Watching movies in the original language is not only a great way to learn a new language, but allows you to make quick progress with it too.
If you like films, why not watch them with the aim of improving your Italian linguistic abilities?
Movies are easy, accessible and fun, and can help you concentrate exclusively on listening to the language, as well as learning new vocabulary and expressions that will help you with your pronunciation.
Here at Europass, we did some research and made a list of some of the best movies to help you learn and improve your Italian, for all levels and ages!
“La vita è bella” (“Life is beautiful”)
A masterpiece directed by Roberto Benigni in 1997. It is recognised internationally for being one of Italy’s most famous films, ‘Buongiorno Principessa’ (‘Hello Princess’) being one of its most notable lines.
It tells the story of a couple and their son who have been imprisoned in an extermination camp during the Second World War. Despite the horrors the story tackles, the dialogue is very simple. One of the many positive aspects of this film is that if you’ve already watched the dubbed version in your language, then the Italian is easy to follow.
“La meglio gioventù” (“The Best of Youth”)
A feature film directed by Marco Tullio Giordana in 2003 which has since become a TV series. It tells the story of an Italian family from the 60’s to the present day, concentrating specifically on the events of two brothers who live together, Nicola and Matteo, who meet a girl with psychological problems who changes their lives.
This film allows you to pick up on key aspects of Italian history like the Sicilian Mafia and the flood of Florence, in a way that’s simple yet fascinating.
“Manuale d’amore” (“Manual of Love”)
A romantic comedy directed by Giovanni Veronesi in 2005, it narrates the 4 stages of a romantic relationship: love at first sight, the process of getting to know one another, heartbreak and the consequences of betrayal and abandonment, each told through 4 different couples.
If you’re a fan of this genre, this film will heavily improve your vocabulary on everything romantic.
“Viva la libertà” (“Long Live Freedom”)
A 2003 film directed by Roberto Andò. The protagonist, Toni Servillo, (also the narrator in the film La Grande Bellezza) narrates the story of Enrico Olivieri, a secretary for the opposition party who loses popular support and decides to flee to France, who gets replaced by his twin brother.
The plot is told through the constant use of humour. Given that the film deals with controversial themes such as freedom of speech and the Italian political system, we recommend this film for students who are of an intermediate level. It’s a great film to learn and listen to Italian accents, seeing as all the actors are Italian.
“Nuovo Cinema Paradiso” (“Cinema Paradiso”)
An Italian classic about a declaration of love made at the cinema. Directed by Giuseppe Tornatore in 1990, he obtained an Oscar and a Golden Globe award for ‘best foreign film’. It is a drama that conveys Italian life after the war, as told through the moving story of Totò. Totò is a 6 year old child who goes to ‘Alfredo’s projection booth’ every day to learn about films, developing a love for cinema. You will certainly know this film from its soundtrack alone, composed by Ennio Morricone and recognised all over the world.
“Il Portaborse” (“The Yes Man”)
A comedy directed by Daniele Lucchetti that tells the story of Luciano, a Literature teacher who writes novels and articles as a ghostwriter for a journalist in need of ideas. One day, he receives a request from the Ministry of Industry to write speeches – from that moment onwards, he discovers the corruption behind the political system. This film is set in the context of Italian corruption between the 80s and the 90s and, for this reason, is recommended for students with an intermediate level of Italian.
“Pane e tulipani” (“Bread and tulips”)
It is a movie directed by Silvio Soldini in 2000, that tells the story of Rosalba, a housewife who is enjoying her holidays with her husband and sons, when the bus which they were traveling on leaves without her.
In that moment, she decides not to come home and go to Venice.
This comedy has been the most awarded Italian film in the year 2000, winning the David di Donatello Award as “Best movie”.
By watching this film, you can discover a non-touristic image of Venice, which is one of the main characters of the movie as well.
“La Grande Bellezza” (“The Great Beauty”)
A film directed by Paolo Sorrentino in 2013 and winner of the Oscar for ‘best foreign film’. It is considered by critics and members of the public alike as a masterpiece of Italian cinema. Set in Rome, it tells the story of Jep Gambardella, a journalist and theatre critic committed to travelling around the frivolous events in Rome. It is narrated by Toni Servillo,who wrote a unique piece entitled, L’apparato umano. The film discusses the existential development of the protagonist. Sorrentino uses a certain language that’s full of long dialogue and complex vocabulary. This film will help you distinguish between different Italian accents, particularly Roman dialect and Tuscan dialect.
This film is considered one of the best films of all time, directed by Federico Fellini in 1960, with memorable performances from Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg. Also set in Rome, it doesn’t have what some might call a ‘traditional structure’. It tells the story of Marcello Rubini, a journalist from Rome, in search of a celebrity. He follows Sylvia, a diva, that arrives in Rome. You will remember this film for the famous scene in which Sylvia calls Marcello at the Trevi Fountain. This film is a must-watch for anyone who wants to learn more about the history of cinema.
“I Cento Passi” (“One Hundred Steps”)
A 2000 film directed by Marco Tullio Giordana. This Italian drama is set in the 50s in Cinisi (a small town in Sicily). It tells the story of Giuseppe Peppino Impastato, an Italian activist who was assassinated by the head of the Mafia, Gaetano Badalamenti. This biographical film explains the important role that Peppino played in facing the Sicilian Mafia, influencing the culture and politics of the 60s and 70s.