Why not just use a Russian?!?

Discussion in 'Movies' started by doug zdanivsky, Sep 8, 2004.

  1. doug zdanivsky

    doug zdanivsky Supporting Actor

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    I was watching a Sopranos re-run the other day.. Tony's maid is Russian, and is speaking in "Russian" to her husband..

    And it was just EXCRUCIATING!! Phyisically painful..

    To all those other Russian speakers out there whose ears bled with mine, I appologize on behalf of casting directors everywhere..

    This is one of my biggest pet-peeves in movies and TV..

    Why the heck can't you just add some realism and get someone who actually speaks the language?

    It is especially irksome when it's an extra.. I mean, are we supposed to really care that much about mugger #3's rakish scar, or perfect jaw? I know the same could be said of the few lines he speaks, but I repeat, would it be so hard to cast a Russian actor/actress?

    But even when the person is a main character (like Ed O'ross as the villian in Red Heat, or Vincent Cassel as the villian in Birthday Girl.. Nicole Kidman's Russian? Oh boy.. A for effort, though..), it is very grating and takes me right out of the movie..

    There are plenty of talented actors out there who also speak fluent Russian, if they are not Russian nationals or fomerly of Russia or one of it's former sattelite countries..

    I know, 98% of the intended audience is totally oblivious to this.. But why not add that extra touch, at no real financial or creative expense, I say?

    And it's not just Russian.. The same could be said for alot of languages on screen and tv..

    Anyhoo, enough of my ranting..

    What say all of you?
     
  2. Nick Sievers

    Nick Sievers Producer

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  3. doug zdanivsky

    doug zdanivsky Supporting Actor

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    Not quite the same, as I was refering to language, not race, but..
     
  4. Phil K

    Phil K Auditioning

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    I can really understand you! It is the same with other languages. Most prominent for me is the miserable use of German in (US) movies. The only ONE time I actually COULD understand what somebody was saying in German language was in the first 10 minutes of "U-571". The director went the extra way and casted native speakers to portrait the German u-boat soldiers. Recently watched "South-Park The Passion of the Jew" and did not understand a word of what Cartman was blathering about in his Fuhrer reincarnation. On the other hand I laughed my butt off when the scientist in "The Hudsucker Proxy" had this heavy German/Austrian accent [​IMG]

    Cheers,
    Phil
     
  5. Roger_R

    Roger_R Second Unit

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    I guess it's just easier to pick a person off the street and have him say the words with his own accent than to actually make an effort and get someone who can speak the language coherently.
    Being Norwegian myself, I notice this problem when it comes to characters from Scandinavia. In most movies they hire an American actor and American actors can't speak Norwegian period [​IMG]
    The X-files episode Død Kalm from season 2 is a perfect example of this. Whatever Trondheim is saying is not Norwegian. Another one is the scene with the Norwegian and the dog in The Thing(1982).

    However, kudos To David Lynch for getting someone who were able to speak Norwegian for the Twin Peaks pilot.
     
  6. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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    In the Taipei scenes on Alias, when Chinese is being spoken, it IS Chinese, but it's the wrong dialect. Everyone spoke Cantonese, but the main Chinese dialect in Taiwan is Mandarin. If anybody does speak Cantonese in Taiwan, they are part of a very small minority. I think it would've actually been easier for everyone to have spoken Mandarin than Cantonese.

    However, in "Good Times With Weapons," the Japanese sung in the fight sequence was actual Japanese. Trey Parker double-majored in Japanese and music at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
     
  7. JonZ

    JonZ Lead Actor

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    Tonys maid is Polish. Remember the scene when the FBI guy came up to them to waste time and asked if they were Polish.

    The woman who took care of her mother, the one missing her leg and her sister (who Tony had the affair with)were Russian.
     
  8. stephen la

    stephen la Stunt Coordinator

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    maybe there arent that many russian actors in the screen actors guild?
     
