Today, another migraine was upon me. Instead of blaming everything I ate last weekend, I’m going to blame French subtitles.
One fun experience I had planned for this month was to watch an American-made movie dubbed in French. Because I’m intrigued by the idea of a French Jack Sparrow, I chose Pirates of the Caribbean. To heighten the experience, I also chose French subtitles. As it turns out, the dubbing doesn’t completely match the subtitles word-for-word. I’m only a little disappointed; subs and dubs shared the same idea behind the dialogue, and the same nouns were used within both. I’ve seen POTC a few times, but not recently enough to remember most dialogue or the sequence of scenes. Despite my awful vocabulary, I was able to understand what was going on.
I remembered the following random quotes from the original:
Elizabeth: I can’t breathe. (falls off the balcony)
Jack: Easy with the goods, love.
Will: My blood.
I have no idea whether Jack is funny en français, but the physical comedy is still good. All of the actors in this film who have speaking roles are still quite good. I can’t say so much for the extras. Watching POTC in a foreign language certainly separates the talented from the cheap. I made it one hour in before my brain began to melt. I likely won’t watch this again in French, but the nostalgia trip was fantastic.
Speaking of nostalgia, I finally got to rewatch Wings of Desire (Der Himmel über Berlin)! This movie/film is terribly sentimental to me, and I had no idea how much until I experienced it again after leaving behind high school German class living with its fleeting memories. I’d remembered how the story followed angels who listened to people’s thoughts, and how one angel fell in love. I remembered the circus, the black and white filming, and the wings of the Siegessäule. If the following trailer tickles your fancy the slightest bit, please find it and watch it.
With some movies I’ve seen this month, I’ve watched them in chunks, at night, just before going to bed. It took me four days to see Wings of Desire. With some movies, the mood is gone when I return the following night. Watching this one, however, for even ten minutes gives one a sublime sense of peace. It makes one almost feel pure. The scene at the library is, by far, my favorite. The choral music best describes what I, or perhaps any book-lover, experiences at a library. After having studied dance, the character Marion’s efforts are dear to my heart. The best part of all, besides Damiel’s real-life experience, is seeing Cassiel close his eyes and rest is head on a human’s shoulders.
Something odd happened halfway through watching. I realized I’d begun to write down intriguing quotes, just as the angels were writing about the humans. When Damiel finished, it was the biggest déjà vu moment of my life. I’d written the same quote, somewhere, in my notebook in high school after seeing this movie for the first time.
Ich weiss jetzt,
Was kein Engel weiss.
I remembered exactly the pacing with which he said it. I remembered repeating the phrase in my mind after writing it. I remember physically writing it! It’s an understatement to say Der Himmel über Berlin is a part of me. This isn’t just a movie. It’s a film. A documentary. A visual journal. A single stream of many lives. I could go on!
To help me hone in on this point for you, here is a publication of articles (in .pdf) about Point of View within this film. Don’t be jarred by the scholarly print; it’s a good read.
Is this challenge over yet? I’m spent. On the 16th, I’ll return for the conclusion of this challenge.
Before this challenge began, I had weekly nightmares about vocabulary. The plots of these dreams usually entailed not knowing enough of one language to save my life, knowing so much of one that I couldn’t speak another, and even being attacked by words. (German, I’m looking at you.)
These dreams have since stopped. I believe immersing myself in some of these languages I’m learning (or want to learn) has given the vocabulary somewhere to go. My brain is finally able to put some of them to use. The first two weeks, I was even able to add a buttload more German flashcards without being overwhelmed. (I swear, if I’m chased around by Kolibris one more time I’ll forget all the animal words on purpose!)
Week 3’s passing has filled me with sadness. That’s not to say It wasn’t a good week. I enjoyed Après Vous, a French comedy, with ma mère. I also found a Brazilian Portuguese action flick about Capoeira called The Assailant (or Besouro). Yesterday, I even indulged in some K-Pop.
I’m sad because there’s only one week and two days more of this challenge and I have so much left to do! My Norwegian language pile hasn’t been touched. I’ve only now gotten into a French groove. My adventure with the Foreign Films at my library will be another challenge on its own. I thought it would be fun to go in alphabetical order, depending on what they had that day. Three weeks in and I haven’t made it out of the A’s yet! I’ll work on it.
The last week will have to be more tailored. Norwegian might need to have its own week. (Week 5, anyone?) I’ll skip around in the films department to watch one of my favourites, Wings of Desire.
