From Jean-Luc Godard to Akira Kurosawa: Martin Scorsese created a list of his 39 favourite foreign films

Martin Scorsese took the opportunity to pass on some of his acclaimed cinema knowledge to a student of film, guiding the young creative through an emphatic list of some of his favourite foreign films.

A few years ago young filmmaker Colin Levy spent hours in the editing room of his high school, completing his five-minute short film which would go on to win him the national Young Arts award. The prize for winning such an award was a sit down one-on-one meeting with Taxi Driver and Raging Bull filmmaker Scorsese.

Remembering the moment, Levy wrote an article on his blog, describing it as: “It was a defining moment in my path as a filmmaker,” while admitting that personal tour of Scorsese’s office, editing bays and more came as a huge shock to the system. “Martin Scorsese was intimidating, to say the least. But very jovial, very talkative, and he took me seriously. (Or convinced me, at least.) I pretty much kept my mouth shut,” Levy continued to explain in his blog post.

“Every 30 seconds he would mention an actor, producer, director or film title I had never heard of before. I was stunned just to be in his presence. He liked my film, he said. ‘How did you do the little creatures?’ I tried to explain how I figured out the basics of 3D animation. His eyes lit up and he started talking about the digital effects in The Aviator. The juxtaposition of scales was overpowering.”

Levy added: “I felt like I was in a movie. Why he spent so much time with me I do not know, but it was amazing just to be in his presence. A few weeks afterwards I laboured over a thank-you card, in which I expressed the overwhelming impression I had gotten that I don’t know enough about anything. I especially don’t know enough about film history and foreign cinema. I asked if he had any suggestions for where to start.”

Levy would walk away from the surreal experience of meeting his idol with a sense of dreamlike wonder. While it was a meeting that would determine his dream to become a filmmaker, the information overload was too difficult to consume. A couple of weeks later, albeit randomly, Scorsese’s assistant contacted Levy to explain that Scorsese had compiled a list of his favourite 39 foreign films and a handful of books: “Mr. Scorsese asked that I send this your way,” his assistant wrote. “This should be a jump start to your film education!”

Scorsese’s list includes some classics likes Metropolis and Bicycle Thief which is wide-ranging. Perhaps surprisingly, the filmmaker decided to leave out big names such as Federico Fellini and Ingmar Bergman but did reference Japanese post-war films and included three pictures created by the great Akira Kurosawa.

See the full list, below.

Martin Scorsese 39 Favourite Films:

1. Nosferatu (1922) – F.W. Murnau
2. Metropolis (1927)- Fritz Lang
3. Dr. Mabuse, The Gambler (1922) – Fritz Lang
4. Napoleon (1927) – Abel Gance
5. Grand Illusion (1937)– Jean Renoir
6. Rules Of The Game (1939) – Jean Renoir
7. Children Of Paradise (1945) – Marcel Carné
8. Rome, Open City (1945) – Roberto Rossellini
9. Paisà (Paisan) (1946) – Roberto Rossellini
10. La Terra Trema (1948) – Luchino Visconti
11. The Bicycle Thief (1948) – Vittorio De Sica
12. Umberto D. (1952) – Vittorio De Sica
13. Beauty & The Beast (1946) – Jean Cocteau
14. Tokyo Story (1953) – Yasujirō Ozu
15. Ikiru (1952) – Akira Kurosawa
16. Seven Samurai (1954) – Akira Kurosawa
17. Ugetsu (1953) – Kenji Mizoguchi
18. Sansho The Bailiff (1954) – Kenji Mizoguchi
19. High and Low (1963) – Akira Kurosawa
20. Big Deal On Madonna Street (1958) – Mario Monicelli
21. Rocco and His Brothers (1960) – Luchino Visconti
22. The 400 Blows (1959) – François Truffaut
23. Shoot the Piano Player (1960) – François Truffaut
24. Breathless (1960) – Jean-Luc Godard
25. Band of Outsiders (1964) – Jean-Luc Godard
26. Il Sorpasso (1962) – Dino Risi
27. L’avventura (1960) – Michelangelo Antonioni
28. Blow Up (1966) – Michelangelo Antonioni
29. Before the Revolution (1964) – Bernardo Bertolucci
30. Le boucher (1970) – Claude Chabrol
31. Weekend – (1967) Jean-Luc Godard
32. Death by Hanging (1968) – Nagisa Ôshima
33. The Merchant of Four Seasons (1971) – Rainer Werner Fassbinder
34. Ali: Fear Eats The Soul (1974) – Rainer Werner Fassbinder
35. The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979) – Rainer Werner Fassbinder
36. Kings of the Road (1976) – Wim Wenders
37. The American Friend (1970) – Wim Wenders
38. The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974) –Werner Herzog
39. Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) –Werner Herzog