This week's movie topic is all about Subtitles...

Carleen @ Life, Liberty & Good Coffee recently suggested the topic of subtitles. We aim to please here at the Monday Movie Meme so here you go Carleen! We don't watch a lot of foreign films. Part of the reason is that Molly grew up with a Dad who liked to read the words on the screen out loud which got old really fast. But the bigger reason is that it takes a while to adjust to skimming the words while trying not to miss out on any of the images - so maybe having Dad narrate wasn't such a bad idea after all. It makes watching movies feel like work sometimes, but of the few we have seen, they have been worth the effort. Share some of the subtitles worth reading on your blog and link back to The Bumbles. And don't forget to visit your fellow participants!

  • El Norte (1983) -- Spanish: I first saw this film in an International Communications class in 1986, but it left such a lasting impression on me that I have since seen it multiple times. The members of a Mayan peasant community in Guatemala, tired of being used and abused as manual laborers, organize a revolt. The Guatemalan army discovers them, massacres the people, and destroys the village. A pair of teenage siblings, a brother and sister, who barely escape the brutality, set off for a better life in El Norte (the North), America. With the secret help of friends and advice from an "expert" on immigration stratgeies on how to behave when traveling through Mexico, the pair make their way to El Norte. But building a life in Los Angeles as uneducated, unsophisticated, and illegal immigrants proves both difficult and tragic for them.
  • Raise the Red Lantern (1992) -- Chinese: This movie is one that I listed previously as the movie I recommend the most. Set in 1920's China, it tells the story of Songlian, a 19 year old girl who is forced to marry a powerful man 31 years her senior who already has three wives. As she tries to establish her place in the hierarchy of the family, Songlian soon learns that the competition among the wives to have the red lantern, which signals the house where the husband will spend the night, lit in front of hers leads to jealousy, treachery, and insanity.
  • Al-Aragoz (1989) -- Arabic: Most of us know Omar Sharif from his role in Funny Girl, and that's where I first saw him, too. But by the time Omar Sharif made that movie, he was already a famous star in his native Egypt and in the later years of his life, he has returned to his roots and is once again making movies in his homeland and native language. Al-Aragoz is, by far, his best role ever. In this film, Sharif plays a peasant father who hangs tightly to his principles in rural Egypt while his son is seduced by the power and corruption found in Cairo. Mohammed, a widower with one much beloved son, is a puppeteer whose performances tell of Nasser's socialist revolution. Because no sacrifice is too great for his son's future, Mohammed sends him to the university in Cairo at great expense and emotional sacrifice. But Bahlool falls in with the wrong crowd in the big city, is taken under the wing of a corrupt pasha whose daughter he marries, and sets his sights on a seat in the Parliament. Mohammed struggles to understand the changes he sees in his son and tries desperately to rekindle the sense of ethics that he had taught Bahlool until his son's behavior endangers the life of Mohammed's new wife. No matter how many times I watch this movie, the tragedy of the disintegration of the father/son relationship makes me cry every single time.
  • The Scent of Green Papaya (1994) -- Vietnamese: As a little girl, Mui is sent as a servant to live with a family that has recently lost a young daughter. The matriarch of the family sees in Mui a surrogate child and believes that, although Mui remains a servant, she has treated the young girl as her own. But ten years later, Mui, now a young woman, is sent to be the servant to a music teacher who has a fiancee. A relationship blossoms between the teacher and Mui; he teaches her how to read and write, giving her the freedom to experience life as a literate member of society. Cinderella style, the servant girl gets her Prince Charming.
  • Iphigenia (1977) -- Greek: This movie introduced me to the world of international films and subtitles. Although it's no longer my favorite among the many I have seen, it's one that I still enjoy a great deal. Iphigenia is the daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. When Helen is taken to Troy by Paris, the armies of Greece gather to restore honor to her husband, Agamemnon's brother, Menelaus of Sparta. As they wait on the shore for the wind to blow strongly enough to carry their ships across the sea, Agamemnon tries to provide them all with food to build their strength. He accidentally kills a sacred deer, which angers the gods. His atonement, the sacrifice Agamemnon must make in order to get the winds blowing, is the life of his daughter, Iphigenia.
  • Pan's Labyrinth (2006) -- Spanish: Post WWII, a young girl with a love of fairytales, moves to the north of Spain with her pregnant mother and her new husband, a Spanish army captain. She builds a fantasty world of her own to help her cope with the harsh realities of the brutality of life in Fascist Spain.
  • Amelie (2001) -- French: Amelie is a young woman on a mission. After returning a long-lost childhood treasure to its original owner and seeing how happy it makes him, Amelie determines to make others happy as well. Her adventures are funny and poignant, and she finds love along the way with a quirky guy who collects discarded photobooth pictures.
Films with subtitles are a great way to experience life and culture in places we may only hear about on the news. They are also a fantastic way to see how very many things we have in common with the people whose stories they tell!

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4 Responses
  1. Oo! More movies to add to my netflix queue! Of those you mention, I have only seen Pan's Labyrinth and Amelie. Both great movies.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Well I haven't seen any of those movies. But I do enjoy reading them. I have my close captioning on all the time on my TV so i wouldn't have any problem with a subtitle movie if I could just stay awake through it LOL

  3. kayerj Says:

    I'm going to have to check out a few of those titles. Pan's Labrynth seems popular. my Monday movie

  4. The Bumbles Says:

    I just wanted to thank you for the great topic - we've added so many films to our queue that we forgot about or had never heard of. Your last point in your post is very true about this genre - well said!

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