12 films for Italian learners
Pump up your Italian with films!
What's the most important thing in studying a foreign language? Doing it continuously, without long breaks! Otherwise, provided you don't live in a country where the language you are learning is spoken, everything you know now, and active vocabulary will just move to some far shelves of your consciousness, and after some time it will be really hard to get it all back.
So what can you do? Noone really wants to spend their holidays just staring at books. And there is a solution- watching films in Italian!
I called this approach "Funecises" (it's a combination of two words: fun and exercises). Firstly, it's much easier to perceive speech in films than in listening exercises because you can see mimics and gestures so you can understand more, and the whole visual context is helpful as well. Secondly, you memorize new words and phrases faster because they are related to a particular situation which subsequently will trigger an associative series in your memory.
It is worth noting that deviding films into levels is quite relative. For example, in fairy tales you can find a lot of archaisms and rarely used expressions, which makes them difficult to understand even for advanced learners. On the contrary, in modern films the used language is up to date , and even elementary level students can understand a lot. So pick a film you liked and put it on.
Quick tip: there is no need in trying ti catch every word in dialogues. Just try to understand a conversation as a whole. If you focus on every unknown word and immediately look it up, watching a film will turn into a turter pretty fast.
The point of this activity is to mix business, or learning in our case, and pleasure, i.e. the primary goal is to enjoy a film, and the rest is a bonus.
Quick tip 2: ah, this seductive word 'subtitles'. It seems like with them you will definitely understand everything. Actually, what they do is a disservice. In 90% of cases learners concentrate on reading to the detriment of listening. Our brain always tries to simplify tasks: why bother and listen if you can just read? Therefore, if you want to read - pick up a book, and if you want to watch a film , turn off subtitles!
Life hack: first watch a film you like in Russian and after you've done this , watch it in Italian. You'll see how much easier it will get to understand it in the original.
Knowing the plot, brain will not get distracted by it, and will focus on characters' speech, their pronunciation and new words..
I beginner А1 - elementary А2
Yes , don't be surprised! Even if you have learnt the language just for a couple of months, you are ready to start watching the series Italiano in famiglia 1.
Italian in a family 1 (2009) - a video course of italian designed for speakers of other languages. It consists of 20 20-25 minute episodes.
Each episode contains a short story about life of Fappani's family and teachers' explanations targeted af memorizing new vocabulary and grammar used in an episode. The course comes with exercise books: the green one has easy tasks, the red one is a bit more advanced.
The language of the series covers common routine topics, such as "first meeting", "a day at work", "at the doctor's", "in the kitchen" and so on. The course's hosts atr Patricia Volce and Manuel bonomo from Brazil. While watching I recommend paying special attention to Patricia's articulation and pronunciation. The reason for it is that she teaches diction and phonetics to it Italians at drama classes.
Pre – intermediatwle - intermediate B2
Italiano in famiglia 2. Corso di italiano per gli stranieri.
Italian in a family 2 (2011-2012) - a videocourse of Italian designed for speakers of other languages. The story of Fappani's family connotes in 15 episodes. Marisol, a mother's friend's daughter, is coming to visit from Spain. Just like the first part this course looks at different every day situations but this time at a higher level . There is also an exercise book to help you work on new vocabulary and grammar , and Patricia and Manuel are here to help, too.
Il Bisbetico Domato
It's a love story of a farmer Elin and a spoilt city girl Liza. He is a confirmed bachelor , famous in the vicinity for his rough attitude towards women. She is a refined and feisty beauty who is used to being the centre of attention. Hurt by his indifference Liza makes a decision to tame him.
When watching you can enjoy peaceful scenery and a flavour of an Italian village. Characters speak classic Italian without slang and colloquilisms which makes understanding easier.
Madly in love (1981) – another Italian comedy which has become a classic one.
A messed up ,charming, loved by a lot of women cuty bus driver Barnaba Chikkini accidentally meets a passenger, falls in love and decides to marry her. The girl turns out to be a princess of a small European state. But has it ever stopped the ones in love?
The film takes place among the main sights of Rome. So would you like to have a walk in the Eternal City accompanied by Adriano Celentano and Ornella Muti listening to the benchmark Italian speech? Then google «Innamorato pazzo» right now!
Whatsoeverly (2011) – a modern comedy mocking stereotypes about South Italy. There is a mix of passionate Italians, bringing up children, mafia, pre-election kitchen, and it all takes place in incredibly beautiful Calabria.
Be aware of strong language and dialect expressions in the film.
So if you feel like having a little bit of fun and enlarging your vocabulary with some bad words , get a notebook, a pent and start watching. Good mood guaranteed!
To be honest, the more time I spend with italians the clearer I see that all these Italian 'weaknesses' aren't that exaggerated in the film. As the saying goes, there's is a grain of truth in every joke. And there is a lot of truth, but it's a completely different story.
Benvenuti al Sud
«Welcome to the south» (2010) – a remake of a French comedy released in 2008. In this film Italians laught at themselves. It's no secret that people from the Northern part of Italian penninsula don't really like people from the South , and vice versa. The Northerners see the life in the south as a total nightmare: 'everything is teroni there! Children, and cats, and dogs, it's all terroni!' (Terroni is a contemptuous nickname for people from the South of Italy which can be translated as "ground diggers", "black faced").
