Friday, March 27, 2009

Viggo Mortensen -- being Good

As a kind of post script to the last entry in this odd journal, I'm going to talk about Viggo again for a couple of minutes, and his new movie, Good.

I was over at YouTube, getting the trailer to plug in here, and couldn't help noticing that there's a bit of a furore brewing up over there. Most of it is about Nazis, Germans, Jews, Israelis, Palestinians and so forth -- and I really don't want to get into that ... I'm not qualified, honestly! There's people who know 100 times what I know, about all those subjects, and they're out there on the web, whanging it out all the time: they've said everything, fifty times each. Nothing left for me to add, and if I did, I'd either get it wrong or get everyone steamed.

But one thing on the discussion about the movie, Good, that seemed (to me) to be silly enough to be worth a post here is this:

A fair few people say they're "bothered" be the fact that Viggo and Jason Isaacs are playing the parts of Germans, using English accents. Apparently these viewers would have preferred to hear Viggo and Jason speaking with German accents.

Hunh?! Here's the problem. We hear German accents when German people speak English. But in Good, all the characters are German, speaking German, as German native speakers, in Germany.

No way in the world would you hear German accents! Think of it like this: the whole movie has been translated out of German into English. You just wouldn't, shoudn't, couldn't, hear an accent like Max von Sydow speaking English! (And incidentally, I could listen to Max von Sydow all night.)

Making a movie about Germans speaking German in Germany, they only had two choices: 1) have everyone speak German and subtitle it; or, 2) have everyone speak English that sounds as perfect to the ear as proper German would sound to native German speakers.

Now, the question of "should Viggo be speaking with an English accent?" comes up ... and it's pretty plain to me that since all the characters are German etc. etc., then you have no choice but the stabilize the accent used in the movie to ONE accent. Jason Isaacs is English -- so is everyone else in the cast ... I know, because I bothered to go to the movie's IMDb page and check! So, since they're all English barring Viggo ... if someone wanted to have Viggo speaking with his American accent or his Danish accent, they'd have to coach everybody else in the movie to speak with the same accent as him ... that's a huge amount of work, to make 10 people match up with one!

Why bother, when Viggo already "does" a gorgeous English accent (Aragorn), so he can mesh with the rest of the cast without problems.

This seems to be such a weird thing to me. It's just about the last reason I could think of for people saying, "I'm bothered by an American speaking in an English accent, playing a German." I mean -- duh. It's so obvious, I shouldn't have to be saying this!

Eye candy now, anyone...?!


  1. The movie is based on a play, which was written by an Englishman and was originally performed in English with traditionally English accents. It has been assumed that this is why the movie is done with English accents...go figure.

  2. Thanks for the info, Abbybell ... I didn't know that! Must see if I can track it down.