NicoleB. - Alright, whether it be fate or magical thinking, a few months after picking up the novel Anna Karenina, I hear they are making a movie based off of it. When I heard this, I was ecstatic. Completely and utterly too happy for something so simple. Then I looked at the cast.
Keira Knightley and a numerous other actors that have British accents. They're all wonderful actors- including Jude Law, Kelly Macdonald and Domhnall Gleeson. It's a great start.
But what the hell? It's a movie about RUSSIAN society- where are the accents? Am I merely misguided in believing that the accents should be at least vaguely Russian? I know the high society back then traveled frequently around Europe, but I doubt it was long enough to lose any accents, only to be replaced with English accents. It's too weird.
positive anarchy - Hollywood does this with many films of "ethnic orgin". Just look at the "whitewashing" of characters in Speed Racer or the the live action Avatar: The Last Airbender? Or to take it a step further, having Gary Oldman play a little person in "Tip Toes", despite the rarity of dramatic or leading roles for the often stereotyped actors.
That being said, these actors all play well in period pieces and it looks scrumptious, so I really don't mind. To expect exactness would call for a Russian language film as well, much as they did with the original "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" films. I far preferred that.
NicoleB. - Hollywood is just weird in general- you're right about each of those movies, I wish they weren't so blatant about it. Even better, I wish they would 'whitewash' at all.
Now that I think about it, Keira Knightley has done many period pieces. She was in Pride and Prejudice, The Duchess, Atonement and now Anna Karenina. I suppose she just has that timeless look about her.
NicoleB. - I hope so! The ball gowns are perfect, absolutely perfect! It's exactly what I pictured in my mind when I read the novel. My favorite part in the book is when Lenin sees Kitty at the ice rink. When it was shown in the trailer, I was way too happy.
NicoleB. - I know, pretty confusing. I'll try to explain what I've guessed. We all have accents. Whether English, Vietnames, Italian or Russian. It sounds different because the dialect is something we aren't used to hearing. But what happens when it is in English? I suppose it's so people of all languages can read it. But for authenticity's sake, I've always imagined the characters with Russian accents. I don't know, in the book the characters even speak French sometimes. But the book is translated into English for people who would like to enjoy it but can't speak Russian.
NicoleB. - Sooo mind boggling. I'm actually trying to learn Russian right now. I've been learning through music. I know one word: priviet. I know another word, spetsetap, but i have no fucking clue what it means. Wish me luck.
just mercedes - When Russians speak Russian, some do have accents - depending on their roots, country, county or city...but I've read Tolstoy and never heard an accent from the printed words, even though they had been translated into English in the meantime - I do love the intricacy of the French he inserts though, like summer curtains wafting in the breeze, the pattern forming and disappearing as shadows in the corner of the room...
Did it ever occur to you how fucked off the rest of the world is hearing their own accents, language and truth hijacked by stupid, ignorant American film-makers appealing to the mass market which -as witness here -cannot bear for anything to be in anything but Murcan, and with Murcan heroes inserted into stories where they never were? As for Anna, try the old Schelnick version in grainy black and white. Of course he tinkered with the story, but quand meme. Oh, yes, most of the characters would in reality have spoken French ( as Tolstoy indicates with the very first words) and some aristocrats were only able to speak Russian with an accent. Hmm...now you have your type of English spoken with an accent. What more do you want? And which Murcan accent do you want--Arkansas? Massachussetts?
Edit It is spelled Szelnick, I think--anyway, there is a zed in there. Also, I was thinking of 'War and Peace' where the first words were in French. Tut.
NicoleB. - If you mean everyone is angry that they get to hear how Americans completely butcher other languages in films, then I agree with you. Does Murcan mean American? That's awful too- I remember when I took a French class, my teacher told me the problem with "American English" is the people are lazy. The language is lazy, and not articulate. This is true in some cases. I don't know why so many people think Americans have drawling nasal voices. But I'm not offended, it's fine- we all have different dialects and accents. I'm okay with that, it's a fact of life. It was just curious to see actors with vaquely British accents in a movie about Russian high society. Maybe i just assumed. I think I'll just take a look at the Schelnick version, thanks.
CelticQueen - American English is lazy? EVERY language group is lazy. You're trying to tell me that there are no British English dialects that are sloppy, lazy or hard to understand because the speakers choose not to enunciate or otherwise properly pronounce the words? No Australian or New Zealand dialects that do the same?
