Teaching In Socks


Subtitled Explosions
February 10, 2009, 5:32 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I went to go see a movie with my friends the other week. The offerings at most movie theaters are similar to the selections at the rental shop; about 50% Japanese and 50% English. However, it should be noted that often the Japanese release date for a foreign film is several months behind the European and American openings. So, while I got to pick the movie, my options were “Quantum of Solace”, “Che: Part II”, and “The Day the Earth Stood Still”.

I had already seen “Quantum of Solace”, and I knew “The Day the Earth Stood Still” wasn’t worth watching (and I don’t even really dislike Keanu). I didn’t have a lot of confidence in Che, but I know from experience and good Benicio Del Toro performance can make a film, and the prospect of the Cuban revolution promised some cool explosions.

I was also relieved that we were seeing a movie a week before the opening of “Mama Mia”. My companions, both girls, offered no complaints about my selection of Che; however, had we been there a week later I might of found myself outnumbered and on the wrong side of an anti-ABBA argument. In such a case, I would have to start my own revolution against the ABBAstablishtment (sigh, I know, but I’m too proud to remove this pun).

Free of watching Glenn Close (or is it Meryl Stree?p) and “former James Bond” dance around like idiots for two hours intermittently between horrible dialog and ridiculous plot points, I thought fortune was on my side. After buying the tickets though, a question occurred to me, “How authentic a depiction are they going for in this Che flick? Could it be so realistic that they might have him and the other characters speak Spanish?” This question then lead to another question, “If they’re speaking Spanish, and I’m in Japan, will the subtitles be in Japanese?”. Holding my ridiculously overpriced ticket in my hands, I realized I was possibly in for two hours of complete foreign language  immersion–a reality confirmed approximately six seconds into the movie.

It wasn’t terrible. I remembered some of the “functional Spanish” I picked up on my vacations to Spain and Mexico.  It wasn’t enough for me to be able to give an accurate review of the movie, but I can say there were a decent number of explosions.

I told my students this story and actually several of them who later saw the movie came back the next week to tell me that in their theater there were groups of presumeably English-speaking foriegners who walked out of the movie within the first five minutes, presumably ambushed by the language barrier.

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