How to Watch a Movie in Paris

Went to the movies with some friends. First surprise: no student discount today (it’s a Sunday, but I’m not sure that’s the reason for the discount ban). Second surprise: the price. My ticket was 10.50 €. Huge theater stuffed to the gills with plush seating.

We told the ticket seller what show we wanted and he told us it was sold out. Then he said he could give us two tickets but there were three of us.Then he gave us an “all-right, I-think-I-just-found-three-tickets-because-I’m-a-nice-guy” face. Like he did us a favor? What a pompous, ignorant fool.

I think all of this pre-movie chaos, including the 10 minute post-ticket purchase wait before entering the theatre and the second ticket check, had to do with the hordes of people flocking to see Avatar.

And the movie didn’t disappoint. A film critic isn’t something I aspire to be, so I won’t pretend to be one here. The movie was shown in the original language (it wasn’t dubbed) and there were French subtitles for the French moviegoers. But the movie was fantastic. There was still that old Hollywood cliché of the white male fighting to save the poor about-to-be-destroyed colored peoples. The much-maligned attempt of using white guilt to paint a picture that says, “things can change” while still maintaining and glorifying the all-important white male protagonist. But like I said, I don’t fancy myself a film critic.

There were a few funny moments in the movie, well, with the translation of the Na’vi language. The film was in English, but no one could understand the Na’vi language. Of course the Na’vi dialogue was translated into French, but there clearly wasn’t enough space for English subtitles so I had no idea what was being said. This occurred only a few times so it wasn’t so bad. Maybe I’ll go see it again to pick up what I missed. Too late to catch it in 3-D, so the Internet bootleg version will have to do. The movie was good. Long, but good.

As with all translations, there can be many expressions in one language that fall flat in another. It’s a messy business. So whenever the characters uttered any cultural references or used pithy dialogue laced with American humor, it didn’t translate well. Despite my limited grasp of the French language, I was able to discern that some American phrases just didn’t have the same juice in French. Some of the jokes didn’t offer the same tickle that they might’ve in the States. Or maybe my sense of humor is inferior to that of the French.

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