WHEN: 8:50am EST, May 18th, 2013
WHERE: In my apartment in Portland, ME
FORMAT: DVD on a 24” Philips CRT television, English subtitles for the hearing impaired on
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: Groggy
Watching a movie 52 times in a year without watching with subtitles is like eating 52 flavors of ice cream without eating low-fat vanilla. There are better options, but there’s a good chance you’ll end up doing it anyway.
Unlike the disaster of choosing the wrong ice cream, interesting things can be discovered by a subtitle viewing. You can discover hidden background conversations you never noticed, or find that you’ve been hearing a line wrong for years. Most likely, you will realize that subtitling movies has got to be a pretty wretched job.
DISCOVERIES (OR LACK THEREOF):
All my major revelations occurred in the first several minutes. I had always heard Muldoon’s line “Work her back” as a mere garbled yell and I’d never been able to fully make out his “Block the opening, don’t let her get out.” Neither line is particularly surprising.
Soon after this scene it became apparent that the subtitles were mostly paraphrased versions of lines said, not a direct transcript. They weren’t particularly telling paraphrases, either. For your reading pleasure, I present the one interesting subtitle in Jurassic Park:
“What? A breed of what child? The child from earlier? What would be intriguing about it?”
Oh, god, no.
DESCRIBING THE SCORE:
It seems that whoever transcribed the film didn’t take much time to accurately take down the dialogue, but it didn’t take long to find out where he directed most of his attention. He was coming up with different ways to describe John Williams’s iconic score to the demographic least likely to be able to appreciate it.
Okay, seriously? That was just the first five minutes of the film. Sure, the music is an important part of Jurassic Park, but does it really need its own extensive subtitling? This keeps up through the rest of the film. In addition to those seen above, the score is periodically described as:
(LIVELY MEXICAN MUSIC PLAYING)
(ADVENTUROUS INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC)
(SWEEPING INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC)
(EXCITING INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC)
(LIGHT INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC)
(SOFT INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC)
(TENSE INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC)
(SINISTER INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC)
(GRIPPING INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC)
(TENDER INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC)
(SOLEMN INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC)
(MELANCHOLIC INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC)
(SERENE INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC)
In an ideal world, the Google image search I just conducted for “smug man with thesaurus” would have provided me with an appropriate picture to cap off this section. That not being the case, I am forced to simply express my bafflement at the subtitler’s desire to keep a running tab on how the music made him feel at various points in the film. The effect of a given piece of music is not universal. Any attempt to label a score with an emotion will be horrifically subjective. I could understand the inclusion of music when a scene is being set, such as the (LIVELY MEXICAN MUSIC PLAYING) when Nedry meets with Dodgson. But, to list off every time a theme changes is just tedious.
I’ll now leave you with this tidbit from a short-lived bovine: