If English is the language you grew up with, you’ve probably watched countless English-language movies throughout your life and maybe even a few subtitled or dubbed foreign films.
English-language films are by far the most accessible and lucrative movies to make, especially in countries where English is the majority spoken language. While this can be a great thing, sometimes it can take away from the authenticity of a film’s subject matter and setting.
Some successful English-language films are set in countries where English is rarely (if ever) spoken, so it can sound slightly out of place within the context of the story. That’s why in this article, we’re covering three English-language movies that are better in another language.
The films listed here are set in countries that are not majority English-speaking, so it makes sense that they would be more impactful when told in the language that they would really be spoken in.
Coco is an uplifting animated Disney Pixar musical that tells the story of a 12-year-old Mexican boy named Miguel, who is transported into the ‘Land of the Dead’ to seek the help of his family’s ancestors and reverse their generations-long ban on playing music. The story is set in Mexico City and explores the traditional Mexican holiday known as Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), in which families get together to honor their deceased relatives and celebrate their spiritual journey.
Though the majority of the cast are Mexican American, Coco is an English-language film with many references to the Spanish language and Mexican culture interwoven in the story. This makes it a great example of a movie that is even richer (in both script and song) in Spanish.
Chocolat is an English language romantic drama that follows a woman named Vianne Rocher, who opens a small chocolaterie in the fictional French village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes. Soon after, her gentle influence touches the lives of the townspeople in surprising ways.
Not only is the story incredibly uplifting and magical, but the film also beautifully captures the atmosphere of a quaint, provincial French town. Arguably, the only thing holding it back is that it is an English-language film. Although it is based on a book by an English author, its setting calls for it to be told in French rather than English. After all, its leading female protagonist is played by Juliette Binoche who happens to be French herself and speaks with a charming French accent.
Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)
Memoirs of a Geisha tells the heart-breaking story of Chiyo Sakamoto—a poor young Japanese girl whose family sells her to a geisha house for money. As a geisha, she is expected to perform traditional dances and sing to entertain guests on special occasions. The film explores the hardships geisha had to endure in the 1920s and 30s.
Some critics of the film claimed the casting of Chinese actresses in Japanese roles was in poor taste considering the two countries’ long-time war history. It also took away some of the credibility from the story, since the characters were speaking English, rather than Japanese. Though this movie offers an interesting exploration into this side of Japanese culture, those who want greater insight might prefer a more authentic take in the Japanese language.
Language can make a huge difference in how a film is received and the effect it has on audiences. If you’re interested in learning English, an online English course can teach you the fundamentals of English and how to communicate with others in a range of social environments.