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David Nguyen
David Nguyen

Alfie Subtitles English



As you watch the video, look at the examples of the present simple. They are in red in the subtitles. Then read the conversation below to learn more. Finally, do the grammar exercises to check you understand, and can use, the present simple tense.




Alfie subtitles English



As you watch the video, look at the examples of have got. They are in red in the subtitles. Then read the conversation below to learn more. Finally, do the grammar exercises to check you understand, and can use, have got correctly.


Although language has always been an integral part of movies, ithas never acquired the status that it enjoys in other multi-media projects inwhich it is often a self-sufficient component of the art. Unlike the scriptof a play, which is often extracted from the drama and read as a literarytext, or the verse of an illuminated poem, which is frequently reproducedwithout the accompanying visual design, cinematic speech appears to lackautonomy. It is generally viewed as an incomplete text--at best, the skeletonof a movie--and, on occasion, is doubly augmented: first, by the standardimagetrack, and then, by another visual track. What follows is an examinationof two conspicuous bolsters to cinematic speech: subtitles and pantomime.Although each enters the film at a different stage of the production, bothare enlisted as visual supplements to speech to make it more accessible.Their presence in a film underscores the lack of parity between word andimage in film, and shows how in some instances the spoken word is onlytolerated when converted into a visible sign.


Although film is not often thought of as having a textualcomponent, it has never been entirely free from verbal inscription. In theearly days of cinema, printed titles were interpolated into films at keymoments to provide coherence or emphasis to the pantomime. They were notsuperimposed onto the visual montage, even when they reiterated the silentspeech of an actor, but were flashed onto separate, blank frames, often aftera character had spoken or an action had taken place. When speech wasintroduced into film, the written word continued to loiter on the silverscreen, though it was relegated to the margins of the film, announcing thetitle of the movie at the beginning and the credits at the end. Writingrecuperated its prominence in cinema when film again became a commodity inthe international market and required subtitles in order to find an audienceamong foreign viewers. But while the intratitles of silent movies signalledthe limitations of the filmmakers who could not convey everything throughvisual narrative, subtitles have operated as a persistent reminder thatviewers are linguistically deficient, requiring a filter to access the movie.Since titles block out a portion of the screen, they create a literalobstruction and declare that, thanks to our lack of fluency in the languageof the film, we do not get the whole picture, literally or figuratively. Likeall translation, subtitles colonize the original film and convert the speechinto the idiom of the translator. Since viewers know that titles have beentacked onto a completed film, their appearance on the screen as spontaneousparaphrase of speech is suspect. At those moments when the titles arenoticeably out of sync with the speech, they take on an editorial character,as if the translator were summing up speech as she heard it. Although at somelevel subtitles literally foreground the universality of human experience,they are also a subtle gesture of aesthetic imperialism.


The threat of cultural hegemony posed by subtitles is parodied inthe movie Airplane. In one scene, subtitles are added to translate aconversation between two jive-talking passengers into "StandardEnglish." The subtitles, however, do not merely translate the hip,African American lingo; they transpose it into white, middle-class jargon.When, for example, the first speaker says, "Shit, man, that honky mustbe messin my old lady-got me runnin cold upside down his head," thesubtitles read, "Golly that white man should stay away from my wife or Iwill punch him."


In a recent film, mistranslated speech provides not only levityfor viewers but a moment of sublimity as well. Life is Beautiful shows afather's attempt to shield his young son from the horrors of a Germanconcentration camp in which they are both captive. When a German guard entersthe barracks of Italian prisoners, the father volunteers to translate hisorders to the other prisoners, one of whom is his son. Unbeknownst to theunilingual guard, the father transposes the severe directives into playfulcommands, as though he were describing the rules of a game. Viewers of thefilm experience the exhilaration of seeing a sadistic guard disempowered byhis cultural insularity, his total reliance on the German tongue. For foreignviewers, the momentary euphoria is heightened by the subtitles which by theirvery nature as a technical auxiliary to the film, are outside of the realm ofthe soldier's comprehension. On another level, the silence of thesubtitles accentuates the Nazi's self-imposed cultural deafness.


