07 July 2007

Accents in Movies

Accents can sometimes be very tricky things. And very informative about the thinking of the movie makers.

Carmen and I just saw "Ratatouille," Pixar's latest animated feature. It's very entertaining but the accents are a bit weird. It all takes place in France, and all the characters are French, including the rats (no jokes about the Frogs, thank you very much). Now the rats all speak with American accents, which probably pleases the French, except that the human hero, Linguini, also speaks with an American accent. So what?

The restaurant critic speaks with a British accent (no surprise - he's voiced by the incomparable Peter O'Toole). The villainous sous-chef and the female love interest, on the other hand, have French accents so heavy it is sometimes hard to understand them. Especially when they speak with great passion, which, being French, they do regularly. So does everyone else, except for the ex-con, who has a German accent. Quite a mix.

It reminded me that in "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," everyone, including the beavers and Father Christmas, had British accents of one sort or another. Except for Maughrim, the evil commander of the queen's guard - he had an American accent. What kind of commentary is that?

Years ago in France I went to see "Le Gran Dragon du Lac de Feu" (known here as "Dragonslayer." I didn't know it at the time but Carmen went to school with the female lead, Kaitlyn Clark. Anyway, before the movie there were cartoons, one of them a Donald Duck story from the days when Donald was one mean nasty crank. Every character was dubbed into French except ... mean ol' Donald, of course.

We won't even get into the use and abuse of southern accents in movies.


At 08 July, 2007 01:27, Anonymous Joey said...

Dad and I were watching a movie about the October Revolution and despite taking place in St Petersburg/Leningrad, all the actors had British accents.

We also agreed that it would sound odd for them to have American accents but we couldn't conjure up a good reason for that.


At 08 July, 2007 01:35, Blogger Clemens said...

In Ben Hur all the Judeans had American accents, all the Romans, British accents. Seems more imperial, whether Latin or Russian, I suppose.

But, in "Aquirre, Wrath of God," about the Spanish in the Amazon, all the Conquistadors speak German, and at one point swear allegiance to 'der Kaiser, Karl.'


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