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Posts Tagged ‘Kurosawa

Traduttore, traditore…


Over at the always-fascinating Langage Log, Victor Mair responds to an amusing– but as he points out, slightly misleading– piece in The Daily Mail.  In “Lost in translation: Hilarious advice signs from foreign airports… where their English leaves a little to be desired,” The Mail features a series of Asian signs awkwardly, if not entirely incorrectly, translated– like this one:

But as Mair observes, some of the signs featured are perhaps even more amusing, precisely because they are perfectly accurately translated:

Though the English may sound strange, neither of these signs is mistranslated. That’s what the Chinese really says:

       yóuyú mǒuxiē yuányīn yánwù 由于某些原因延误
“delayed due to some reasons”

       wénmíng jīchǎng 文明机场
“civilized airport”

These two signs are examples of what might be called “un-Chinglish”. Technically, their “lost” quality is due not to mistranslation but to unfamiliarity with the sociocultural expectations of the circumstances in which they are found…

… which is all just to remind us that the world is even more wonderfully weird than we know.


As we treasure our phrasebooks, we might send epic birthday greetings to a man whose work transcended translation, Akira Kurosawa; he was born on this date in 1910.  One of the most influential filmakers in cinema history, he directed 30 films in a 57 year career.  His Rashomon, a surprise Golden Lion winner at Venice in 1950, went on to commercial success in Europe and the U.S., opening those markets to Japanese film.  He went on to make such masterpieces as Ikiru (1952), Seven Samurai (1954), Yojimbo (1961), Kagemusha (1980), and Ran (1985)… a body of work for which he won essentially every major film award offered in Japan, Europe, and the U.S., including a Lifetime Achievement Oscar (1990).



Written by LW

March 23, 2013 at 1:01 am

All Singing! All Dancing!– All Free!…


From Chaplin and Keaton to Astaire and Olivier; from Kurosawa and Godard to von Sternberg and Tarkovsky; from Scorsese and Hitchcock to Ford and Huston– 300 Free Movies Online.

(Readers should be sure to look through the list to the very bottom, where they will find a list of links to more streaming riches…)

As we politely refuse butter, we might recall that it was on this date in 1958 that Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward were married; they celebrated their 50th anniversary just months before Newman succumbed to lung cancer at the age of 83.



Loving Godzilla, 17 syllables at a time…

From SamuraiFrog, an arresting (and very amusing) collection of Godzilla Haiku.

“Monsters are born too tall, too strong, too heavy, they are not evil by choice; that is their tragedy”
Ishiro Honda (Kurosawa friend, Toho director, and creator of Godzilla)

Honda on the set of the original Godzilla

As we rethink our attraction to urban centers, we might compose a birthday rhyme for Torquato Tasso, the 16th Century Italian poet; he was born on this date in 1544.  Tasso was a giant in his own time– he died in 1595, a few days before the Pope was to crown him “King of the Poets”– but had fallen out the core of the Western Canon by the end of the 19th century.  But he resonates still in the poems (Spencer, Milton, Byron), plays (Goethe), madrigals (Monteverdi), operas (Lully, Vivaldi, Handel, Haydn, Rossini, Dvorak) , and art work (Tintoretto, the Carracci, Guercino, Pietro da Cortona, Domenichino, Van Dyck, Poussin, Claude Lorrain, Tiepolo, Fragonard, Delacroix) that his life and work inspired.



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