this space intentionally left blank

September 7, 2005

Filed under: movies»commentary»translation

Observations after watching The Grudge in Spanish

(don't ask)

  • Where it's at: Isn't it amazing that they made a movie set in Japan, based on a Japanese film and a fictionalized Japanese folklore, and yet it somehow has no actual Japanese people in anything other than bit parts? How can we explain this away? Are Americans really that challenged by Asian actors in film?
  • Dub this: I can't decide if localization into other languages is just lazy or incompetent. Why, in a movie already dubbed into Spanish, does Ted Raimi's character complain that he only speaks it a little? Why did they leave the English-for-Japanese subtitles at the bottom, and change the spoken Japanese to Spanish (thus making several scenes look either very foolish and disjointed)?
  • Joke that never gets old: "Man, Sarah Michelle Gellar's Spanish is fantastic."
  • Gimme lo-fi: In the original Japanese version of this movie, the effects were terrible. Nevertheless, it was a lot scarier than this. Why were so many great images cut? The entire subplot about the policeman's daughter and her undead schoolgirl pals is gone, presumably to make more room for Bill Pullman. I like Bill Pullman, but I like zombie schoolgirls more.
  • Una vista muy clara: Watching the movie in another language makes you pay more attention to the cinematography. A very effective device (and one that's very particular to Japanese horror--Miike uses it a lot, for example) is a close camera framing that remains completely stationary. It creates a lot of tension, possibly because the viewer really wants the camera to look elsewhere as the music rises, and it refuses. This can be very evocative of certain dream-logic, where your body refuses to follow your orders.
  • Do I frighten you? The monochromatic image of a woman with long black hair, combined with odd bodily movements, is still very striking, but it's also getting a little old. Let's find a new freakish visual, shall we?

Future - Present - Past