Thursday, November 27, 2008

Relative Accents

It’s Thanksgiving in Spain. Which means, another working day like any other day. We’ll be having a Thanksgiving dinner with some friends on Friday evening….more about that in another blog entry.

For today, let’s “talk” about an interesting conversation I had with another of the hikers at Despeñaperros last Sunday. We were talking about Spanish actors in American movies, and vice versa. When American movies are shown in Spain, they have Spanish dubbing, rather than subtitles. Now, many movie aficionados seem to think this is blasphemy. After all, you´re not hearing the original speech. (Of course, I expect it´s appreciated by the majority of moviegoers!) There are Spanish actors who make a career of doing voice-overs for specific American actors. Apparently, the actor who does the voice-overs for Clint Eastwood is the same one who does them for Arnold Schwarzenegger. So when Arnie appears in Spain, instead of speaking with a heavy German accent, he speaks in impeccable, accent-free Castellano. Go figure. Clint Eastwood has a deep, rumbling basso voice in Spanish movies. Spanish audiences just can´t identify with higher-pitched voices from their leading men.

There are a number of Spanish actors who have appeared in both Spanish and American movies: Paz Vega (Spanglish), Penelope Cruz (Vanilla Sky), Antonio Banderas (The Mask of Zorro), and others. I´ve found it interesting to hear them speaking accented English in American movies, but accent-free Castellano in Spanish movies. It really changes the character.

It also turns out that there are American actors who have appeared in Spanish movies, speaking Spanish. For instance, I´m told that Viggo Mortensen and Gwyneth Paltrow speak very good Spanish. (My friend´s comment was that Viggo has less of an American accent than I do. Hmm.) John Wayne apparently spoke Spanish…all three of his wives were Hispanic women…but he never spoke Spanish in a movie.

The real value of a stay in a foreign country is learning to see familiar things from a different point of view.

No comments: