Jack Kerouac, as Sal Paradise once said: "I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till i drop. This is the night, what it does to you. I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion." And I think that's a rather apt description of my blog over the years, and perhaps the most perfect description of me in general that I've ever read. So that's what this blog is, a collection of the falling stars that are beckoning me at any time.

05 March 2006

it's about damn time someone considered subtitles

So I went to see Nochnoi Dozor, (Night Watch for the non russian speakers) mainly because I've been waiting to see some Russian cinema that was actually visually exciting (I don't think the foreign film pipeline has put out any really exciting Russian cinematagraphy since Tarkovsky died, though there have been a few well written dramas) even though I heard that Fox butchered the original cut to make it more 'palatable' for American audiences. (no shocker there, Hollywood never trusts Americans to be able to appreciate a different aesthetic.)

Anyway, this isn't about my cinemaphile bitterness towards Hollywood, it's about film typography, specifically subtitle design. I guess this was the second movie (the first being Man on Fire, which I've actually not seen) to design the subtitles dynamically. I can't say that I'd like the approach in all foreign films, but for a highly visual action film, I thought the design was brilliant. (for those who haven't seen and don't know what the hell I'm talking about, the titles were not relegated to the bottom of the screen at all times, sometimes they were in different colours, sometimes they moved or dissipated or other such things) I've seen the film's approach to subtitling referred to as 'mildly irritating' or 'annoying' several times and I don't really get it because it seems to me like the choice to in keys places incorporate the subs into the visual frame of the movie actually solves one of the major problems of subtitling as we know it, which is that your eye locks onto reading the text at the expense of really taking in the image on the screen and appreciating the filmmaking.

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