The fact is, the English are just irritated that Americans have coined our own words and chose to change the language to suit ourselves rather than to slavishly cling to their way of speaking. This is just one more silly way of criticizing Americans.
NicoleB. - No, no, no. I'm not trying to tell you anything- it's just what I've heard, and to be honest I'm basing it off of my own experiences with the area I live in. By lazy, I mean that some of the words are not pronounced all the way, such as left out consonants and dragged out vowel. (Think valley girl accent) It's so easy to criticize, sometimes we don't realize we're doing it.
I really don't have enough experience hearing different languages to know if they are lazy or not- other than my own language.
IronFist - Hi CQ Where you aware that the devolution of language since the time of babel is overwhelming poof that once again leaves the theory of evolution "scientist" running for cover? The complexity of many ancient languages and dialects compared to modern language is like comparing a 2 year old to an English literature Professor to the power of 20 (ish)
Was it the yanks or the brits that started this grating distruction for the word "like" the kids use so much today.
"Like yeah I went to like the mall today and like bought this like awesome new like ipod and like the sound quality is like awesome, it's like sick bra."
CelticQueen - I don't know if it was an American or a Brit, but I know it was a teen-ager - and they are a species all their own.
As far as the devolution of language (do we really need to specify "human"?) is concerned, I was not aware of that fact, but I do know the speech characteristics of even unschooled people in the 17th and 18th centuries was more complicated than those of today.
Abu Nuwas - Accents are accents. In my opinion, they make a difference, when 'invading' another country with a distinctly different accent. So an American prancing around as a Scot of old has something of the ridiculous. On the other hand, I should have thought, in representing what essentially is a translation, accent would not not be a big thing.
The origin of American accents is itself an interesting study. Many differ from English English because the English changed, while , in remote parts, American remained the same. I have heard Cornishmen who sounded like Americans.
positive anarchy - In Tidewater Virginia, there's a lovely and queer accent that is closer to Ol' English than anything I've ever heard. It's brilliant, really, the diversity and evolution of dialects.
CelticQueen - As I recall, my outraged dear, the accents they were going to use were British not American - or Murcan as you so insultingly put it. "Stupid," "ignorant" American film-makers? Who put the burr under your saddle?
Abu Nuwas - It was an emotional-if rational- response to decades of 'Murcan misuse of the hegemony conferred by Hollywood. If you take a step back, Cynthia, as I know you will, you will see that if, in time, it becomes financially preferable to pander to Chinese cinema-goers' sensiblities, so that any derring-do or heroic tale which properly belongs only to you, and your fellow-Americans,, is somehow altered: Roy Rogers and Buffalo Bill are Chinese: the Battle of Bull Run is dominated by Chinese; Stonewall Jackson somehow originates from Beijing; the dead of D-Day are led by Chinese' Hemingway, Washington and anyone else--just the same--would a burr not creep under your saddle? ('Murcan I only learnt right here from American posters)
CelticQueen - Yes, I would have a burr under my saddle if that happened. And I know you will pardon my ignorance - after a sufficient amount of ridicule - but please tell me what British heroes have been misplaced by American heroes; or what feats performed by Brits are shown rather to have been done by Americans? I honestly cannot think of a single one. But then, I'm just a Murcan.
Abu Nuwas - Cynthia, their name is legion..... It frequently happens that if it must be kept roughly around the story, then a go-getting, chance-taking American is simply inserted alongside the British stuffed-shirts.
Abu Nuwas - It is always good to have some foreigner as a 'bad egg', and the British seem to make a living in Hollywood from this.
In 'The Bridge on the River Kwai', an American Naval Commander conveniently shows up in the person of William Holden. You must see that this is a thing on which my antennae would be better than yours; have faith, Cynthia, in me... Braveheart is another matter.
CelticQueen - You know, Abu, since you used The Bridge on the River Kwai as an example of Americans high-jacking a basically British story, I looked it up. That movie was based on the book and the book was fiction. It took SOME elements of history and used them, but mostly it was fictional. From the outset of making the movie, there was discord between the actors, the scriptwriters and the filmmakers. The actors, or at least the British actors, felt that the book (written by a Frenchman, don't remember his name) and the screenplay were both anti-British. Apparently, the movie followed the book pretty closely, though it was quite different from the real-life occurrences. (But, as I recall, in the book, the Naval Commander is British and in the movie, he's American.)
