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Lost in translation?

I take it as a positive sign that the Simpsons will be heading to the Middle East (albeit with a beer-less and bacon-less Homer) but I have to wonder how successful it will be.

Culturally-bound humor is hard to translate. When I lived in Paris, I saw Robert Townsend's Hollywood Shuffle in a small theater once. By the end of the movie, every French person in the building had walked out. The French normally like quirky, indie movies, but some things are just impossible to translate.

I remember one line in particular. It was after Winkie Dinkie Dog had his nervous breakdown and decided to diversify into the ho-cake business. "I'm gonna make ho-cakes!" he said, "cuz ho's gots to eat too!" This bit of ghetto wit was translated in the subtitles as something along the lines of "I shall make crêpes, because prostitutes must eat as well!"

You see the problem with this kind of thing. The audience was utterly mystified.

It makes you think, though. For example, did you ever stop to wonder whether Ingmar Bergmen's films were really so enigmatic and esoteric as we thought? I mean, what if they're actually completely pedestrian and transparent, but simply poorly translated from the Swedish? Maybe all the stuff we interpret as veiled commentary on life and death and God were actually discussions over how best to prepare lutefisk or something.


I will not consort with unclean infidels
I will not consort with unclean infidels
I will not consort with unclean infidels
I will not consort with unclean infidels
I will not consort with uncle

I agree with you on the Ingmar Bergman thing. To me, "The Seventh Seal" was much funnier than Monty Python's English Language remake "The Holy Grail."

I thought that not actually showing the seals was absolutely inspired, even though I love watching seals balancing beach balls on their noses.

That's only because you've seen Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure a few too many times.

I'm sorry, Barry, but I actually had to sit through Scenes from a Marriage for a Sociology class, and it was four of the most excruciating hours I'd spent in a movie theatre since sitting through The Sorrow and the Pity in high school.

I don't think Bergman is esoteric, just dull.

Don't be dissin' Bill and Ted. I learned more about history from that movie than I learned in six years of high school! Admittedly, I might have learned a bit more if I had stayed on for 11th and 12th grade.

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