Positive Influence of Foreign & Independent Films in Mainstream Cinema

Art Waring

halozix.com
International independent film (originally known as the "foreign film" category in the US) is what drew me into the deeper world of cinema.

Growing up with American films, Anime, Japanese independent film, and a diverse variety foreign films helped to give me a wider view of the creative world at large. Seeing films that were limited in resources, but overflowing with the creative process. Early on I saw the limitations of Mainstream cinema, and was always drawn to the the outsiders perspective.

Growing up in the states, Foreign film (as a category) was also kind of a dirty word back in the day. The US film industry either disregarded many foreign films and in some cases outright sabotaged their chances of being released in cinemas. This always gave me an interest in why these films never got the recognition they deserved.

Tangent: Some recent films are inspired by their original foreign counterparts, some deliberately being remakes or adaptations (like remaking Oldboy or Ghost in the shell as an American film). What I mean is that their influence was often disregarded back in the day. But today, they are influencing mainstream film in a big way, and in a positive way.

Recent examples include:
-Hunger Games 2012 (Inspired by the 1998 film Battle Royale made in Japan).
-The Ring (originally filmed in Japan in 1997-98, US remake in 2002).
-The Departed (US adaptation) // Infernal Affairs (originally filmed in Hong King).
-The Grudge (original 2002 // remake 2004).
-Dark Water (original 2002 // remake 2005).
-The Eye (original 2002 // remake 2008).
-Paprika (Japan 2006) // Inspired Inception (2010).
Inception borrows a number of visual conceits from Paprika, including an elevator that rides up through the different levels of a subconscious. The moment when the real world and the dream world overlap is also suggested with a strikingly similar idea: a background that, upon touch, cracks and shatters into fragments of glass. Linking these two visionary sci-fi projects together, it’s the perfect image for the fragility of human memory.


Older Examples:
-Hidden Fortress (Japan 1958) // Inspired Star Wars (US/UK 1977)
-Seven Samurai (Japan 1954) // Inspired countless remakes like The Magnificent Seven (US 1960).
-Yojimbo (Japan 1961) // Inspired A Fistful of Dollars (1964) // And later remakes with Bruce Willis and Christopher Walken like Last Man Standing (US 1996).
-Baron Munchausen's Dream (1911, Dir. George Milies) // The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988, Directed by Terry Gilliam)
-A Trip To The Moon (1902, Dir. George Milies) // Inspired the film Hugo (US 2011, Dir. Martin Scorsese).

-Lady Snowblood (Japan 1973) // Inspired Kill Bill (2003/2004).
Kaji herself claimed that Tarantino would make the cast watch Lady Snowblood between takes, and such reverence can be felt from the geysers of blood that spray from dismembered bodies to the matching climactic fights at a masked party that both culminate in the snow.

-Ghost In The Shell (Japan 1995) // Inspired the Matrix (1999).
The Wachowski sisters have proudly referenced Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 cyberpunk thriller Ghost in the Shell as an inspiration on The Matrix. Oshii’s work was part of their pitch to producer Joel Silver, and the visual influence is clear enough – notably in the flowing green code that represents the digital connections that allow each film’s protagonists to plug into computers.

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To conclude, I think that despite mainstream resistance to foreign film in the past, it has been a key influence on mainstream cinema, something that is neither good nor bad (take from it what you will). Influences cross over into new ideas all the time, what I find interesting is the journey these ideas take, and where they end up in the collective zeitgeist.

So, what foreign films do you enjoy watching?

What are your favorites?

What Films (foreign or independent) have inspired you?

What do you think of their influence on mainstream media?

 
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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Many “American” films these days are made in other countries with non-American locations, directors, actors, and crew. I think there’s some sort of formula used to determine what nationality a film actually is.
 

Art Waring

halozix.com
Many “American” films these days are made in other countries with non-American locations, directors, actors, and crew. I think there’s some sort of formula used to determine what nationality a film actually is.
I think the formula being: Wherever a movie is filmed, if they are produced by an American company for release in big tent AAA American cinemas and featuring American A-list actors, they are considered a mainstream American film.

