Finding the Best Sci-fi Across the Globe
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Nov 21, 2011

Finding the Best Sci-fi Across the Globe

Science fiction is a genre that, while it does enjoy a certain amount of popularity, is still mostly a niche market. Sure, there are plenty of big-screen explosions, vicious alien monsters and space battles raging across the galaxy, but when it comes to creating a truly complicated film the industry is severely lacking. Science fiction is not viewed by the money side of film production as being a good risk when it comes to complex subjects. Every once in a while a movie manages to get made that is both beautiful and meaningful, but they are few and far between.
For this reason, the fan needs to go hunting for the unique and remarkable films that show the science fiction genre for what it has the potential to be.

There are plenty of sci-fi shows that have emerged from Hollywood, such as Star Wars and Star Trek, though these are mostly epic in nature, with little going on below the surface. The stories are great, the atmospheres of the worlds are excellent and the characters are likeable, but they don’t cross the boundaries of writing and presentation that a movie such as Blade Runner does.
There are a variety of good films coming out of the US and the UK that do hold the prestige of being legendary in the field. Blade Runner is one, as are movies like 12 Monkeys, Brazil, Moon and others. But once one has seen everything that Hollywood has to offer, there’s only one other place to look – the land of subtitles.

Some of My Favorites

Foreign sci-fi is often overlooked by those who are either new to the genre or have an aversion to reading while watch movies. This is unfortunate, as some of the best sci-fi contributions have come from other countries. Here is a list of a few I think are the best:
  • Avalon – A Polish-Japanese collaboration that explores virtual reality and the nature of being.
  • Akira – A classic of Japanese anime.
  • Battle Royale – Dystopian splatter-fest that is both fun to watch as well as being though-provoking.
  • Metropolis – Both the original by Fritz Lang and the newer Japanese anime remake are amazing dystopian films.
  • Stalker – From famed Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky, Stalker explores the nature of human desire.
  • Solaris – Another from Tarkovsky – avoid the US remake.
  • Fantastic Planet – French-Czechoslovakian collaboration cartoon that is mind-bending and thoughtful.
This is just a short list, of course. There are dozens of other science fiction films out there if one is willing to put in the time and effort to go searching for them. You have to be willing to read the subtitles, though lazy viewers can just watch them dubbed (and in the process lose much of the film’s meaning).
The same rule applies to any genre where there just don’t seem to be enough films to satisfy the devoted fan. Fantasy films and historical dramas are two other areas where the non-English-speaking contributions have often outdone their US and UK counterparts.

Where Can They be Found?

Sometimes it can be hard to find these films to rent or buy, even if you do know their names. Luckily, services such as Netflix are evolving and have most, if not all, of the more well-known titles and many of the lesser-known ones as well. By checking out the internet and listening to fellow sci-fi geeks, it’s easy to get a bead on some of these films that might otherwise be overlooked. To the true fan, expanding that library of meaningful genre films is as important eating and breathing – at least I know it’s that way for me.

Author Bio: Matthew Warren is the founder of the Science Fiction ecommerce site Sci-Fi-Stuff.com. They have recently added forums for fans to discuss their favorite movies.