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There's alien and there's different

We caught some of the Radio 4 adaptation of Lem's Solaris yesterday. I know it's a dramatization of a translation but the wilfull refusal to put any information in some of the dialog sounded like the inspiration for every Pinter play I've ever heard. And I'm not sure I find an alien life form with an Essex accent convincing (sbisson sugested it's the equivalent of a Leningrad argot but it just has other connotations for me).

And personally, if I met the re-incarnation in alien plasma of someone I used to know and they asked what was happening, I like to think I'd tell them they were a re-incarnation - but I guess that's rather a postmodern plot.

I like postmodern. I like Dexter, because it plays so cleverly at the edge of what's acceptable and what's sympathetic. It also does tone shift, from serious to trivial, in a way I find intensely pleasing and funny and ironic ('some would say God was in this room. If he was, I'd ask him if he's brought a power extension.') But given that the character is a sociopath and possibly a psychopath too, those oh-so-witty changes of register could be part of his lack of affect rather than a pomo sense of humour. I can't watch the episodes back to back - more gore than Lucky Number Slevin and too much of the register is played in dark rather than dark but funny - but it's enormously compelling.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
30th Jul, 2007 17:10 (UTC)
I vaguely seem to remember in the film version that they did exactly that, and understandably people got upset. It's been a while since I've seen it though.
30th Jul, 2007 18:51 (UTC)
Accents are a problem.

Set a work in english and feature, say, a french person, that's a no-brainer.

But what happens when you want to convey, in an english work, three or four french people conversing *in french*. Having them chat in english with strong (and bad) french accents is the traditional route - but really rather naff. (Clive James referred to this as "chermans" - though he was, of course, talking about the german characters in a WW2 drama not the french resistance).

I guess the ultimate prod at this particular problem was "Allo allo".

So the crafty ones bin it.

Some bin it en masse. Some leave it to teh actor - which is a pity coz then you get the bizarre spectale of Prince John being thoroughly middle-class brit whilst Robin Hood is vaguely mid-western yank and Friar Tuck comes from every county in England in fast rotation.

When it comes to space aliens, it doesn't take a genius to work out that even if they learn English, they'll probably have *some* sort of an accent. So what do you do? Leave it to the actor and you get a reasonable result (say Deanna Troi or Londo Molari) but then along comes Troi's mother or the whole of the rest of the Centauri Republic, and they can't or won't attempt an accent remotely like taht which we have come to recognise as...

There've been some clever moves, however. Abandoning "cherrman" Annaud had the bright idea of casting brits as the russians and americans as the germans. Worked very well, even for those who didn't realise what had been done.

I've noticed similar efforts of late by the Beeb, when casting characters in an all-french drama, they tend to seek out "equivalent" accents.

But the problem's going to persist. Only sort of alien we're really going to know what it sounds like, is one which communicates telepathically.
30th Jul, 2007 19:34 (UTC)
The English edition of Solaris is a translation of the French translation, alas, and there's been no sign of a better one.
30th Jul, 2007 22:56 (UTC)
Russian Accents
If Moscow is London, then St Petersburg pretty much has to be Edinburgh, although a true Peterburger would say St P is London and Moscow is Birmingham.
31st Jul, 2007 11:34 (UTC)
Re: Russian Accents
We ought to be able to get the connotations of Cambridgein there somewhere ;-)
31st Jul, 2007 09:37 (UTC)
I like Dexter

Me too!

I can't watch the episodes back to back - more gore than Lucky Number Slevin

Ah, now I don't have so much of a problem with that. Too many years of watching various CSI's and cheering when the announcer states that 'the following episode contains scenes of a disturbing/graphic nature'...
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


full steam ahead
Mary Branscombe
Simon & Mary

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