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The Fountain

I watched The Fountain on DVD this past weekend. I enjoyed its gorgeousness and its creative twisting together of romance and nondualism. Have any of you seen it? I'd be interested to hear what you think.

One thing that struck me as I was watching it was that all of the the seventeenth-century Spaniards spoke English with a British accent. I'm not sure why I noticed it, because it seems like something I and most audiences wouldn't normally notice—would take for granted, even. Wouldn't it sound odd for them to speak English with an American accent? Or an Australian accent? British English seems to be the English-speaking world's shorthand for 'historical'. I'm guessing that has to do with Britain being the homeland of the language. I think I'd rather have heard seventeenth-century Spanish with English subtitles; I'm a snob that way. I wonder how the accent I take for British in that film sounds to native Britons—is it a sort of cheesy 'movie British' accent (cousin, perhaps, to Basic Faire Accent)?

Along similar lines, I couldn't help but notice the seventeenth-century Mayans in the film did not speak English but rather a Mayan language (with subtitles). Hmmm. A case of exoticism? Or a way to show the linguistic barrier between the Spanish protagonist and the Mayans he encountered?


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 14th, 2007 10:29 pm (UTC)
Not that it's accurate for the seventeenth century but it always startles me in Europe to hear the accents of English-as-a-second-language speakers: they often sound very British to me, particularly if the person has gone to England to improve their English at some point. (I also met a Romanian studying in Dublin who had, to my ears, a reasonably strong Irish accent to her English.) I'm told that British (or Irish) people do not hear this, all they hear is the foreignness, not the sameness.

It makes sense really for modern Europeans, they will have mostly been exposed to British English when they hear native speakers, especially in countries (like, apparently, Malta) which get English TV channels. So hearing a British accent to English is shorthand for European, as well as historical.

I haven't met many Asian people who learned fluent English in Asia (most learned it in Australia), but I'm told they will often have noticable North Americanish accents if they learned it recently, and British if they learned it a decade or two ago.
Aug. 15th, 2007 04:57 pm (UTC)
As an ESL teacher in Asia for a while - quite true. If Asian students have gone through the current generation of English at school (Japan, China, anyway), then it comes with a N.A> accent. Older generations (and, interestingly, rich folk who feel the need to send kids to England) have a very British received pronunciation. Weird to hear someone who sounds *just like* David Attenborough.

And, as you say, anyone in Europe will have an English accent, usually.

As for the historical thing, it's an old-fashioned theater convention, I think. British received pronunciation = old. I remember in uni Raina was directing a Greek play, and someone threw a fit because he was doing the Brit accent and was told to stop. "But classical Greek plays are *always* done with a British accent," he complained. I think it does work, for Americans, at least, because the accent is "other."

And there's some sleep-deprived rambling from me.

Aug. 16th, 2007 05:26 pm (UTC)
Hallie and i went saw The Fountain in the theatre. We were confused, like most people i think. Overall it looked pretty interesting. I'm sure there was something i was missing and that's why i'd like to see it again.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )