No, those two things aren't connected. Well, they are sort of, but not directly, or at least not in the way you think. Then again, if you seriously think that we are having problems with ocean-going thieves who like to waive cutlasses; drink "grog," whatever the hell that is, beyond some sort of strong liquor that only comes in brown jugs stamped XXX; and wear eye-patches here in Beijing--a city not actually on the ocean, by the way--then you have some rethinking to do. A lot of it. And easing up on the drinking and slash or drugs wouldn't hurt, either.
But to get a bit closer to the point, these pirates I speak of are, in fact, movie pirates: the fine people, wherever they are, who provide us with the one-dollar, guy-sitting-in-the-theater-with-a-Sony-Handycam DVDs that we are so fond of watching. Or so fond of trying to watch, since they don't always seem to work out, as you know. (Witness, for example, the Bridget Jones fiasco.)
Anyway, we watched Collateral Sunday night and it was … interesting. Not just for the subtitles--which didn't disappoint, as you will see--but also for the dubbing. The problem was that some of the sound was "off" during certain parts of the movie. For example, there's a scene with a shootout in a night club. That part was fine; however, the next scene--which takes place in a taxi cab--was less than fine because, in addition to the correct taxi cab conversation, we were also treated to the sounds of the nightclub shootout. Again. And at a very high volume, so that we couldn't actually hear what was being said in a cab.
The thing is, I'm not really sure how this whole sound-thing works, since everything I know about movie piracy comes from the Seinfeld episode where Jerry briefly becomes the guy in the theater with the camera. I had always just assumed that the pirated copies were made--as I said above--by a single person with a video camera. But if that's the case, how do they separate the audio from the video? Very confusing. Is there someone else in the theater with a microphone just to pick up sound? And if so, why would this mysterious sound pirate sit right next to a gigantic speaker that was apparently putting out table-vibrating levels of bass, like the Collateral sound-pirate apparently did? (If there was one.) And what was the deal with that person with the umbrella? I mean, it was a sunny day! Um, sorry--wrong conspiracy theory …
But back to Collateral. As you can imagine, this ongoing--and incorrect--second soundtrack made it very, very hard to watch the movie. And to make things even worse, as annoying as it was, there were only two scenes where the wrong soundtrack was so loud that it made it impossible to hear what was actually being said. Needless to say, these were--as far as I could tell, what with the not being able to hear--two of the most important scenes in the movie, including the very last scene. I mean, what exactly did Tom Cruise say to Jamie Foxx on that MTA train?
If anybody has a clue--or, better yet, a complete version of the shooting script as a text file--please tell me! I tried to turn on the subtitles, but they weren't much help …
Local Dub: The Return.Yes, the subtitles in Collateral were, as usual, almost as good as the movie. Well, for fifteen minutes at least, at which point I turned them off, mostly because they make the movie really hard to watch without spending the entire time laughing. Which is fine for a comedy, but not for Collateral.
Anyway, here are a few bon mots from the movie. Remember, these are all just from the first fifteen minutes--and the first three minutes are dialogue-free--which should give you some idea of the overall subtitle "quality." I would comment on them, but really, they speak for themselves …
Taxi directions in Collateral:
Max: I said the 105 to the 110--that will get you there quicker.
Annie: The 110 turns into a parking lot around USC.
Max: But once you get to Le Brea north of Santa Monica, then it's jammed.
Taxi directions with subtitles:
Max: The however yonder public order is not very good.
Annie: Can I must go there?
Max: I think and may want donkey years, because there affirmative now traffic jam.
Introductions in Collateral:
Vincent: What's your name?
Introductions with subtitles:
Vincent: What name do you call?
And my favorite, swearing in Collateral:
Woman: Oh, that's bullshit!
Woman: Break Wind!
Break wind, indeed.