Abu Nuwas - I don't think anyone was claiming that the novel and film did more than bring out, on the one hand, a little of the horror involved in what is held to have been a war-crime, and on the other, the ways in which people, under stress, react to the same situation. It also had that peculiar quality of leaving the audience uncertain of whether or not Alec Guinness had 'gone over' or gone mad, or was doing what he said, and keeping his men's morale up, against terrible odds.
The Japanese had defeated the British in Malaya, which meant that the POWs on the Burma Railway were British, Australian and New Zealanders, for the most part. I think the reason for having an American is plain to us both --box-office. But now I am feeling even more petty than I did at the start.
According to the article I read, as bad as the movie made conditions look, they were,in reality, far worse. But the person that Alec Guiness portrayed - or the officer he was supposedly patterned after - was very different. In the movie, Guinness' character was almost a collaborator, he became so involved in doing a good job of the bridge. The real commander did things to sabotage the bridge. It's too bad the writer didn't paint a more accurate portrait of the man. I think he would have been more sympathetic. Maybe it was anti-British like the British actors thought. And yes, box office - especially with someone like William Holden. EDIT: Since movie-making IS a business, I guess keeping the box office in mind is not really so "stupid" or "ignorant", as someone I know claimed the moviemakers were. Hmmm?
Don't feel petty, my dear. It's just me you're talking to.
Abu Nuwas - I have known men who suffered at the hands of the Japanese but two very well. None spoke of their experiences, and I only found out from other, in one case, the man's wife, who told me that the reason he, over 70, and I, 18, were in the same class doing intensive Russian, was that he had been advised that if he did not keep his mind occupied, all the time, he would end up dwelling on his experiences, and go mad in a nightmare world. Both men, as it happened were among the nicest I have met. I have no doubt that the film was a far cry from reality-- but then, I doubt one could have made anything much different. Who would watch a true portrayal? As for being anti-British, it is a favorite occupation of the British, you have no idea. And..I have an idea that it was a British film..
I take your point about stupidity and ignorance: just the distortions produced by capitalism. In the same way, I recall an old and famous actor, who had specialised in bit-parts as a very English Englishman, explaining how it was that he came to say the things he did. He had protested that no-one at all in this country used certain locutions, nor had they ever. " I know that", said the director, "but that's what Americans think they say!"
Abu Nuwas - PS You do, in turn, have the pleasure of seeing Daniel Day-Lewis play Abraham Lincoln-- he is the son of the wonderful Cecil Day-Lewis, a 'minor poet'. But I doubt that you will have a story-line where a band of plucky Brits turn up and save the day in the Civil War.....though I can hope
CelticQueen - Well, no, I doubt that a "band of plucky Brits" would show up in a movie about the American Civil War in any kind of complimentary role - since they stayed neutral during the Civil War so as not to have to fight anyone. The same for the French.
I'm aware of who Daniel Day-Lewis is. We've seen him many times in various roles.
Abu Nuwas - Bad eggs, every one of us, and poltroons to boot. As for the French, how you say? 'Cheese-eating surrender monkeys'. Hope you still sticking with Freedom Fries....
And wasn't that awful? Not to interfere in the internal affairs of a sovereign state, for fear of having to fight! Oh my!
No-one could say that of the Northerners, who cheerfully broke international treaties in the so-called 'Trent Affair'. No, sirree!
A vote to support the south was defeated in the House of Commons, not because of a lack of sympathy with the south, but because of problems with slavery, which Britain had abolished decades previously. I imagine that any appetite for supporting the North would have been rather dampened by the boorish nature of the the representatives of the North, and indeed, the Secretary of State in post at the time.
CelticQueen - Goodness, you're rich with the names in this thread, aren't you? Cheese-eating surrender monkeys? Wow!
I have no ill-feeling toward either the British or the French for their "non"-action in the American Civil War. They were basically being pulled in a tug of war between the two sides of an internal conflict. The South had assumed they would almost automatically be recognized as a sovereign nation because of England's textile industry's reliance on Southern cotton. The North simply relied on the improving relationship with England. Captain Wilkes' actions in the Trent affair put a strain on that relationship, but it showed the South where it stood with England - nowhere. Had England acknowledged the Confederate States of America as a nation, it would almost certainly have meant war with the United States - another war with the U.S. That would have been three in less than 100 years!
