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5 Best Films to Watch While Studying Italian

by Tina Murphy

Watching movies while trying to learn a language is like studying a language on steroids. Not only are you hearing the words, you’re also seeing the scene that they’re being used in. In this way, you’ll get many helpful clues as to what the meaning of words you don’t know is – thereby speeding up your learning.

And you know what the best thing is? The Italian cinema is absolutely fantastic. They’ve got some of the best films outside of Hollywood. Heck, even if you include Hollywood, Italian films – with their interesting characters and kooky ideas – still compete.

So, really there is almost no reason to not watch Italian movies if you want to learn the language. With that in mind, here are some of the best ones out there to help you on your way.

La dolce vita

This Federico Fellini film is an oldy (1960) but a goody. It concerns a series of stories that follow a week in the life of a philandering paparazzo journalist living in Rome. He’s torn between the allure of the elite society in Rome and the straightjacketing domesticity with his actual girlfriend, even as he’s trying to actually become a serious writer.

That sounds like quite a trip, doesn’t it? Audiences certainly thought so. The film has won an Oscar, has an 8.1 rating on IMDB and remains insanely popular 55 years after it was first aired. As a bonus, if you can quote the film, you can make Italians swoon. Both men and women, it doesn’t matter. Go on, try it!

La vita è bella

Life is beautiful, by Roberto Benigni depicts how one man struggles again the nazis and internment in a concentration camp by making up wild imaginations for his family. The film depicts him using a great combination of humor, will, and imagination to create an alternative reality that protects his son from the hardships of the world around him.

It was shot in 1997, is rated at 8.6 at IMDB (putting it squarely in the top 30 of their ranking) and received no less than 3 Oscars.

Nuovo Cinema Paradiso

Cinema Paradiso, by Giuseppe Tornatore, is a film about a filmmaker recalling his childhood. Yes, that does sound like within industry navel gazing. If you’d think that, however, you’d have a vast majority of the film going audiences disagreeing with you. The film has a score of 8.5 on IMDB, which puts it at position 56 in their top film selection.

Yup, it got an Oscar.

Ladri di biciclette

This 1948 is really about its time. In post world war II a father and his son set out to find their stolen bicycle. Vittorio De Sica, the director, uses this as a basis to explain deep lying concepts such as fatherly love, right and wrong and what you have to do to survive. And audiences loved it. Another movie that sits squarely in the 8 bracket at IMDB, with a score of 8.3. It also goes an Oscar, by the way. Sometimes it seems like they’ve got those things in Italian cereal boxes, doesn’t it?

Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo

In the third installment of his dollar series, Sergio Leone creates the epitome of the spaghetti western which, in case you didn’t know, was very much an Italian thing. You might have actually heard of this film. In English it’s called ‘the good, the bad, and the ugly’. Yes, that’s right, the one with Clint Eastwood.

And you know what? At 8.9 it is actually in the top 10 of bet movies at IMDB. It too was nominated for an Oscar.

Last words

That’s five fantastic films, all in Italian, that will turn a movie buff green with envy if you can watch them in the original language. Add to that that your language learning will improve, you’ll pick up some fantastic slang and you’ll really be able to impress your date, and you’re well fixed with this movie selection!

So, what are you waiting for? Go get these films, then watch them, then watch them again. Not because you have to, but because they’re that good.

About the writer

Tina A. Murphy is a student and passionate blogger at PapersBoard. Her main topics are writing, blogging and personal growth.

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