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Watch: Trailers For Martin Scorsese’s List Of The 39 Foreign Films You Should See Before You Die

The Playlist By Edward Davis | The Playlist August 20, 2014 at 4:14PM

You may have heard this one before: several years ago a young filmmaker (Colin Levy) wrote to Martin Scorsese asking which films he should see in order to broaden his cinematic horizons. Much to his surprise the director answered him and provided a list, through his assistant, of 39 essential foreign films to watch – or as many are calling it, the 39 films you should see before you die.
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Martin Scorsese’s Foreign Essentials

You may have heard this one before: several years ago a young filmmaker (Colin Levy) wrote to Martin Scorsese asking which films he should see in order to broaden his cinematic horizons. Much to his surprise, the director answered him and provided a list, through his assistant, of 39 essential foreign films to watch – or as many are calling it, the 39 films you should see before you die.

It’s been making the rounds over the last few years, but because it originated on Reddit, its authenticity was questioned. Well, Levy retweeted Cinephilia & Beyond, who reposted the list today, and that's as good an excuse as any to share it as well. As you’d imagine, it’s a terrific list for cinephiles, or anyone looking to begin or broaden their film education. Naturally, many of these films are already part of The Criterion Collection, but there’s bound to be a few you’ve never seen (this writer’s never seen Abel Gance’s “Napoleon,” unfortunately). The list also acts as a potential nudge in the ribs to Criterion, because pretty much all of these movies should be in the collection, but for various reasons, a few are still not (one assumes that’ll eventually change). An early Wim Wenders set anyone? (Tipping their cap, a few of these films are already on Criterion’s Hulu channel).

Three personal favorites missing from the collection are Claude Chabrol’s chilling relationship/stalker drama “La Boucher” (which we wrote about in our Chabrol Essentials), Luchino Visconti’s super bleak and tragic neorealist picture “La Terra Trema” (which we gave props to on our 30 Essential Films Missing From The Sight & Sound Top 100 in 2012) and Wenders’ “The American Friend,” which is also on our Sight & Sound list (plus this more recent list of 10 Great Overlooked Films From The 1970s).

Below are trailers for all the films. It’s as good an excuse as any to bone up on these classics. And interesting to note, Rainer Werner Fassbinder gets the most mentions with three films. You can read our retrospective on that German filmmaker’s oeuvre here. Also, no Fellini? Not even "La Dolce Vita" or "La Strada"? Discuss.

1. Nosferatu (1922) - F.W. Murnau
2. Metropolis (1927)- Fritz Lang
3. Dr. Mabuse, The Gambler (1922) – Fritz Lang
4. Napoleon (1927) – Abel Gance
5. Grand Illusion (1937)– Jean Renoir
6. Rules Of The Game (1939) – Jean Renoir
7. Children Of Paradise (1945) - Marcel Carné
8. Rome, Open City (1945) - Roberto Rossellini
9. Paisà (Paisan) (1946) - Roberto Rossellini
10. La Terra Trema (1948) – Luchino Visconti
11. The Bicycle Thief (1948) – Vittorio De Sica
12. Umberto D. (1952) – Vittorio De Sica
13. Beauty & The Beast (1946) – Jean Cocteau
14. Tokyo Story (1953) – Yasujirō Ozu
15. Ikiru (1952) – Akira Kurosawa
16. Seven Samurai (1954) – Akira Kurosawa
17. Ugetsu (1953) – Kenji Mizoguchi
18. Sansho The Bailiff (1954) – Kenji Mizoguchi
19. High and Low (1963) – Akira Kurosawa
20. Big Deal On Madonna Street (1958) – Mario Monicelli
21. Rocco and His Brothers (1960) – Luchino Visconti
22. The 400 Blows (1959) – François Truffaut
23. Shoot the Piano Player (1960) – François Truffaut
24. Breathless (1960) – Jean-Luc Godard
25. Band of Outsiders (1964) – Jean-Luc Godard
26. Il Sorpasso (1962) – Dino Risi
27. L'avventura (1960) – Michelangelo Antonioni
28. Blow Up (1966) – Michelangelo Antonioni
29. Before the Revolution (1964) - Bernardo Bertolucci
30. Le boucher (1970) - Claude Chabrol
31. Weekend - (1967) Jean-Luc Godard
32. Death by Hanging (1968) - Nagisa Ôshima
33. The Merchant of Four Seasons (1971) - Rainer Werner Fassbinder
34. Ali: Fear Eats The Soul (1974) - Rainer Werner Fassbinder
35. The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979) - Rainer Werner Fassbinder
36. Kings of the Road (1976) – Wim Wenders
37. The American Friend (1970) – Wim Wenders
38. The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974) –Werner Herzog
39. Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) –Werner Herzog

Martin Scorsese’s 39 Foreign Essentials

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This article is related to: Martin Scorsese, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Werner Herzog, Yasujiro Ozu, Akira Kurosawa, Michelangelo Antonioni, Roberto Rossellini, Luchino Visconti, Wim Wenders, Jean-Luc Godard


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