  9. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    The most grating example for me was the french president in the movie The American President. My problem wasn't even that the guy was not french, it was that he probably never spoke a word of french in his life. Why o why?!

    --
    H
     
  10. Sami Kallio

    Sami Kallio Screenwriter

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    "Johnny English", John Malkovich speaking in "French" accent. [​IMG]
     
  11. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    This kind of thing happens all the time. People who can’t speak a language, or people who can speak it but only heavily accented, or who can speak the language, but a different dialect, or even native speakers who can’t get an expected and required accent correct.

    How many bad ‘southern’ accents have we all heard from native speakers of English (or American).

    How many bad Australian or English accents from American actors?

    There are so many instances, that no one knows.

    In the end, someone will be able to detect an inaccuracy of some type in language in many, many movies, I’m not trying to defend what is in one context, poor filmmaking. But on the other hand, I expect that there are a lot more people who are put off by fake southern accents than by bad Russian ones.
     
  12. Sami Kallio

    Sami Kallio Screenwriter

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    Speaking a foreign language is ok even with an accent, as long as you're actually speaking the language. There are so many movies where even a person who doesn't speak the language can tell it is just mumbo-jumbo and not a language. Very bad for the movie.
     
  13. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    This is not at all a challenge Sami, but I can’t recall any offhand. OTOH, I don’t speak any foreign languages other than the normal survival Spanish that many of us have here in Texas. I can certainly recognize the Romance languages and some other European ones such as German. And I can certaintly tell if someone is speaking Japanese or nonsense and probably tell if someone is speaking Bahasa (Malay) or maybe even Mandarin, rather than just mumbo-jumbo.

    So my non-English language skills are really limited—but I’m guessing that I’d be conscious of the actors using made-up words and not actually speaking a good many languages. I just don’t remember these movies.

    Of course, if it is a bit part and an actor mutters one phrase that is not a word—but is supposed to be Spanish, I could certainly be deceived. Is this the kind of thing to which you are referring?
     
  14. Francois Caron

    Francois Caron Cinematographer

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    Oh man! What an extreme example that was! After hearing him talk, I said to myself "Hein? Il a dit quoi?!?" And this guy is suppose to be the French president!!

    If this keeps up, I could get myself a job in Hollywood as an actor for all those French speaking roles! [​IMG]
     
  15. Sami Kallio

    Sami Kallio Screenwriter

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    Mostly I have noticed it with the languages I am familiar with, Finnish and Swedish. None of the movies where the character is supposed to be from either country have they actually spoken the language. I have also noticed it on languages like German. Spanish and Portuguese seems to be languages where most of the time it actually is what it is supposed to be but my knowledge of them is quite limited so I don't know how accurate the dialog is.
     
  16. Mike_Carswell

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    I can't believe no one's mentioned Sean Connery yet. His ability to do a Scottish Irishman, Scottish Russian, Scottish American and Scottish Spaniard is amazing. Of course, the fact that he's Sean Connery means he gets away with it. God bless you, sir.
     
  17. doug zdanivsky

    doug zdanivsky Supporting Actor

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    For the record, I don't speak Russian with fluency.. Only like a high-school grade knowledge.. But I know Ukrainian, which is somewhat close..

    My point there is you can definately tell when someone is not fluent in a language if you know EVEN one foreign language in the same sphere (I'd be in the dark with everybody else if it was an Asian tongue).
     
  18. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    And I certainly hope if there are any further Star Trek movies that they get Klingons and Romulans for those roles, because none of the actors who've portrayed them are fluent in those languages as far as I can tell.


    [​IMG]
     
  19. doug zdanivsky

    doug zdanivsky Supporting Actor

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    Oooookay...

    LOL
     
  20. Lars Vermundsberget

    Lars Vermundsberget Supporting Actor

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    Most Poles were or are probably able to speak Russian since it used to be their first foreign language. That's what you're saying, isn't it? But the official language of Poland is (and has been for a long time) Polish.
     

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