National characteristics as revealed in cinema

by Chris Bertram on September 4, 2003

From a Guardian article bemoaning the decline of national cinematic traditions comes the following catalogue of national characteristics as revealed in film:

bq. The Japanese, haunted by feudal warlords and ancestral ghosts. The Italians, preoccupied with fascism, communism and huge family meals. The Spanish, grappling with catholicism, beggars and a taste for the surreal. The repressed, puritanical, Swedes. The French, who adored infidelity, bourgeois dinner parties and murders in provincial towns. The British, engaged in an interminable class struggle. The Russians, the Poles and the Czechs, evading the communist censors with sophisticated comedies and metaphorical allegories. And, of course, the Americans and their obsession with rugged individualism, the wild frontier and the “American dream”.



reza 09.04.03 at 12:10 pm

Link inaccessible, Guardian site is down.


Christian Waugh 09.04.03 at 2:33 pm

Sounds about right to me. I’m not one of those analyzers who watches movies and then goes, “The directing was a little timid, the colors were impressive,” etc. One of them did that to James Bond “Die Another Day” indicating how amazing it was with the colors and cold motif. I was like, “Yeah, but the movie was a little subpar, you realize that, right?”

I’m more a feeling and idea person. Which also means that for all the crap they can load into Matrix Reloaded, it doesn’t mean the movie is a) coherent about a philosophy or b) any good at all (though, being a loyal fan, I thought it was)… and so, this article seems to be more on my page.

While in Australia last semester, I saw tons of foreign movies, including French, Eastern European, English, etc… and that all seems about right, in general. As we hope to do in Starfleet, we rejoice in our diversity. :)


Camilo 09.04.03 at 3:00 pm

They forgot car chases.


Harry Tuttle 09.04.03 at 8:35 pm

Note she neglects to mention the English made films and the two entries from New Zealand that populate IMDBs top 50. Two films by Peter Jackson, four by Alfred Hitchcock, two by David Lean as well as at least three more English made films make that cut. That’s over 20% of the greatest films of all time being made on non-American islands (over 25% if you count the two Japanese films on the list… nearly 40% if you add the Sicilian-filmed Sergio Leone flicks).

The question I have is what’s up with islands dominating the film industry (and organized crime, but that’s another story)? This was a time when the world’s continental nations were proud of their contribution to international cinema.


Brian Weatherson 09.04.03 at 9:13 pm

Those IMDB charts are fun to look through.

Very strange thing: on their Top 50 movies voted for by female users, Number 1 by a noticeable margin is The Shawshank Redemption. I quite like that movie, but #1? Then again, it’s #2 on the male list. I know internet polls aren’t worth the electrons they’re written on, but that surprised me a lot.


Brian Weatherson 09.04.03 at 9:16 pm

PS: I don’t know if we count as an island nation or a continental nation (I think the preferred answer is both), but if you count _The Matrix_ as Australian, that might add to the list of island movies.

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