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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Movies for future ambassadors, emissaries and diplomats

These five films that travel and traverse the globe are perfect screenings for AU’s SIS students

For American University students in the School of International Service, The Eagle has compiled a list of five movies that address all things international. These films inspect everything from linguistics, to peace and conflict, to the essence of living in a global society.

The Battle of Algiers” (1966) dir. by Gillo Pontecorvo

“The people themselves must act. That’s the rationale behind this strike: to mobilize all Algerians, to assess our strengths.”

“The Battle of Algiers” is a documentary-style record of the National Liberation Front’s rebellion against the oppressive French occupation in Algeria. It focuses on the eponymous Battle of Algiers — Algeria’s capital — and Gillo Pontecorvo succeeds in giving a blunt account of this rebellious struggle between the colonized and the colonizer. It is a prime example of both a war film and a piece of anti-colonialist cinema.

The film’s greatness stems from the extreme realism it offers audiences. “The Battle of Algiers” was filmed with an unparalleled dedication to authentically recreating historical events; it exists on a unique border between documentary and narrative filmmaking.

Watching “The Battle of Algiers” invites you to enter this story — this rebellion. During its 121-minute runtime, you exist with these people and live for their cause. It’s a model for films aiming to show an oppressive, colonialist force and the rebellion that undermines it, an advertisement for mobilizing the revolution.

“The Battle of Algiers” is available to stream on Max.

Solaris” (1972) dir. by Andrei Tarkovsky

“We don’t need other worlds. We need a mirror.”

Perhaps strangely philosophical for a list of films about international relations, but if the human race’s relations spread to a celestial scale, “Solaris” will only become all the more relevant.

Set on an intergalactic scale, “Solaris” is a deep dive into the consciousness of its protagonist: a psychologist (Donatas Banionis) sent to a space station orbiting the titular planet of Solaris. Existing at the convergence of the inner self and the infinite, this film ruminates on the complexities and contemporary disconnections of emotions, memory, nature and reality.

Director Andrei Tarkovsky performed his trademark cinematic hypnotism in the conception of “Solaris.” With the aid of Eduard Artemyev’s electronic score, Tarkovsky orchestrates a lulling, haunting energy in this film.

Within the context of space and space exploration, Tarkovsky presents a cerebral, spiritual meditation on humanity. The film will be a necessary mnemonic for a human race exploring the stars.

“Solaris” is available to stream on Max.

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul” (1974) dir. by Rainer Werner Fassbender

“German master. Arab Dog.”

Set in post-war Germany, “Ali: Fear Eats the Soul” portrays the relationship between a middle-aged Moroccan migrant worker, Ali (El Hedi ben Salem), and an elderly German woman, Emmi (Brigitte Mira). As the two explore their feelings for each other, they face oppressive obstacles and judgment from the world they live in.

Rainer Werner Fassbinder constructs an isolating, restrictive world for Ali and Emmi. He frames the couple awkwardly and often in settings that suffocate the two. With Fassbinder’s stark talent for this, he makes “Ali: Fear Eats the Soul” an incredibly challenging watch. 

Never once holding back, Fassbinder exerts total control over the cinematic medium and makes full use of the film’s Germanic setting after the fall of the Third Reich to create a brute punch to the viewer’s gut. It’s a most appropriate film to inspect immigration, cultural assimilation and prejudice. At times slightly funny, while at others heartbreaking, “Ali: Fear Eats the Soul” is a profound commentary and a moving story. 

“Ali: Fear Eats the Soul” is available to stream on Max.

Arrival” (2016) dir. by Denis Villeneuve

“Language is the foundation of civilization. It is the glue that holds a people together. It is the first weapon drawn in a conflict.”

Before directing the cinematic monuments “Blade Runner 2049” and “Dune,” Denis Villeneuve launched his relationship with science fiction with “Arrival.” The film captures the events following 12 alien spaceships landing at random locations across the globe. Rather than an invasion or attack being the crux of this film, “Arrival” presents the unification of the human race as the challenge.

Through the journey of its protagonists — linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) — to translate these aliens’ language, “Arrival” explores the nuances of communication, anthropology and international relations. 

It is a deeply moving and personal movie in many ways, but it still manages to address broad, humanity-defining themes and issues. It explores the concepts of grief, memory and time on an international scale, allowing for a powerful commentary on the state of contemporary geopolitics.

“Arrival” is available to stream on Paramount+.

Poor Things” (2023) dir. by Yorgos Lanthimos

“I have adventured it and found nothing but sugar and violence.”

A feast for the eyes and soul, “Poor Things” gives audiences a new, vibrant and pleasure-driven outlook on the world. Its central character, Bella Baxter (Emma Stone), is a woman brought back to life by the unconventional scientist Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe). 

Stone embodies our Frankenstein-esque heroine as she lives life on Earth. Yorgos Lanthimos creates such a natural excitement regarding these new experiences for Bella that it feels like the first time for the audience as well. As we watch Bella travel the world and experience the immense joy and despair it brings her, we rediscover these things for ourselves.

“Poor Things” paints an interesting perspective to ponder life on Earth. As this brand new life form travels the world, we join her in looking at the world around us and how we, as humanity, interact with it.

“Poor Things” is available to stream on Hulu.

Be it through the colonial occupation of Algeria, a psychologist’s journey to a space station or a woman who has been brought back to life, each of these films offers a unique perspective on different aspects of international life and relations.

This article was edited by Bailey Hobbs, Sara Winick and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Luna Jinks, Charlie Mennuti and Julia Patton.

movies@theeagleonline.com 


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