This is a very interesting question that I have thought about myself, since
I include European film in my courses.
I rationalize my doing this when my knowledge of the original languages
does not allow me to understand every spoken word by telling myself that it
is legitimate to see the films as windows into a different cultural world.
While it would be nice if the window were less foggy, it is better to
introduce my students to the culture than to let them remain unaware of it.
All of us could come up with funny stories about mistranslated subtitles,
but very few of those examples would likely be so terrible as to completely
distort the overall meaning of a film.
If one understands the culture well and can show students how key
historical and social issues are represented in the cinema of other
nations, I think that is pedagogically sound and justifies using films even
when we must depend on subtitles for the dialogue.
What do other people think about this?
Department of English
University of Missouri
>this is a question to all of you who teach film at universities:
>Do you consider it legitimate to teach a course on national cinemas of
>countries whose language you don't speak so that you will not be able to
>give any attention to the dialogues in their original language? Or do you
>consider this a violation of academic standards? So, as an example, would
>you teach a course on New German Cinema only if you speak german or would
>you dare to just rely on english subtitles in your own understanding of
>I am asking because I think about teaching a course on asian cinemas but
>I am very unsure about this project as I do not speak nor understand any
>Freie Universitaet Berlin
>Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite
For past messages, visit the Screen-L Archives: