Monday, July 30, 2007

Foreign Films

The last few films I have Netflixed have been foreign and most of the next ones are international as well. This, I think, says more about my lack of getting to the cinema when the films are released and the ease of home video distribution than about my taste in films.

I watch subtitled films differently than English language films. (On IFC a couple of weeks ago I saw a great film called The Ticket and it was subtitled even though it was largely in English because of the Scottish dialect.) To me power of the images and the emotion of the film comes through differently when not bogged down by the specifics of what the actors are saying.

Jim and I have edited a couple of foreign language films. The first was Serbian, the filmmaker returned to her devastated home country and toured Novi Sad, Belgrade and the small farm community where she grew up. While watching the dailies and having no idea what the people were saying, it was pretty easy to identify the powerful scenes. In addition to images of destruction two scenes that jump out at me are of an old man with only one eye and a handful of teeth telling us that this is their (Serbians) cycle of war and destruction. This scene was contrasted by a young woman in a church in Belgrade repairing a mosaic. She was as full of hope as the man was full of doom and gloom. Even though we didn't know what they were saying, you could tell from the images that it was important and should be in the film.

We also edited a film called The Music of Morocco and the Cycles of Life. In this case we made English, Arabic and French versions; and much like the Serbian film the important images and scenes were easily identified. From an editorial standpoint we just looked for scenes we liked and had the director talk us into the correct cutting points. In an odd way I learned a lot about cinema- the power of images- by editing a film in a foreign language. I hope to have that opportunity again.


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