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31 December 2007 @ 10:06 am
Lost in Translation... from English to English  
Every time a book or movie from the UK gets re-titled for its US release, there's inevitably a barrage of online commentary about how "American media dumbs stuff down", or, even more contemptuously, how stuff has to be "dumbed down" for narrow, provincial, red-state-dominated 'Mericans.

Funny how nobody ever says anything when a US film is retitled in the UK.

Yesterday, quelonzia and I watched the 2001 murder mystery, The Caveman's Valentine. The movie stars Samuel L. Jackson as a paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave in Central Park. One frosty Valentine's Day morning, he finds a frozen body on his "doorstep". Of course, he's certain that this is tied into his own delusional world-view, and is determined to find out what really happened.

The title is perfect: both poetic and descriptive. The theme of Valentine's Day and the body of the victim as a "Valentine" recurs throughout the movie.

In the UK, it was released on video as The Sign of the Killer.

I cannot think of a more banal, colorless, generic, dumbed-down title.

(I know that the UK doesn't celebrate the middle of February with the tree-killing orgy of greeting cards we strew about in the Untidy States, but a quick Wikipedia search shows that there are local traditions.)
I feel: annoyedannoyed
"And I realized I did want a drink, after all.": bridgetcircuit_four on December 31st, 2007 07:56 pm (UTC)
How was the film, anyhow? It seems right up my alley, but I kept letting it get pushed down my priority list by lukewarm reviews. I'd take your opinion over a critic's, though, especially 'cause it sounds like one of those "if you didn't grasp it, please don't review it" films -- like a critic who gripes that Eraserhead moved too slow and all the dialogue was really banal. ;p
Your Obedient Serpent: big ideasathelind on January 1st, 2008 01:40 am (UTC)
I enjoyed it a great deal. I found it engaging, I found Jackson entirely convincing, I loved the way they visualized his state of mind from his point of view, and I loved the way the whodunit got entangled in his paranoid delusions.

They managed to center a movie around a paranoid schizophrenic homeless man without either playing him for laughs or making him the Wise Fool/Magical Negro, which is a really, really impressive accomplishment. Rom's world is a scary place, and his condition hasn't brought him anything but pain.

Plus, Moth Seraphs. You gotta make Peggy watch it just for Moth Seraphs.
"And I realized I did want a drink, after all."circuit_four on January 1st, 2008 02:34 am (UTC)
Ooh. OK, this has gone from a maybe to a yes. Thank you!
Ursula Messerschmitt: Bear-BRAINSsnobahr on December 31st, 2007 08:29 pm (UTC)
And here, I thought you were going to discuss how some companies dub British videos (which are in English) to American English, like was done with The Worst Witch. Apparently, somebody felt that a show that takes place in England shouldn't have English accents or something.

For me, it's a serious case of WTF.

A.R.M.: dapperkinkyturtle on December 31st, 2007 10:57 pm (UTC)
I think it's more a case of the English accents being too thick for some Americans to decipher. In which case, I wish they'd just have subtitles.
Your Obedient Serpentathelind on January 1st, 2008 01:44 am (UTC)
Well, sometimes you have to add fart jokes.

(This is a particularly ironic example, since Doogal is the US redub of a UK movie based on a much-beloved UK children's show -- that was in itself a redub of a French children's show, with the dub scripts made from whole cloth because the original producers didn't bother to provide translated scripts.

(But still. Fart jokes.)

Edited at 2008-01-01 01:45 am (UTC)
Ursula Messerschmittsnobahr on January 1st, 2008 04:28 am (UTC)
As a child, I loved visiting my British grandparents, because that meant I got to see episodes of The Magic Roundabout. I got a playset based on same when I was about 3 or 4, with a little wind-up train, and several of the characters. It was nifty. Doogal was the coolest figure of them all, and I used to go to sleep with it.

BoyZilla enjoys watching the Doogal movie, and identifies Mr. Blue Sky as the Doogal song.

A random lazy cattwentythoughts on January 1st, 2008 12:52 am (UTC)
They do this in Norway, too, strangely... Translate English titles into worse English titles. The movie "Man's Best Friend" (about a really mean dog) got translated into "Deadly Weapon". And "Six-string Samurai" (wonderful little B-movie) got translated into... "Samurai Sword".
Hafochafoc on January 1st, 2008 03:44 am (UTC)
I used to buy into British intellectual superiority. But then I started to see reruns of The Goodies and Benny Hill.