Wednesday, August 4, 2010

At the Movies

One of the first movies we saw in Brazil was Toy Story 3. After hearing rave reviews from my friends back home as a 'must-see' we jumped on the metro to Botafogo shopping, an 8 or so level shopping mall with the theater on the topmost floor. Passing the food court and seeing the longest line for food was at McDonald's we decided to check out the Brazilian version of movie. We were able to pick our exact seat in the theater when buying our ticket, which probably cut down on customer unhappiness with seats right near the screen. Popcorn and soda were standard issue behind the counter and there were also hot dogs like the ones at the soccer game. Halls cough drops made an appearance in the candy section, as they did at the impromptu street side candy stands alongside Serenata de Amores (hazelnut and chocolate candies) and Pacoquitas (a kind of peanut candy). Toy Story 3 was offered with subtitles as well as dubbed and we opted for subtitles to compare the English with the translated Portuguese. There were a few jokes that didn't translate into Portuguese well, where Rita and I were the only two laughing in the theater. On the whole though, our fellow Brazilian movie-goers chuckled, gasped and probably got a little misty-eyed at the same times we did. Even though an animated movie is probably the most commercial use of translation, it did remind us that no matter how perfect a translation between words is, there are some cultural references that are difficult to capture without an intimate knowledge of pop culture and hard to translate without a clumsy footnote (or not at all in the case of a movie). This reminded me that a future in translation and interpretation would be more than just memorizing a dictionary.

Our next foray to the movies, a movie festival in fact, occurred after we were turned away from the Teatro Municipal for improper attire. We had gone on a whim and unfortunately I was wearing a pair of flip-flops and even though they sported the Brazilian flag, the theater did enforce a dress code. Luckily, write across from the theater in the plaza at Cinelandia there awas a movie theater. Featured at the Animundi film festival was Mary and Max. Although it was a fantastic piece of claymation cinema we were a bit disappointed to still have not yet seen a movie in Portuguese. Thus on our next trip to the theater we specifically chose a Portuguese language film. After an inspection of the Arts and Entertainment section of O Globo, we chose Viajo porque preciso e volto porque te amo (I Travel Because I Need to and I Come Back Because I Love You). It sounded a bit romantic and visually pleasing at it was set in the Nordeste do Brasil (which we had planned on visiting but steep flight tickets changed our minds). Sitting in the theater and watching a movie in Portuguese with no subtitles whatsoever I felt quite pleased with what I had learned as I picked out common phrases and words I had learned in class during the movie. Even though it was great to practice my listening comprehension, after an hour or so the movie became quite tiresome and a bit desolate. The Nordeste looked dry and barren and the protagonist was hard to like because of his multiple trysts while away from his girlfriend/wife whom he had plaintively pined for at the beginning of the movie. While the movie would get 4 stars for helping me practice my Portuguese, in terms of cinematic merit it would rank pretty low.

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