French Translations or How the Irish Mafia’s Got Jack

We saw THE DEPARTED last night. The first half hour was a little slow but everything after was really good. The Frenchman is something of an expert on Scorcese from his film journalism days. He says Scorcese is parodying himself in it. The acting was totally brilliant. I love it when they let Jack Nicholson loose as a nutjob with blood up to his elbows. Ditto for anything where Leonardo DiCaprio gets tortured (although his acting was truly exceptional). The only real weak moment was where they violated a very basic tenet of forensics and had Matt Damon’s character explain it away badly in a single sentence. I wanted to slap someone. Hard. With a strappy shoe.

I also told Neil about a weird thing I found in the coupon book for Video Futur, the chain of video rental stores we rent from here. Every month they offer a new coupon, like rent one get one free, and on the back of each coupon they print the summary of an upcoming film. For June, they had a summary for STARDUST, but the summary of the story was odd. They said that the film was about a young man named Tristan who lived in a town divided by a wall: one side mundane and the other magical. Tristan had fallen in love with a girl on the magical side, who demanded he get her a star to win her affections. I asked Neil if they’d mangled his book in the screenwriting process, but he says it’s apparently just the French getting things “interestingly wrong.”

Not surprising. When I was last in the video rental place, I noticed all kinds of strange translations of titles. Take THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, for example. The French have crafted a new title, L’ETRANGE NOEL DE MONSIEUR JACQUE. What the hell? How about a direct translation, such as LE CAUCHMAR AVANT NOEL? Apparently there are all kinds of marketing issues when translating titles, but what a stinky compromise.

A little writing happened this weekend, but the serious work recommences tomorrow. Hoorah!

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