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.
Foreign films are your friends. No, really! There seem to be negative thoughts on foreign films in general, or any movie that involves subtitles for its entire duration. In my short life, this is what I’ve gathered. Why is this so? It could be the actual act of reading subtitles. It could be the separation of text/speech and action. It could also be a false idea that foreign films are uber (über?) serious or abstract.
After watching Amador, I begin to wonder if all movies from other countries had depressing people and plots. Where are the storylines that make you feel good? Is Hollywood so different from everyone else? No. There are plenty of intense films everywhere.
If we’re intelligent enough to read this post, we can surely read a few subtitles. If subtitles become tedious, watch the acting and the body language. If everything looks too serious, remember that sometimes sarcasm is lost in translation.
Alias Betty was pretty darn good. As it was somewhat of a thriller, of course it was a little serious, but one needn’t read too many subtitles to understand both the basic and complex human instincts. The night after seeing it, I had a dream about finding a place to live with little José, except, instead of Betty, I was Ledger’s Joker sans make-up and we had to hide in Gotham. (Your author need not go at length to explain how she needs to lay off the Batman. It’s becoming evident that a whole month of other media will not help her brain be cleansed.)
Just like last week, this one has passed too quickly. The difference, however, is my experience with language altogether. While working on my novel, I’m able to concentrate better. It’s as if shoving English materials into my closet (quite literally) for the time being has given my thoughts a reboot. That’s not to say there aren’t still temptations.
I have weaned myself off of Starcraft for the twentieth time this year. There are some nights when my brother finds no end to funny images to show me via Imgur. I’ll have to make him postpone these showings for a few weeks.
Language is everywhere, and it’s not always a good thing. Advertisements will always be annoying and, for some reason, we believe it makes them inescapable. Not so! I’ll listen to them in Spanish instead, suckers! Wait, but… but then… damn, they still got me.
I’ve already become bored with my library’s selection of “foreign” music. Most of it consists of compilation CDs that are supposed to represent an entire country. Many of these songs are in English. I’ll have to now rely on Classical or Spanish radio in the car and unofficial Youtube videos at home.
Speaking of videos, let me show you one more. This is an instrumental piece from Gangs of New York. I first saw this movie in high school, after I’d been a fan of Irish music for several years. Buying the sound track and listening obsessively introduced me to fusion-like music from other parts of the world, particularly Africa. (Afterwards, I got into folk and everything else went downhill.) Since then, I’ve learned that each bit of music is the gateway to other styles. This song popped up on my FLOM playlist today.
Next time I do this challenge, it will have to happen when I’m not living with my immediate family. Their habits fill the house, and so I’d like to try this again without the constant flow of muffled Dragnet, Perry Mason, and The Nanny. Not that I’m saying these shows are bad. They just seem like a dull nuisance right now. I would also like to watch an entire movie in one sitting without hearing my mother complain about what the characters are doing. “Why are they yelling?” Because their Italian. Or because they’re cops chasing a bad guy. Or because they’re Italian cops chasing a very, very bad guy.
I’ll be reading more novels. See you next week!
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.