Gojira from the perspective of a foreign film convert

I have never been a lover of foreign films. I find myself easily frustrated by subtitles and my inability to understand the language being spoken.

This is altogether surprising to me as I come from a home where another language is spoken. While my linguistic talent is somewhat limited, despite an exchange, French or more accurately creole has been spoken both around me and to me for my whole life.

My mother’s side of the family are from Mauritius. Mauritius is a small island with a population of just over a million, that sits on the East coast of Africa. Mum was born in the capital Port Louis and moved here when she was seven. My grandmother, whom we call mémé, speaks only limited English and so for love (and our sanity) creole is the dominant language. Subsequently out of habit, mum and her siblings often slip unknowingly in and out of English and creole.

So in regards to my dislike of foreign films and especially subtitles, upon reflection, this truly is dumbfounding.

But when I think about it, creole has become familiar to me and my way of understanding the world. The Japanese language and the film Gojira however, were not. So, when Chris first told us that we were going to watch to watch Gojira which is obviously in Japanese I thought, “oh my god how? This is going to be a long two hours!”

By the end of the film I was hooked. I was personally invested in the characters and the emotional and ethical issues that the film presented. I found this surprising because my supposed dislike for foreign films assumed that I couldn’t relate because of the language barrier.

Because that’s why we all watch movies, right? Well I do. Like any story I hear, I search for what is relatable to my life.

Gojira presented so many tangents that I could think about such as historical references, romance, ethics, nationalism and so many more. There are so many different ways to access the film, which made me realise that films are layered with so many human elements that will stretch across any language barrier.

Perhaps I do like foreign films after all.

 

 

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6 comments

  1. I can seriously relate to this post a lot. My parents were both born in Lebanon and my father didnt move here till he was about 25,so he is almost completely strictly Lebanese with some small falls into English now and then. So i’ve grown up with a lot of foreign surroundings, language and culture and traditions brought over by my parents. Yet, like you.. I truly do not enjoy foreign films.
    I’m not quite sure what it is about them that I don’t like, maybe it’s just the fact that I dont give them a chance?
    When I watched Gojira, I was very much interested. I didnt expect so much drama, so many historical references and emotional journeys that happened during the film. More so than we think, “foreign” films include the same kind of film aspects we look for in western films.
    This definitely can possibly be apart of “the other” stigma that Asian culture has. I think we see these films as “other” films instead of films we can also enjoy and relate too.Similar to how a lot of people see the Asian culture itself. I’m glad Chris is showing us these films and documentaries because its definitely opening our eyes to see Asia as another culture instead of the other culture.

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  2. This is awesome! being forcibly made to watch a foreign film for uni and then figuring out the reason you didn’t like them was not in-fact the reason you originally though! I’d be super interesting to see if the case is the same for other foreign films or narrow it down to something else entirely.

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  3. It’s intriguing that you don’t like foreign films. I suppose here in Australia we don’t really accommodate for foreign films in our cinemas and our society probably holds the same view you have. You mentions subtitles as being off-putting and I completely agree with you. It is hard to focus on the cinematography and the visuals of the film itself when you are trying to read the words at the same time. It takes away from the experience a bit. Do you think if you knew the language you would be more inclined to watch films that are similar to “gojira”?

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  4. I, like you, also thought foreign films just weren’t the thing for me… Until I watched Gojira. I think a lot of the time we decide not to watch films that are outside of our comfort zone and what we’re used to because of the effort we have to put in to actually watch them. Watching a film is typically supposed to be a relaxing time but a lot of the factors that were shown in Gojira, like the black and white colouring, subtitles, and outdated film techniques, meant that we were having to pay much more attention than usual.

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  5. It’s really interesting how you linked your family background to this – great autoethnography! Personally, I find it really difficult to watch foreign language films with English subtitles, even though I make English captions for English-language media. The disparity between hearing and seeing is tricky, I guess. Thanks for encouraging this introspection 🙂

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