‘But you must have watched French films?!’ cried my French teacher . ‘It should be a major part of your cultural understanding and language learning!’
Well yes. I would love to seem cultured and have highfalutin, in depth discussions about the fabulous foreign films that I can now watch in their original language……but that would be a big fat lie.
I thought about it. It turns out that, in my lifetime, I have watched exactly 4 French films. Yes, only four. Even though I have been living in a French-speaking nation for two and a half years.
Cultured and highfalutin I ain’t.
Of those four films: One was Amelie (so I am not sure it counts), one starred the woman from Four Weddings (again dubious), one was by accident, when my Netflix (loving borrowed from my brother in the UK) inexplicably turned French and I ended up watching some school kid spend 2 hours getting worked up about his BAC exam and finally one that I watched immediately after said French class, in a sea of guilt and enthusiasm, called L’homme du train. Can you guess what it was about?
Of these four films, I am rather embarrassed to admit that I have fallen asleep in at least two.
Falling asleep in films is not that much of a rare occurrence for me.
Until this day, I still do not know why Adam Driver was in all the advertising for the last Star Wars movie. To my knowledge, he did not appear at any point during the film (which is possibly for the best, as I am not sure I could take any super-villain, who I have seen in compromising positions (in Girls), seriously).
However, this phenomenon does seem to be heightened when I have subtitles to deal with, so I suspect my route toward culturedness still has quite a few miles to go……
To counteract this cultural dearth, I decided to try something new.
I went to the cinema.
OK, the cinema in English, but still the cinema in English in France with French subtitles.
For a few months now, I have held the information that on a Sunday night, at 20.05, the cinema in central Noumea shows certain films in VO or version originale. I have been waiting for the right film and the right people to share in this experience and recently I found it!
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 in VO!
Space comedy, mild violence, banging 80s soundtrack, not bad reviews for a sequal, a tree man, a green lady, a talking racoon and Chris Pratt Mark 2 (the abs version). What’s not to like?
But what a lot to spoil by dubbing.
I found some willing volunteers to join me on my quest for sleep-free non-French French Cinema and we quickly hatched a plan involving dinner (thank you Karen) and cinema funtimes.
We arrived at the cinema in good time and bought our tickets (sorry boys and girls this cinema only takes cash and cheques). The ticket seller double checked that we wanted to see it in English. We joined, or rather, jumped the queue finding our fellow Anglophone friends (and quite a lot of my students) and were happily assured of our next few hours of action-filled entertainment, sans ‘Je suis Grooot’.
The cinema was nice, chairs comfy and we all settled in, slightly aware that we were the only people speaking English in a cinema that was about to show an English film.
The adverts were in French, but we were still optimisitic.
The film started. Earth 1988. Yep English. Soundtrack English. Yes. Girl singing, English. Yes. Girl and man run into a wood…….
Are they speaking Alien? That would be a realistic plot line?
Oh no…. that is definitely French.
What do we do now? Check tickets, yep….definitely in the right place. 6 people get up.
Did they forget the popcorn? Or are they disgruntled?
More French, more people leave.
Phil takes one for the team and runs down to the office.
The titles run, and yes, Je suis Groot makes an appearance. Chris Pratt sounds like he is on helium. The characters may as well be speaking alien as it becomes increasingly clear that two hours of this is not going to be good.
A woman reenters. Apparently the language is not going to change any time soon. We leave to investigate (and find Phil).
Turns out it was a ‘scheduling error’ (odd seen as the only show VO at the same time each week) and the woman that presses the buttons to make the movies work has gone home for the day. It cannot be changed. It’s French or nothing.
Fine. What then? – ‘well we can change your tickets for another film in English that is just starting now – it is also about Space’ – Life (not quite the same as GotG). NO. I do not want to see a horror movie that may or may not have already started. The customer service woman swears at Phil. Phil tries not to giggle.
After some further debate we get our money back accompanied by death looks from the harassed woman in the ticket office.
We trudged home trying not to be unsurprised. This place just cracks me up.
*Random image from our holiday as nothing else is really appropriate.