Cinema has always provided us with an incisive look at our society. As times change, so do the trends that govern the socio-cultural framework of our lives. And cinema is often one of the first art forms to catch on.
With the world slowly becoming a melting pot of varied cultures living within the same microcosms, more and more movies over the years have come to depict this phenomenon. Multiculturalism is now an oft-explored subject in films and what is truly staggering is the various perspectives different movies offer on the same issue.
Here’s a quick look at a few films that set the bar when it comes to talking about multiculturalism in mainstream media.
The Hundred Foot Journey
The hundred foot journey is a beautiful story about an Indian family that sets up a restaurant in France. This movie is the perfect blend of the spiciness of the Indian cuisine and the coolness of the French food. The movie starts off with culturally different food bringing in a divide but ends with the same food bringing people together.
This Disney animated movie is set in the Utopian land of Zootopia. The predators in the movie represent the minorities of the society who are thought to be unstable and unreliable. Whereas, the preys make up the majority and usually consider themselves as victims. The movie has many references of prejudice, discrimination, stereotypes and racism that need to be eliminated from society. The movie challenges stereotypes by showing a bunny playing the role of a police officer; a job reserved usually for the predators. More than anything, Zootopia is the perfect way to start a conversation about multiculturalism with your child.
This heart-warming movie talks about the language clash in society. It wonderfully brings out how people from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds come together and bond over English classes in the Big Apple. This movie has remarkably questioned existing stereotypes, cultural differences and ethnocentrism.
This Oscar winning drama deals with the racial tension in Los Angeles. Crash is the definitive film when it comes to portraying the daily instances of racism faced by the coloured people of the United States. This movie leaves a mark and encourages viewers to bring an end to prejudices based on race and colour.
Avatar is an Academy Award winning movie that is set in the fantasy land of Pandora. This land has a unique culture, language, religious system and spiritual connection. This sci-fi movie deals with cultural conservatism and supremacism.
This charming story about an American girl who travels to Japan and learns how to make ramen will leave you with a mix of emotions. The verbal and non-verbal communication between the protagonists aptly depict the cultural rift. These are significant in understanding the intercultural elements and the linguistic contrasts.
My big fat Greek wedding
This light-hearted movie wonderfully reflects the conflict between the Greek and American cultures as a young American groom struggles to relate to his Greek fiancé’s big fat Greek family. Humour is used effectively to portray cultural clashes and stereotypes while at the same time reminding us that we can all find acceptance.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Vicky Cristina Barcelona is an engaging movie about two young American women who are exploring the city of Barcelona. These women, who are poles apart, set foot in a distant land. The story takes you through a tempestuous journey with cultural and personality divergences.
This is an enjoyable movie that has shown high school detention in a different light. A motley mix of five kids from diverse backgrounds and cultures are made to serve detention together. It shows the audience that teenagers are complex beings and need to find their individuality. The movie persuades its viewers to free break from the socially constructed moulds and categories and while not specifically focusing on ethnicities, the film conveys the beautiful message of basic human equality – albeit through the kaleidoscope of typical teenage angst.
Lost in Translation
This gripping movie showcases the collision of culture between the East and the West. It mirrors the stereotypes and cultural misconceptions of society. It teaches us about culture shock which is a hard-hitting phenomenon and the trials and tribulations of the person dealing with it. Above all, it conveys the sense of isolation most people experience when trying to fit into a new culture.