Abu Nuwas - It was not I who invented the 'cheese-eating...' jibe, nor the idea that chips--what you call French fries--be renamed. As adamant as they were, and as irritating as it was at the time, the French were in fact correct. But that is history. What was the third war, or second in reality?
Abu Nuwas - But which translation will they base it on? In the early Constance Garnett books, the male characters address each other as 'My dear'. Some people have 'My dear chap/fellow' but they make it sound like something out of 1920s England (or me). Yet a modern translation with ''Alright mate?'' would somehow lose its Russian character.
Barry Hodges - It is amusing how this has turned into another Brit v Murcan slanging match. For the record the concept of a "British" accent is stupid. Only an ignorant person would use such a term. The "British" accents which Americans seem to love are actually upper-middle class Southern English. I suppose the US equivalent would be the English spoken by someone like Obama or JF Kennedy (before he got shot - he didn't talk much afterwards).
There is a huge range of accents in Britain, but NO "British" accents. We have a huge range of English, Scots, Welsh and Irish accents, ranging from what might be better termed dialects with a large number of non-standard English words to clipped patrician accents you could cut with a knife via working class accents from the North and from Western Scotland which are almost incomprehensible to most other Britons.
As a matter of fact, there have been over 20 films of "Anna Karenina", including two rather famous ones: in 1935 with Greta Garbo, in 1948 with Vivien Leigh.
NicoleB. - How am I supposed to know all of that? As much as I wish I did, I never would have known. I've been brought up with terms such as "British accents" and "American accents." I didn't know, i know now. So label me ignorant if it pleases you.
JF Kennedy (before he got shot - he didn't talk much afterwards). ...LOL. What a dry sense of humor. But it worked, I laughed even though I felt horrible about it.
Oh, 20 films? That's amazing to see how many people were inspired by the book. I happen to think Greta Garbo was a great actress (like so many others thought too, and stil do), so I would see that one in a heartbeat.
Thanks for the educational info, I always enjoy learning new things.
Barry Hodges - There's a different between the terms "American accents" and "British accents" I feel. This is because alll the regional accents in use in the USA are "American" because the USA is a nation. Britain is not a nation. England, Wales and Scotland are nations. British is an adjective which applied to the inhabitants of Great Britain. I think the American equivalent of saying "British accent" would be to talk of a "USA accent" which I am sure you will agree sounds silly.
CelticQueen - So, it is also incorrect, then, to say "British accent" because a Scotsman certainly sounds different than an Irishman or an Englishman! Do those outside the U.S. refer to an American accent? And if so, what are they thinking of, precisely, since we have so many accents.
Barry Hodges - No the point is that "British" refers to citizenship, not nationality. It would be similar to saying a New Yorker spoke with a "US accent". You can say English accent, Scottish, Welsh, Irish, London, Yorkshire etc etc, but not "British".
CelticQueen - Citizenship, not nationality - that sounds good - but are they not basically the same? I know what you mean, but you are a citizen of a nation, not of an "empire" which Britain was. I have heard English (or British?) and Australian actors who play Americans say they use an American accent. They actually sound like those who live on the American West Coast - what I consider almost "accentless", at least to my ear.
CelticQueen - But to say "English" accent would be the same as saying USA accent. Anybody who has ever seen My Fair Lady knows there are a variety of English accents as well! (Since Abu and I have just been discussing movies.) I'm fairly certain there are also a variety of accents in Scotland, Ireland and Wales - and Australia and New Zealand. We recently had a guest from Australia stay with us for several days. His accent sounded more English than the Australian accent we commonly hear on TV and the movies.
So, then, how do we refer to accents? Those of us who live outside the country (whichever country) are not likely to know which region a particular accent is from.
Abu Nuwas - That is a very good question. Some of our accents --Barnsley, Orkney, Glasgow, e.g.-- are quite incomprehensible in their extreme forms. Yet, just as you, travelling abroad, could identify an accent as some kind of American accent, so also, I suppose, would people from here be able to pick out a British accent, without knowing where it originated. We are, in truth, telling ourselves that it must be so because we know what it is not: you know that you are not hearing an Australian, New Zealand, or British accent, or indeed S African. In this sense, we use big terms 'British' 'American' as hold-alls, whilst at the same time knowing that these are broken down into many specific accents.
dericlee - It's not like any of Tolstoy's characters were actually speaking English, so why should it matter in what accent the actors speak English? As long as the accents are somewhat consistent, the presentation should appear that they are all speaking the same language.