed to Stalker. Stalker is a better science fiction film though, as its ambiguity leaves enough to the imagination that the viewer is forced to fill in the gaps on their own. The story is relatively simple, two men want to travel into a forbidden zone to visit a supposedly magical room. To get there, they need to hire a guide, called a Stalker, to help them through the dangerous area. The film was released just a few years before the Chernobyl accident, making many of the films settings and storyline all the more poignant.
Alphaville poster art by Mister8.
This article by Thorin Klosowski originally appeared at LikeMe Daily.