21 août 2008

Europe is too different

Caller's question (Los Angeles) :
"I was wondering if you think that foreign films if they had been made in English with no other differences would manage to find a broad audience in the US. I don't think so because of culture shock. The actors that we want the most often in the US outside of Americans are of course the British because of the language similarities. But the British culture is very different from ours and even then it could be a hard time making a translation. I think it would be really hard to translate French, Italian, Chinese or Japanese culture to a broad audience here. what do you think?"
Answer by Mick LaSalle : "I agree. There are some movies, if they were made in English, they would do rather well. But even then they would need some kind of adjustment. It would be different, the stars are different. There is different attitudes towards life. Although I do sometimes observe that there are some English language movies, were they subtitled, would actually get great reviews from critics but because they are not subtitled people don't appreciate them because they are American. [...] But even though just doing a direct translation would be in most cases a little bit of a jolt. The English they have a different culture but their values, the way of looking at life is much more similar to ours than the way the Italians look at life, and certainly the way the French look at life. I mean when you travel on the continent and then when you go the England for a couple days and it almost feel like you're home, it really does, and it's not just because they're speaking English. They don't stop to work at 2 o'Clock in the afternoon for 4 hours for absolutely no reason... and they just have a different way to look at life that is more similar to ours."
Podcast by Mick LaSalle at the San Francisco Chronicle (07-16-2008) it's in the first 3 minutes.

The old continent is too different from Americans, life style, language, culture... "cultural shock", "a bit of a jolt"... heck they are just like the Chinese! We grew apart in our own separate ways ever since you guys flee to the New World. Americans and Europeans, we are not the same people. Our cultures are so incompatible now that it is impossible to conceive watching our respective movies, even with a direct translation. Really the only way to comprehend European storylines for the broad American audience is the home-made remake. Even if the entire world sees no problem watching translated Hollywood blockbusters and loving them, it cannot possibly work the other way round, Americans CAN NOT understand a foreign culture, even the Brits! It's too far from what they are used to.
Way to go "broad American audience"! Bravo Mick LaSalle! That's indulgent nationalist self-suggestion at its best. Not to mention the discriminative stereotypes...

I admire the fact they even ask themselves this kind of question about subtitled foreign films though, given their scarcity on the American market, it's a moot point anyway... But I guess there are too many of them already if they become a worry.