Monday, June 23, 2014

The Polyglot’s Guide to Foreign Films, Part 2: How to View a Foreign Film

Hello, everyone.  It's time for the second installment of The Polyglot's Guide to Foreign Films, where I give you some helpful hints for making your international cinema viewing all the more enjoyable.  In today's edition, I offer some helpful hints for watching a foreign films.

Foreign films should be approached differently than films in your native tongue.  You have to be an active participant in the viewing process when you’re watching a foreign film; you have to read the subtitles while attempting to watch the action and follow the development of plot.  God forbid the film is experimental! 

In order to prevent you from having a nervous breakdown while trying to make your way through a Goddard box set, I have some tips for making your viewing experience as entertaining as it is edifying. 

Spend the First Quarter of the Film Paying Attention to the Subtitles: Spend the first part of the film paying closer attention to the subtitles; this will allow you to get a feel for the basic plot as well as who the characters are.  Once you have worked out the film's basic plot and characters, you can begin to pay less attention to the subtitles and more attention to the action on the screen.  Believe it or not, you probably won't miss a lot by watching the film's action alone.  Most languages are gestural or rely heavily on inflection which are easy to pick up on even if you don't speak the language.

Stick with a Genre you Enjoy: If you know you love horror films in English, it might be a good idea to watch some foreign horror films.  Your infinity for a genre will more than likely traverse the language barrier.  Also, if you stick to a genre you enjoy, you're already committed (at least in part) to the film by virtue of your affinity.  

Avoid a Busy Environment: Because you'll need to concentrate more on a foreign film than a domestic film, it is a good idea to wait until your viewing space is quiet before you begin watching.  I can tell you, from personal experience, there is nothing more aggravating that to get lost in a film because someone keeps yelling/interrupting/talking/crying/yelling/ ad infinium.

Embrace Spoilers: If you are not the type to get aggravated by spoilers, it wouldn't be a bad idea to read the plot summary of a film on IMDB, particularly for a film that is notoriously difficult or mind bending.  Quite frankly, no one will think lesser of you if your had to read the plot summary of Through a Glass Darkly.  In fact, no one will know you even looked at the summary unless you tell them!

What strategies have you used to improve your foreign film viewing experience? 

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