I like film. I like learning the French language. To me, it only seems natural that these two interests combine. Unfortunately, I can’t exactly google “French films to learn the language” and expect to find extensive feedback. Trust me; I’ve tried. There are, of course, general guides and lists devoted specifically toward French cinema as a whole, but that isn’t what I’m looking for.
What I’m wondering is if someone here can help me find films that feature particularly idiomatic, conversational dialog. You don’t have to be an expert in French to help me; it’s fairly easy to tell simply by the subtitles. An example of this would be A bout de souffle. If they’re talking about sex, hanging out with close friends, committing a crime, etc. it will probably be very idiomatic. Just in French is all I ask.
Thanks. Your help is very much appreciated.
If I was going to be an ass I’d say Playtime. It’s a masterpiece, but there isn’t much dialog.
I think Godard would be good for this. Mellville, as well.
And your last name is excellent.
Long lost siblings?
Aren’t we all?
Josh: Yeah, Godard is good for that. I’ve learned almost all of my swear words from “Une femme est une femme.” But hopefully, something more recent as to help me to speak up-to-date French. Nice name to you too! :) I like meeting other Glenn’s (or even Glen’s), but Ryan as a last name is even better.
There are way too many Joshs on here. I’ve been trying to thin the herd through name-calling and hair-pulling to no avail, but we’ll see.
Recent French films?
Irreversible and Martyrs probably don’t have what you’re looking for, but maybe Cache or Code Unknown? I haven’t seen a whole lot of contemporary French films.
For idiomatic, metaphorical usage of French, Jeunet’s Micmacs, while not a great film, is fantastic.
Summer Hours is basically a series of conversations about death, sex, art, memories and drugs.
The films of Eric Rohmer seem to fit the bil perfectly.
Children of Paradise
Jules and Jim
I think Rohmer is perfect for you… You could also look at Desplechin’s and Godard’s pictures.
I second Rohmer, that’s an excellent recommendation. You can watch his six moral tales, his tales of four seasons or his masterpiece “Le rayon vert” to get a perfect introduction to the spoken French language. Some of Rivette’s films like “Le pont du Nord” or “La bande des quatre” would also qualify.
on the top of my head it’s Jacques Rozier’s Adieu Philippine, a very fun movie.
Yes to Rohmer, Godard and Desplechin, maybe Audiard could be of some use (The Beat that My Heart Skipped, Prophet…)
Godard is not too good for language study, because the characters tend to speak very quickly and use a lot of argot. The only actor in Breathless who was understandable to “nous americains” was Seberg whose accent was as bad as ours. The best French movies for students are Hiroshima mon amour and L’Anee derniere a Marienbad. They speak very slowly.
I’d say Bertrand Blier too !!!
The Mother and the Whore
Another vote for Rohmer. it’s simple conversational French involving very basic exchanges of information.
As other have said, Rohmer is a great choice.
Films by Olivier Assayas, Dardenne brothers, Claude Miller, Jean Eustache, Erick Zonka and Agnes Jaoui are good and would help you with the language too.
I disagree with Rohmer. While conversational, his films aren’t particularly idiomatic. Only if you want clear conventional French of the educated upper-middle class.
I’m on the same boat, Glenn. Rohmer, like mentioned above, is ideal. I would also recommend Philippe Garrel for learning French, for its calmly and slowly spoken dialogues. Le Bonheur by Varda I thought was excellent for picking up French, as well as Le Gai Savoir by Godard. I know you said that you wanted us to stick to French films, but.. have you considered english ones with French subtitles? It’s great, and is even more effective if you can opt to watch the DVD in French with English subtitles, and then in English with French subtitles.
Angela A, La Belle Noiseuse, La Balance, Diva, Quiet Days in Clichy, One Deadly Summer, Romance, Fat Girl, The Piano Teacher, L’Appartement, Celine and Julie Go Boating.
Might be what you’re looking for. I think The Mother and the Whore is the best example, but is almost non-existent on dvd.
I got into Italian film for the very same reason, to help learn the language by immersing myself in it. The difficulty with Italian was because of the different dialects—I would pick up a film that said “Italian” and find that it was mostly in the Sicilian dialect, such a difference that it’s almost a completely different language. I don’t know if the dialects in French are as diverse as Italian, but beware.
When using film to learn a language, here is a bit of advice I was given that I found to be very helpful: Make sure to watch it without the subtitles too. It allows you to be more immersed in the language, to listen better, and to assimilate it more.
Also, don’t overlook the special features on a disc. More than just the film, there can be a lot of dialogue in the interviews, documentaries, etc. that are helpful in learning the language.
Thank you to everyone for the helpful and enthusiastic replies!
RREGAN: I disagree with the idea that Godard is not ideal for French learners. It gives you a good idea of real, living French. Also, I feel as though merely watching films like Hiroshima mon amour (though my favorite film :D) can give a bad idea of the language because of the distinctly poetic and non-“quotidien” register of the whole movie, not to mention that the exchange is done mostly with a foreigner who has a thick Japanese accent. But thank you, I will have to pass on L’Année dernière a Marienbad to my beginning French-learner friends.
Klaus: I’m happy to see another French learner. It’s a scary task ahead of us and we have to stick together! :) Using subtitles is also an excellent idea. I do that when I can’t push myself to watch a French film (though sadly the Criterion DVDs lack French subtitles), and, with some films like Taxi Driver specifically, I learn a lot of vulgar and familiar expressions using this method. The French-dub, English-subtitle method I haven’t tried, but I’ll see what that’s like, though maybe without English subtitles if I can do it.
Edward: Thanks for the great advice. French can have some disparity in the spoken intonation and speed depending on the city, but there are few famous films (that I’m aware of) that contain speakers with oral habits significantly different than the standard Parisian accent. Maybe if one watches Belgic or Canadian films, there could be the difference in dialect that you’re referring to. As for subtitles, I completely agree. Lately I don’t watch French films with the subtitles on, but sometimes I need to use the French subtitles, which again are lacking on Criterion DVDs >: [. I have neglected to explore the special features on my DVDs, however. I will definitely go back to some films and do that.
The films of Jeunet (and caro)
Really anything with Juliette Binoche, really clean voice, no real slang, very proper French, and always great perfromances.
You can find French subtitles on the net. GIYF.
I’m sorry; I don’t think I follow. How do you add said subtitles to a DVD being played? Or, do you mean read these subtitles offscreen while watching the movie simulateneously?
Grand Illusion, Mon Oncle, Playtime, The Rules of the Game, Children of Paradise, Last Year at Marienbad, Le Samourai are all fantastic French films.
Belle de Jour (1967)
Blue, White, and Red Trilogy (1993-94)
Jules and Jim (1962)
The Battle of Algiers (1966)
Man Bites Dog (1992)
Band of Outsiders (1964)
My Life to Live (1962)
The Wages of Fear (1953)
My Night at Maud’s (1969)
A Christmas Tale (2008)
That Obscure Object of Desire (1977)
Elevator to the Gallows (1958)
Les Bonnes Femmes (1960)
The Prophet (2009)
That’s my short list!!