I am trying to cover obscure and foreign films that inspired mainstream cinema, as they do not get as much attention as mainstream films.

I am specifically referring to foreign films (as classified as "foreign film" by American mainstream cinema, and which inevitably suffered as a result of not being a part of the mainstream and did not see the same success). Back in the 90's Foreign Films were in their own category.
 


bloodtide

Legend
Foreign & Independent Films have roughly zero influence on mainstream cinema. But then "mainstream cinema" is just an obtuse money making machine. The machine makes movies to make money, and no one cares what the movie is about.

Foreign & Independent Films can sure inspire individuals. Someone sees a film and thinks "I can make a copy for my country". That has little to do with the "mainstream" though. What movies get made is a crazy process of who knows who and endless spin and crap.

The "inspired" bit is a huge bias fallacy. Someone points to something they like and say "everyone copied that". It might be true 1% of the time. Most of the rest of the time there will be an older movie, book, play, story or legend....so that makes the persons "one" just part of the copy pack. A lot of the rest forget how big the world is, so a lot of the time there is an older movie from another country. So that 1958 movie from Japan has "inspiration" from a 1950 French movie......but those that don't like that fact "forget it".

I like Foreign & Independent Films that are rated X. The whole rest of the world has such a different view point then America about rated X topics. And Independent films are allowed to "push" that X way beyond what you will seen in the Mainstream.
 


Art Waring

halozix.com
Foreign & Independent Films have roughly zero influence on mainstream cinema. But then "mainstream cinema" is just an obtuse money making machine. The machine makes movies to make money, and no one cares what the movie is about.
I think you missed a lot of what I wrote, or passed over it entirely. Sure, 21st century mainstream films are typically created for profit, but to say that every film in the mainstream exists solely for the purpose of creating profit is way to much of an oversimplification.

The video at the end of the OP literally shows you side by side scenes taken from mainstream films that were inspired by lesser known ones (foreign & independent). These influences need not be negative, there can also be positives to consider with the cross pollination of ideas.

The "inspired" bit is a huge bias fallacy. Someone points to something they like and say "everyone copied that". It might be true 1% of the time. Most of the rest of the time there will be an older movie, book, play, story or legend....so that makes the persons "one" just part of the copy pack. A lot of the rest forget how big the world is, so a lot of the time there is an older movie from another country. So that 1958 movie from Japan has "inspiration" from a 1950 French movie......but those that don't like that fact "forget it".
And yet I have cited in the OP numerous times that several directors are open about their influences. The Wachowski sisters used Ghost in the shell as part of their pitch to create the Matrix. They even produced the Animatrix to share their love for Anime, featuring a variety of talented artists all telling new stories in their world.

Christopher Nolan has referenced Paprika as one of his influences for Inception in interviews. Tarentino has the cast watch the films he takes inspiration from in between takes.

Take from that what you will.
 

Art Waring

halozix.com
But, Battle Royale was itself influenced by Stephen King's stories The Long Walk and The Running Man. Inspiration and influence can run in loops...
That's exactly what I'm talking about. The thought that ideas have a journey of their own, and we are witnessing the path they carve through the creative process.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I think the formula being: Wherever a movie is filmed, if they are produced by an American company for release in big tent AAA American cinemas and featuring American A-list actors, they are considered a mainstream American film.
Looking it up, there's no definition -- it depends who you ask. BAFTA defines a British film as one with "significant British involvement”. It has a 31-point criteria list, with a score being needed to qualify as a British film. Many Star Wars films are considered British films by that definition (they're often made in the UK, with British crews, largely British cast). Nolan's Batman films. The Harry Potters.


If you ask somebody else, they'll say it's whoever financed it (often American companies). Others might look at the creatives as the defining feature, rather than the source of the finance.

I guess it's just how you choose to define it.
 

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