International movies: When History gets in the way

In the age of streaming, Netflix, Hulu or Amazon, our movie options are endless. But endless options means endless choices, and we often settle for the obvious.

At your service, Super Heroin Marine (aka Sheikha Mama) spots the best international movies to help you widen your horizons! Enjoy the sample, stay connected, and send your favorites.

When History gets in the way...such a strong topic for cinema. From World War II movies to biopics and documentaries, many talented directors told us stories about the human kind through the narrow, intimate lens of people's prospective. This month, I chose to honour this theme through very different stories of simple heroism, magistral antiheroism and the tragedy of individual trajectories. I hope you'll enjoy the read and watch some of my favorite movies ever!

A Masterpiece saluted by Pedro Almodovar himself.

A Masterpiece saluted by Pedro Almodovar himself.

'Early 1990s, a solid group of guys (and a few girls), mostly gay, mostly seropositive, is fighting for the recognition of AIDS-victims' rights, for better cure and less taboo on a disease that disseminates a whole group of the population. This is the French version of Act’Up, which Robin Campillo - himself a former member of this group - showcased in 120BPM (120 Beats Per Minute). His firsthand experience of  this tragedy results in a moving tribute to these casual heroes whose verve, assertiveness and creativity gave tears to the great Pedro Almodovar himself.

Right when the greater picture of the joyful yet tragic activism becomes a bit of a stretch, the movie dives into a new, more intimate dimension (I won’t spoil), which the first part was basically preparing us for. At this stage we’ve been hooked, the characters have become our friends and no matter what, we can’t really close our eyes or lack empathy towards what’s to come. ..

...all this coming hand in hand with an incredibly strong soundtrack and master performances including Academy Award deserving Nahuel Perez Biscayart's, 120BPM is a masterpiece. 

Reasons to watch:

  • A movie that is as political as it is artistics
  • Unbeatable beats
  • Nahuel Perez Biscayart award deserving performance

Reasons to dread:

  • Be ready to cry



An all-time classic with a fascinating outlook on morals and the human kind.

Talk about History getting into people’s way… When young idealist Scottish doctor Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy) moves to Uganda in a rebellious young 1970S adult move, he soon meets the real-life dictator to become Idi Amin « Dada » (Forest Whitaker). Fascinated by the man’s charisma and friendliness, he gradually becomes his doctor, confident and beyond. Slowly but surely, all his moral values fall into ruins.

Far from providing a manicheist point of view, this British-German movie – based on a novel and not on an actual real story – forces the viewer to watch the Scottish (anti-)hero’s ethical fall down with a judgement-free approach. Ultimately, we can all admit: no matter how much I wish I were better, I would have done the same as that young doctor. Few movies have such a fascinating approach and The Last King of Scotland is an all-time classic to me!

Reasons to watch:

  • Both main actors deliver an incredible performance
  • A nice change from the classic nice white guy vs angry black man
  • Excellent psychology and great thrill

Reasons to dread:

  • Some scenes are truly shocking



Transcendental sublime

Vincere is a 2009 Italian movie following the life of Mussolini’s first wife and mother of hidden son, left out by Mussolini’s ambition and historic destiny (reminder : Mussolini was the first fascist head of State in Europe and a strong supporter of Hitler – when he died, the Italian population publicly hung his head on a butcher’s hook). Not only does the intimacy of a loving woman’s perspective provides a very different outlook on the man, but also this woman’s tragic walk of life reveals the injustice of the shadow she was kept in, in opposition to this terrible man’s shinny life.

The lead actress, Giovanna Mezzogio, delivers an unforgettable performance. She navigates from sublime and emotionnal to a beaten up crazy creature, and somehow we’re always struck by the poetry of her interpretation. The movie also tackles some pretty dark issues that are usually silenced or caricatured. Vincere always gives me the delicious impression to walk on a fine, delicate line.

Reasons to watch:

  • Poetry at its best
  • The sublime Giovanna Mezzogio
  • The music

Reasons to dread:

  • If you're only into blockbusters, you might get bored!


If you're curious about movies and history, here's an interesting read for you!