French will take a better part of my time. Grammar lessons en français seem to get along well with my morning-brain. I’ve learned the hard way German is bad for me when I’m still mumbling into a coffee cup. This could be on account of my synaesthesia. Because I consider French to be a vowel language, it sounds better in the morning than German, which is more of a consonant language. It’s like the difference between alarm clocks. I can’t wake up to “KREEQ. KREEQ. KREEQ.” It never works for me. My current, chosen alarm is gentle and sounds more like, “Woolabolo. Woolabolo. Woolabolo.” (Disclaimer: I’m not saying German is loud and/or obnoxious. I’m saying it’s easier for me to pay attention to it when I’m definitely conscious.)
This reminds me of an idea I’ve been wanting to mention. Language is music. I especially feel this is true when comparing Korean with Japanese, and French with Italian. They sound different (duh) because they’re like different styles of music. They produce different sounds, different rhythms, and instill different emotions in us depending on how we’ve been exposed to it. Susanna Zaraysky can perhaps explain it better. I haven’t read her book (and I’m not endorsing something I haven’t read myself), but she’s my favourite polyglot simply for this reason.
Any confessions this week? Yes, there was one hour where I watched English TV on purpose. I had a migraine after work and my mood can best be described as: “Sit me on the floor in my pajama hoodie and don’t talk to me.” I had dinner with my family while we watched The Nanny and some world news.
I have also played a little more Starcraft, but at least I’m avoiding other English-media video games. I have also watched a little more of the world news because knowledge is power! I can’t escape!!
I’ll be back next week with more goodies. Before I go, enjoy some Capoeira.
Three days ago, a movie called Amores Perros saved me from misery. Saturday found me with both a migraine and an eye infection, and my head was in such a state that it hurt to do anything but I knew I must resist another nap in order to feel better later. Amores Perros was my dinner buddy. It’s rated R, definitely not for the feeble-hearted, and charged with emotion.
The sign of a good show or movie is one that I’ll enjoy even while my head is trying to kill me. (Past enjoyments have been Pirates of the Caribbean, Argo, and the musical Wicked.) In the near future, I’d like to watch more films starring Emilio Echevarria because his character just sitting in a room were some of my favorite scenes.
It’s hard to believe the first week of FLOM has passed so quickly because I know the next three will whiz by like nothing happened. So far, I’ve enjoyed some movies, improved my German, and haven’t at all yearned to read something in English. (I am, of course, lying my ass off.) By the end of this week, honestly, English is annoying.
I told you before there was no way I could escape passing by my family while they were watching TV. This is still true. Leaving the room has never felt so pressing, but there’s an odd lure to what they watch. The English makes its way into my brain much more easily (especially during commercials), and it’s bothersome. The words are like flies collecting in my brain; I don’t want them, but when they get in there they won’t leave. When commercials come up on Hulu, they ruin the Korean mellow I had going. Speaking between family members, however, doesn’t bother me. Speech is less forced than entertainment and commercials.
Spanish commercials, however, are very interesting to me. One night, I watched Telemundo and found the commercials to be more interesting than the action drama programming. They’re exactly the same. Same script, exact same commercial, except the voice-over happens to be in another language and the actors look more, how should I say, Hispanic? It’s surreal in a cool way. I even learned a phrase: más rápidas. (I had to look up the accent marks.)
I haven’t missed not being able to see the world news. Not even the Stewbert (Stewart/Colbert) hour Mondays through Thursdays. When I return from this challenge, though, I might have to make myself go insane with a comedy-news binge.
Confusing other languages with English has happened several times. At the library, passing words are near whispers, and the past week I’ve been confusing them for Spanish or German. My inner monologue has a German accent half the time, but that may be partially due to the fact that “Willkommen” from Cabaret has been stuck in my head since early September. (“Oh, Frenchie, would you stop zat?”)
Is it confession time yet? *
Yes, fine, I admit there was one (or two) time I got trapped on Facebook reading some posts and linked articles. The lesson: don’t go on Facebook. Ever. And I concluded Zerg levels of Starcraft aren’t exactly English. (Having “Spawn more Overlords!” shouted at you doesn’t count.) The good news, though, is that I haven’t picked up anything from the library while shelving. During breaks at work, I’ve done language flashcards and even started some exercises in a thick German language text.
The K-drama Big is still great. I learned the Korean word for “these/those” but promptly forgot it because I’m not quite actively learning the language. Only passively (through TV shows).
