Frohe Neues Jahr, or something like that. After spending Christmas in Berlin, we're back in the land of greased mullets, fake tanning, and itsy-bitsy beer glasses. The Weihnachtsmärkte were shuttered, dismantled, and all but a memory in the days after Christmas, and the town's attention switched to Silvester, the German name for the New Year celebration.
Us, we had American movies to think about. New films by Wes Anderson and David Cronenberg finally rolled into Germany this week. Sunday we caught Eastern Promises, re-titled as Tödliche Versprechen, or Deadly Promises. Immer and always, Germany likes to play up the drama in advertising for American films. Take Sleuth, for example – here its called 1 Murder For 2. But then, America did rechristen Lola Rennt, seemingly by Dr. Seuss, as Run Lola Run. Anyway, we saw the movie at the Off-Broadway on Zülpicherstraße, not far from where we live. Its a cute theater with a courtyard and a small bar and, to my surprise, seating reservations. I have mixed feelings about this - mostly negative. How am I to know whether there'll be upright, teased-out hair occupying the seat in front of the one I've committed to? Fortunately, we had no such problems. Also not a problem was the film's language – the spoken language was English, with German subtitles. As Eastern Promises concerns London's Russian mafia, we had to rely on the German subs for any Russian-language dialogue, which actually wasn't too bad. The trailers before the film, however, were all in German. Not only did we have 30 minutes of trailers, but in fact we had two trailers each for My Blueberry Nights, Darjeeling Limited, and I'm Not There. Dubbing is something we Americans haven't cozied up to, and if I was on the fence before, I'm convinced of its odiousness now. As stupid a title as My Blueberry Nights already is, it doesn't hold a candle to the utter ridiculousness of Jude Law's German voice-dub as, in the midst of a jaunty German diatribe, he sings the words “blueberry pie” in English. Or worse – far, far worse – Owen Wilson dubbed in German.
Which brings us to New Year's Eve... I scored free tickets to a preview screening of Darjeeling Limited, showing at 7pm on New Year's Eve. We were greeted at the theater with complementary champagne, whether for the holiday or the preview I couldn't say. There weren't near as many trailers this time (tho we endured a third Deutsche Jude Law cringe). However. The movie starts and we find that, despite our best researching efforts, we are watching a German-dubbed Wes Anderson film starring Owen Wilson. Myself, I was ready to up and leave, especially since the tickets had been free, but we were pretty boxed in with a capacity audience, so we resigned ourselves to sticking it out. I can't say we're all that clear on the particulars of the film's plot, but we understood a good deal of what was happening. When we didn't understand, we simply tuned out and immersed ourself in the unlocking the mystery of what could possibly convince someone that cartoon-voice overdubs lend themselves well to faithful translations. The film opens officially this weekend, and at least one theater in town advertises original English with German subs. Later this month we get My Blueberry Nights (for better or for worse, I dunno) in English. Sometime in February I'm Not There opens. Not sure how they intend to handle the language on that one, but German-dubbed Bob Dylan impersonations sound like some fun, no?
A couple tips for ex-pats and visitors in Germany: “OV” means “original language.” “OmdU” means “original language with German subtitles.” “OmeU” means “original language with English subs,” referring to non-English-language films (and something you'll not often encounter).
Oh yeah, and New Year's. Perhaps because there's no 4th of July here, Silvester is a major fireworks holiday. You can buy your fireworks in town. If you wish, you can even buy them at the grocery store. Its no problem to set them off in the middle of the street or, really, just about anywhere. Also, transportation of your combustibles is no sweat. Fireworks may be carried on the train and, as we saw at the Darjeeling screening, brought into the movie theater. And why not? This was, after all, a film by the director of Bottle Rocket...