Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Carrying watermelons

I first saw the movie Finding Nemo in French. It was at a cinema in Strasbourg known for showing movies in their original version with subtitles, so when we went to see Nemo I didn't think anything of it. Of course, being a children's movie it had been dubbed into French. Not that this was a problem in terms of comprehension for me, but in case you're wondering, no. It wasn't the same as it would have been in its original version. I remember whispering to my friend over halfway through, "Oh! I get it. The turtles are supposed to be Australian surfer dudes!" This was not conveyed very well in French, and it doesn't surprise me in the least.

Movies are always better in their original version, so you can hear the inflections of the voice. I'm not saying subtitles don't make a mockery of the dialogue, though. When my husband and I watch a French movie with English subtitles, I can't help but notice that someone will say something like, "Get out of here you limaceous endomorph! You make me sick!" and the subtitles will read "Leave now." At least they're not as bad as dubbed voiceovers though.

I was discussing this just today with a friend who informed me the plot of Dirty Dancing was subtly differerent when dubbed in French. When Baby delivers the classic line "I carried a watermelon" and then repeats it afterwards as though she can't believe how dumb she sounded, it's clear that she's already fallen hard for Johnny. But dubbed in French, she replies "Is it a crime to carry a watermelon?!" Not only have the words and the delivery changed, but with the change in language comes cultural imposition. French Baby doesn't go around making a fool of herself because she's madly in love with some unobtainable crush. French Baby is rather feisty.

To be honest, as a character I probably prefer French Baby, but she changes the original story. Anyway, I know I had my share of 'watermelon moments', and the original line at least makes me feel like a member of the 'I've just said something so pathetic I want to die' club, and I think we can all relate to that on some level.
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I am very glad NaBloPoMo is over for another year. Hurray!

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