The film is about stereotypes and how they get crashed. South of Italy will forever leave its mark in hearts of those who have visited it. It will always attract them. Now and then memory will recall lemon groves, delicate flavour of an orange flower floating around in the evening air, sharp blue sea, white houses' walls twinned with grapes, taste of freshly baked hot bread in the morning, hospitality and kindness of the locals.
Compared to this, liters of coffee, very peculiar accent and an obligatory siesta with closed shops will seem just funny little extras but not disadvantages.
And when someone tells me: " I don't like Southern Italy" , I always answer: "You just don't know how to cook it!"
The film brightly illustrates the language difference between the regions.
It's a must watch for those who are interested in Italian culture, life and also going to visit the South for the first time.
Non ti muovere.
«Don't move» (2004) – a drama based on a novel by Margaret Madzantini "Don't move".
A successful Italian doctor falls in live with a penniless immigrant. What will happen out of it? Nothing good for her...
The film raises the problems of social inequality, true attitude of 'tolerant' members of society towards poorer population groups. Politeness on the outside and total callousness on the inside. And of course, there is also a favourite leitmotifof the modern italian cinematography: keeping family's well-being at all costs forgetting about your own.
The picture leaves a bitter aftertaste. I haven't met a woman who didn't cry at the end of the film. It will touch the quick and make you think what really stands behind the sweet word 'amore'. I highly recommend this film to the ladies having some illusions regarding Italian love.
La finestra di fronte.
«Facing windows» (2003) – an insightful, very delicate film about love, dream and a choice we have to make. Everyday life of modern Rome is intertwined with retrospective of one of the most tragic moments in history of the city.
It's a must watch for all who want to see a not touristic part of the Eternal City, and for all lovers of emotionally beautiful cinematography.
Pane e Tulipani
Bread and tulips (2000) – melodrama, comedy. Beautiful Venice…. Dream city where lovers all over the world go. And this is where a simple housewife Rosalba is brought to by a whim of fate. Her life is a never ending series of household chores, caring for her husband and two grown up son who only give her nothing b6yt indifference and disregard in return. The siatuarion reaches its peak during holidays. Her family just forgets Rozalba in a roadside diner and just leaves without even noticing her absence.
Isn't it «segno del Dio» ('a sign from above', 'the lord's sign'), as Italians like saying, to finally make the dream of your life come true and visit Venice!
«Follow your dream» - this cliche phrase slips out of your mouth after watching this film. The story which inspires by showing that it's never too late to start again and find your happiness. Everyone with any doubts must watch it.
As for the language pecularities, here you can hear different sorts of pronunciation: from the Southern one to Venetian dialect. Sometimes the speech can get really fast.
Allacciate le cinture.
«Fasten your seat belts» (2014) – melodrama. 'Love story which can take your sleep away' is the film's slogan. The picture starts with a classic attraction of opposites: he is rough and ignorant, she is a classy girl from a good family, and animal passion which brings them together. Some might think: 'another cheesy fairytale with a happy ending'. Well, it's not.
This film is a philosophical drama rather than a love story. The director skillfully open up "the boils" of the modern society. Using one family as an example, he shows how much gender roles have changed recently. And the viewers are ro judge if it's good or bad.
The film overwhelms you with its depth and variety of emotions one experience while watching. An open ending allows everyone to decide for themselves how the story of Elena and Antonio finishes.
Manuale d’amore 3.
«The ages of love » (2011) – melodrama, comedy.
The picture consists of three novels telling about love at different ages. It's easy and fun to watch. I would especially point out the third part with Monica Bellucci and Robert De Niro. Thanks to incredible charisma and exceptional acting talent, their story gets etched much deeper inside than others. From the very first moments you start rooting for Adrian and Viola, and thinking to yourself: 'I want to them to make it so much!'.
You can see the Italian style of the film in every scene, in every phrase characters say. The attitude towards the notion of 'love' is perfectly shown from the point of view of Italians. We , representatives of a different culture and mentality, who were brought up with the axiom 'love is always a tragedy', can't take seriously what's going on the screen. Everything looks just like a comedy, but those who have lived in Italy or have had Italian friends and acquaintances for a long time, can see that it's all true.
Dialogues in the film are lively, full of everyday modern expressions, and it's very humorous.
«The octopus» (1984) – the series which became a legend in Soviet times. I still remember how everyone- from young to old- would sit in front of their TV screens and watch just holding their breath life trials of a handsome, fair and incorruptible police inspector Corrado Cattani, and then discuss the episodes outside with neidghbours.
All women were charmed by his charisma and nobility, and men simply said: "nice bloke this Cattani guy". These days the series might seem naive and can't complete with modern shows, but in the 80s viewers weren't so spoilt with overseas pictures.
As for the topic of the article, you should watch this film not because of action but because of accurate beautiful Italian with rare flares of Sicily words in the first 2 parts. The film will help you to broaden your vocabulary with legal and financial terms, police slang related to investigating crimes, and you will also learn some politics related words and phrases.
The film shows everyday life of Sicily using the example of a small town.
Despite the fact that I'm not a big fan of police stories, I really got into this series thanks to interesting characters, light nostalgia for childhood and good old days when we still believed that such Kattani inspectors, fearless knights to the rescue existed.
It's well known that learning by total immersion is the best. But if at the moment you aren't able to spend two or three months in Italy, watching films in the original might be a good alternative and will not only help you to improve your language skills but also entertain yourself. Common situations of communication, jokes, authentic anecdotes, swear words and words of love : all of it you will find in the films suggested by the language school Skype-language.com
(All photos were taken from open sources on the internet)