6/11/2006

Grosse Pointe Blank

This blog may have left you with the impression that there are ONLY poor examples of English-to-German translation - far from it! Occasionally, albeit rarely, we get to see true brilliance: I'd rate Grosse Pointe Blank one of those 'lucky accidents' that display real language savvy in terms of getting not only words, but meaning across. For example, we hear Alan Arkin alias Dr. Oatman, John Cusack's alias Martin Blank's psychiatrist, saying 'Don't kill anybody for a few days. See, what it feels like' with Cusack replying 'All right, I'll give it a shot'. Apart from this being an excellent (and thoroughly entertaining ;-)) usage of words with regard to the pun herein, the German translation reads "OK, ich leg's mal darauf an". Dr. Oatman parries 'No, no, don't give it a shot, don't shoot anything', which translation made into "Nein, legen Sie nicht an, legen Sie auf keinen an."

This whole movie is packed with idioms and excellent translation, where translators were eventually being given the freedom to move away from a literal conversion to the extent that they exchanged a quote from a British punk rock song into an entirely different line taken from a German pop song, which is characteristic of the German music era Neue Deutsche Welle of the early eighties. I'm referring to "Keine Atempause. Geschichte wird gemacht. Es geht voran" by the German band Fehlfarben, whereas the English soundtrack has 'Armagideon Time' of The Clash, who were most likely better known then to American audiences and of whom John Cusack has been a confessing fan.

Apart from excellent translation this movie also sports an intelligent and entertaining plot, great cast and outstanding performances. I'd rate it a 9 out of 10 (it would be a ten, if I liked the soundtrack better, but I must admit that I was neither much of a fan of Neue Deutsche Welle nor punk rock).

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