Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Languages, European Filmmakers and Stars that Deserve Better!

Film Director Paul Verhoeven directs a scene from Black Book
Berlin, Germany--I’m blessed in recent years to have made some wonderful German friends that work in the German film industry as filmmakers or are involved with film funding.   If you’ve not noticed, Germany has become very serious about making great films.  Many of them are being made in English!  The best is yet to come! 
My all time favorite film is Black Book.  That terrific film was funded in part through generous German government film funding.  This exciting, Paul Verhoeven, World War Two thriller is actually filmed in mostly Dutch but also in German, English and some Yiddish depending on when and where the scene take place.  Most of the European stars speak English and none better than Carice van Houten who won the, once in a lifetime staring role of the accidental hero, Rachel Stein.
Europe is a linguistic melting pot.  Italians, French, Germans, Dutch, and the rest of Europe’s population are encouraged and taught in school to speak English.  Yes, many Europeans speak languages other than English but for most that are caught up in language conflicts English is  nearly always their salvation.  
I love languages and when I was conscripted into military service thankfully I wound up in Germany rather than Viet Nam.  I immediately took to learning Germany’s customs and language.  Speaking a second or more languages is a gift of empowerment.  It turned out that I really loved Germany and today wish I’d never left when my military commitment ended. 
Unfortunately the English speaking nations have not taken to learning the European languages.   Filmmakers have bridged the language gap with subtitles.  That seems simple however it’s impossible even for accomplished readers to concentrate on the film images being shown and reading the subtitles.   I know too many Americans that for the most part are unwilling to read a movie.   Was you audience so busy reading the subtitles that they missed the film? 
I have a better solution!  Make the film in the native language.  However in addition, make it in English.  Most actors in Europe speak English and speech coaches can work with actors on set that need help.
As each film scene is set up it can be shot first in the native language and reshot in English.  The actors will need two sets of their script sides to study.  The editing process will take longer but since the scenes are duplicates, it should not be difficult.  The actors should not find this difficult since they're already in the moment. 
The benefits for European filmmakers and the actors will be huge!  The films will sell to a much larger audience and the actors will be seen worldwide.  This is about profits and careers!  Is the actor or actress a Dutch or German star or an international star?   American or British actors don't deserve better exposure than actors of other nations.  In the end, talent not the country of orgin should determine the fame and fortune of the worlds actors and filmmakers. 
Instead of simply competing for the Best Foreign Film at the Oscar Awards,  films could then win awards in every category!  I want to see my favorite actress Carice van Houten get a nomination and actually win the Best Actress Award.  
As for Black Book, it was a genuine masterpiece the cast and crew were amazing to say the least.  The story was based on fact however they used a good bit of artistic license.  If you’ve not seen Black Book you must!  Below is the trailer for this great film:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes Paul - What you are saying is also being said at the French Film Festival by french Filmmakers and distributors at the City of Lights City of Angeles Film Festival in LA.

You should go and take a peak and try pot luck on Sunset Blvd next year. It is a real treat. With many different great stories in the movies and lots of humor too. One American director was really jealous and even admitted it. Tons of talent in France.

The French and as you said European Film Industry is thriving. Full of stories that could not get the go ahead here. Because too many restrictions put on the filmmakers in Hollywood

The main problem I guess of filming in English Language, before the Europeans know the movie will be successful world wide is a matter of financial cost and a small gamble.

I am not fluent in any language apart from English but for some reason I have gotten used to subtitles and they don't disturb me at all.