Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures


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EXT. RUE CHAMPOLLION – DAY

I derive a lot of pleasure from writing my Spanish screenplay, but I realized that so much negativity should be countered by something positive, so here’s my French screenplay about real things that happen to me which make me love France.

La_Filmothèque_Quartier_Latin

GIRL arrives at the Filmothèque du Quartier Latin an hour before the screening of BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID. She is the only person outside the closed cinema and pulls out her ebook to wait for the box office to open.

Three-quarters of an hour later, GIRL‘s still at the front of the line, now with ticket firmly in hand. There is a GAGGLE OF PEOPLE behind her, including one very distinctive OLD LADY, shoulders hunched, wearing a long teal wool coat. GIRL is still reading.

OLD LADY

What I like about Westerns is that the men are so handsome.

GIRL looks around to see who the woman is addressing and, seeing no possible candidates, thinks it might be her.

GIRL

Excuse me?

OLD LADY

The men, the men! There’s something about these men in Westerns that’s so… evocative of… men.

GIRL

Uh, yes. The men in Westerns are men.

OLD LADY

It’s not that other men aren’t available.

OLD LADY juts her jaw in the direction of the other line that’s formed, one for THE SOUND OF MUSIC. OLD LADY rolls her eyes.

OLD LADY

But some kinds of men just can’t be in a Western. I don’t have any use for those kinds.

GIRL

Well, you can’t do much better than the two in this movie. Newman and Redford were better looking in other pictures, maybe, but they’re almost perfect in this one. And it’s funny.

OLD LADY

Comedy! pftt! It’s THE MEN I’m talking about. The men!

GIRL

Well, I am not disagreeing. I agree with you. The men are something special.

The OLD LADY finally relaxes her shoulders and directly addresses GIRL for the first time.

OLD LADY

Yes! I’m glad you agree.

The matter settled, the OLD LADY smiles and gazes off into the distance. GIRL looks down and smiles too, but this time it’s the OLD LADY she’s appreciating, not the men.

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More movie / translation fun

Part of being an expat cinefile is figuring out how English movie titles are translated. As I mentioned yesterday, I am pretty good at this, partly because I have a vast amount of movie trivia in my head but also because I have a pretty firm grasp on translation. Sometimes, neither of these things are any good to me because the foreign title is way off the original. Here are some that have tripped me up (or amused me) over the years.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

TWO MEN ONE DESTINY is not a title I would ever give to this movie. Only for starters (because I don’t want to be here all day), I don’t think either man would have said they believed in destiny. They were train robbers who were always figuring out their next move just moments before they needed to make it. Grade: F

The Sound of Music

The Sound of Music

This is where I admit that I’m one of those people who doesn’t like THE SOUND OF MUSIC. I never saw it as a kid, so it didn’t imprint and, without the nostalgia factor, this film is empirically bad. Now that that’s out there, I will say that at least the original title is pulled from the lyrics of the opening song and SMILES AND TEARS doesn’t factor in any lyrics. Or make any sense, really. Grade: C (‘cause I don’t care)

Goodfellas

Goodfellas

This translation, ONE OF US, at least comes from the narration: “He’s one of us, you understand? We were good fellas. Wiseguys.” Weirdly, the title of the book is Wiseguy so this line encapsulates all versions of the title. Grade: B+

And finally, a perfect translation.

The Long Kiss Goodnight

The Long Kiss Goodnight

This is my favorite bad movie of all time. It’s got everything you’d ever want in a good movie, but amped up 1000 times and made all the more awesome for it. The French title reflects this, as it’s 1000 times more awesome than the movie. “Au revoir” means “goodbye” as everyone knows, but its original sense was “until we re-see each other” so this title is basically UNTIL WE SEE EACH OTHER AGAIN, WHICH’LL BE NEVER. The movie is saying F-you to everyone and I love it. Grade: A++