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Martin Scorsese’s 39 Foreign Films to See Before You Die

Martin Scorsese's 39 Foreign Films to See Before You Die

An oldie, but a goodie. Open Culture resurfaced this list (below) sent from director Martin Scorsese to a budding young filmmaker. Let’s appraise it.

Italian directors are well-represented but this list needs some Bertolucci (“The Conformist,” for one, though his early “Before the Revolution” makes the cut) and Pasolini (“Salo” or “Teorema” for weaker stomachs). What about Antonioni’s “L’eclisse”? The last ten minutes or so, when neither Alain Delon or Monica Vitti show up for their appointed date at a water fountain, are a formally radical must-have for aspiring directors. And no Fellini? Bergman? Come on Marty.

There’s a real dearth of women on here. Where’s Chantal Akerman, director of the mind-blowing “Jeanne Dielman”? Or Agnes Varda, whose “Cleo From 5 to 7” and others have inspired innumerable present-day indie filmmakers.

Scorsese seems to be limiting himself to two films per director — though Godard (why not “Contempt”?) and Kurosawa both get three. The 39 films all predate the 1980s. I’d add Kieslowski’s late ’80s and early ’90s work. And while we’re at it, let’s add more genre films to the list. Clouzot’s “Diabolique” and Franju’s “Eyes Without a Face,” though it’s nice to see Chabrol’s Ripper-inspired “Le Boucher” here.

Scorsese’s picks offer many a great entry-point into foreign arthouse cinema. But he wants you to dig deeper.

Ryan Lattanzio is a staff writer for TOH at Indiewire. Follow him on Twitter @ryanlattanzio.

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