Although I don’t believe one can learn a language from watching shows and movies in one’s target language, it is a good reminder of the things you already know. During Amores Perros, I found out I do, indeed, remember the word for ‘milk’ in the line “Rum, agua, o leche?” You know what else? I just learned the Spanish word for ‘or’ right there. Right there! Awesome.
Since listening to some German learning audio, Scrubs has become a little more familiar in this new translation. By the third episode, I began to simply listen rather than watch, and was able to pick out some of my favorite jokes. I even learned a word from one such joke: ‘eklig’ means ‘disgusting.’ If I may quote the original without referencing the script:
Turk: The human body is so disgusting!
Turk: Not yours, sir; yours is beautiful.
Don’t even bother looking for it in Youtube’s version of German subtitles; they aren’t quite right.
I’m going to post this particular episode here. Have some fun and look for the following quotes I’m proud to say I understand.
Nicht bewegen. = Don’t move. (around 10:30)
Was? Du liebst wer? = What? You love who? (around 10:45)
Du bist ein schlechter Mensch. = You’re a bad person. (last scene)
Don’t even try to understand Cox. If you thought Coxy spoke too quickly in the original, your brain might explode in German.
While I’m going Youtube happy, have a French dub and translation of “I See The Light” from Tangled. If the English version makes you cry, fetch a whole box of tissues for this one.
I’ll return with Week 2’s update next Monday. Meantime, I shouldn’t neglect fellow friends here on WordPress. They work hard on their posts, too. Later tonight, it’s time for a little Fellini film called Amarcord.
The week of German, Spanish, and Korean may soon morph into a sampling of something else.
* At first publication of this post, I neglected to mention how I’d been working on a novel. Doing so during this challenge gives me a more intimate connection with my fiction writing. I have also updated my little Once Upon A Time fan comic, but only with something I made before this challenge began because I have sweet obligations. So there.
As I came home from the hubbub of work today, I found myself craving some foreign language. Yesterday, on the first day of the Foreign Language Only challenge, I began watching a Korean drama called Big and, two episodes in, I’m enjoying it very much. It’s been at least one year since I saw a good K-drama, and this one delivers all the drama and comedy. I have to be careful with my intake, though. If I watch too much of it, I’ll soon greet my co-workers with “안녕하세요!” (I don’t even know Korean, but I wish I did.) Watching something other than English/American materials is a great way to remove remaining dialogue and monologues from the workday and truly relax.
On the Sunday the 14th, the last day English was allowed, I binged on books, I admit, perhaps a little too much. Library due dates dictated what I read that afternoon. In the evening, I treated myself. My last meal was two helpings of Modern Family on TV, followed by a chapter of Ray Bradbury about feeding the Muse, and for dessert I flailed around in the video game Injustice: Gods Among Us.
Day One began well enough with Sailor Moon (the original), followed by some Naruto for shits and giggles. Reading subtitles so soon after waking up contributed to my growing migraine, so I won’t be doing that again. Sailor Moon will wait for another time of day.
This morning, I began watching Scrubs in German and discovered an original show called Stromberg that’s inspired by The Office. It appears Scrubs is better suited to my comedy level auf Deutsch because it’s more physical. I can’t complain; guess who gets to rewatch her favourite show! I’m looking forward to discovering Johnny the Tackling Alzheimer’s Patient and finding out whether he shouts “Wer bin ich?!” or something else in the English-to-German translation.
Scrubs, season (Staffel) 1, episode (Folge) 1:
Strombreg, Staffel 1, Folge 1:
So far, my brain hasn’t gotten too confused. There was a funny moment on Day One when my mother said, “Should I speak to you in another language for your challenge?” (She knows a little French.) “Sure,” I replied, not intending to listen to her either way. “Why not?” Immediately, my mother asked me something in French. Because I had just watched an episode in Japanese, I thought she was speaking French with thick Japanese accent.
All is quiet on the language front. Surprisingly, I find myself bored with the usual language learning message boards I used to frequent. This is good. This means my mind is opening to other forms of entertainment. Some of this entertainment includes catching myself replacing words in my mind with their German equivalent, but I did that long before this.
The actual challenge of this silly month is just beginning. I miss reading already, and won’t soon delve into my pile of novels and language books. When I pass a family member watching television, I find myself lingering to listen. Twice today, I’ve caught myself doing this as well as stopping by to hear headlines on the world news.
Should I continue watching the world news? So much is happening that I feel I should be paying attention to.