Saturday, January 30, 2010

Read a Good Movie Lately?

Beer Update: There is only one liter left from the first batch of home brew. That bottle needs to get emptied, so I can get the second batch bottled tomorrow. I'm sure that I can take care of it somehow.

We got a bit of winter weather around here yesterday evening, so I skipped the regularly-scheduled neighborhood gathering. El saw her plans canceled due to the weather, so we stayed home and watched DVDs. One of the DVDs recently delivered from Netflix was The Lives of Others, a 2006 film from Germany. The setting for the movie is East Germany several years prior to the fall of the Berlin wall. The plot of involves a playwright named Georg Dreyman and the intelligence officer from the state security agency, known as the Stasi, whose assignment is to listen in on Dreyman and his girlfriend in their bugged apartment. While monitoring and reporting on the couple, the officer, who is also a professor at the Stasi training school, gets caught up in their lives.

The playwright Dreyman is played by Sebastian Koch who I recognized from a Dutch film that we saw a few months ago. In Black Book, Koch played a Nazi SS officer during World War II. He is the target of a spy for the Dutch resistance whose family had been gunned down by German soldiers while she and they were trying to escape from the Nazi-occupied country. The black book from the title of the film contains the list of Jews that an informant has turn over to Nazis.

I think both The Lives of Others and Black Book fall into the spy or political thriller category, and I enjoyed both movies. However, both films are in German (and Dutch for Black Book), so we watched them with English subtitles. The problem that I (and I think most people) have with subtitles is that I am busy reading the dialog instead of actually watching the movie. I end up feeling that I missed a large part of the movie. A lot of DVDs offer the option of overdubbing, but I find the mismatch between the actors and their overdubbed voices even more distracting and annoying than subtitles. Regardless of subtitles or overdubbing, I am sure that some of the dialog gets mixed up in the translation to English, the same way that some of the jokes, puns and snappy one-liners from American movies must get garbled when those films are translated from English to other languages.

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