Although translation can run the gamut from merely being awkwardto actually falsifying speech, in most films, subtitles provide the gist ofwhat the characters say, in the spirit in which they say it. For those of uswho are not polylingual, they are a godsend. Moreover, they mitigate flaws inthe speech. Virgil Grillo and Bruce Kawin note the viewers' cooperationin "the modulation of the content of the original language version"of a subtitled movie, pointing out that "we extend our tolerance for thekinds of things people say in books to what the characters say in foreignmovies" (28). Nevertheless, titles act upon the original film in waysthat exceed translation. Along with supplying an alternative to speech forthose who are not fluent in the language of the film (as spoofed inAirplane), they also take on the character of a latent text. Even though theyappear simultaneously with speech, they have retained the belated nature ofthe printed titles in silent movies. Detached from the visual montage andforegrounded on the screen, subtitles emerge as a subliminal voice in theart. They occupy the lower part of the frame, are usually positioned belowthe speaker's mouth, and are silent, as if they were indeed a represseddiscourse. Technically, they exist independently of the characters andactions on the screen, and seem to appear involuntarily, much in the way thatslips of the tongue erupt in conversation.


In Annie Hall, Woody Allen exploits the seemingly repressed natureof subtitles during the scene in which Alfie, a neurotic urbanite, firstmeets Annie, an unsophisticated Midwesterner with anti-Semitic roots. Theirencounter seems like a social accident, but subtitles reveal their commonground of mutual insecurity by exposing the subtext of their conversation.When, for example, Annie says, "I would like to take a seriousphotography course," the subtitles read, "He probably thinksI'm a yo-yo." When Alfie replies, "Photography is interestingbecause, you know, it's a new art form and a set of aesthetic criteriahas not emerged yet," according to the subtitles he is really saying,"I wonder what she looks like naked." Annie Hall thus shows bycomical exaggeration how subtitles disturb the very component they areenlisted to help, namely, speech. Though speech is an outward expression, itseems to be interior to the speaker. Subtitles violate this intimacy bywresting speech from the speaker, freezing it, and displaying it for theaudience, albeit for only a moment. Since subtitles appear without theconsent or even the knowledge of the speaker, it is easy enough to take themas expressions of repressed thought.


During a movie, speech has an omniscient quality. Although werecognize it emanating from a particular character, it seems to fill thescreen and, in spite of its invisibility, commands the viewer'sattention, sometimes at the expense of the visual scene. Subtitles, on theother hand, occupy a fixed location on the screen and create a visual staticby interfering with the picture. While reading is generally a private,self-paced activity, in subtitled films, the audience engages in a collectivereading in which an invisible hand "turns the page." By mediatingbetween the soundtrack and imagetrack, subtitles give form to disembodiedspeech and, in so doing, negotiate a verbal manifestation that lies inbetween speech and writing.


In the subtitled version of Krzysztof Kieslowski's Red, thesubtitles create a mutation of the original movie through the colonizationand repression described above. The overriding theme of the film is fate, andKieslowski explores that theme through parallel stories, each of which isgoverned by a different semiotic. The central narrative, which tracks thepaths of two people who repeatedly miss making contact with each other, istold silently through images. Whether their failure to meet is arbitrary ordetermined is a mystery that the film never quite solves; indeed, the filmdramatizes the deconstructive nature of fate by arguing simultaneously thatthings just happen and that things happen for a reason. The other story,which centers around the friendship between a retired judge and a youngmodel, is almost entirely discursive. As the movie progresses, the twonarratives gradually converge, and we discover that the life of the judge isbeing replayed through the life of the young law student. This theme of thereincarnation of the living describes the uneasy relationship that subtitleshave to speech and invites us to see the subtitled version of Red as ametatext.


Kieslowski deepens the theme by depicting the judge as apersonification of fate. The principal activity in which this judge isengaged, both professionally and personally, is eavesdropping. While on thebench, like all judges, he lawfully eavesdrops on the lives of others; uponhis retirement, he unlawfully listens in on private telephone conversations.Through both activities he determines the fate of other people. Once again,the subtitled version of Red illustrates the semiotic dimension of the themeby showing how subtitles, which eavesdrop on speech, have a deterministicrole in the film. Although subtitles are an afterthought to a completed film,they intrude upon the film like a boorish, uninvited guest. Notwithstandingthe ease with which subtitles become integrated into the film proper, theythreaten to disrupt the visual-oral sign system of cinema. They are notaligned exclusively to either the soundtrack or the imagetrack since theyoperate as visualized sound. As such, they impose yet another track on theviewer that literally runs interference with the imagetrack when it blocksout a portion of the picture. This track also diminishes the role of thesoundtrack since for the foreign viewer, subtitles replace speech. In spiteof their silence, they seem louder than the spoken word and morestraightforward than the visual image, thereby giving viewers the sense thatthey can hear and overhear speech all at once. 041b061a72


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