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Jan Josef Liefers,
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In the start of the 90'ies the British government decided to send prisoners with short sentences to serve abroad. Some went to Rumania, to serve in schools, orphanages and hospitals. Some were brutal beasts.
Axel, a handsome young guy is always on the hunt for women although he already has a girlfriend, Doro. One day he is caught in the act with another woman by Doro and she quits the relationship and throws him out of her apartment. Seeking for a new home, Axel is introduced to Walter, a homosexual, who finds Axel quite attractive. Walter takes Axel to a gay party where they meet Norbert, who has a big apartment and is more than willing to let Axel stay for a while because he thinks he can seduce him. Meanwhile, Doro finds out that she is pregnant from Axel and now she tries to get him back, not knowing that he lives among homosexuals now. This gives room for a lot of funny incidents between the gay world and the straight world. But will Doro get Axel back or will he stay with Norbert instead? Written by
Harald Mayr <email@example.com>
This is yet another of those cases where Anglosaxon audiences might be tempted to think that it reenforces their prejudice that German humour is a no-show.
The problem can be described in one word: subtitles. I (a native German speaker) watched the UK release which is the original German version with English subtitles. The dialogue of this film is very funny and sharp; it is quite different from contemporary funny English dialogue which usually goes for funny one-liners, it has more in common with the humour you find in Oscar Wilde, for example in The Importance of Being Earnest. In other words, the characters are constantly trying to (literally) outwit each other whilst keeping the conversation afloat. This kind of dialogue is quite fashionable in certain parts of German culture, but at least in Britain it has become fairly rare. Consequently, the translators had a difficult job on their hands.
Occasionally my eyes wandered towards the subtitles to see what the translators did with the latest banter - and I was appalled with what I found. Yes, the translation was factually accurate, i.e. the content of what was said was accurately translated, but all the wit, the sharpness, the humour had gone. As already mentioned, this was a difficult translation job, but the translators did not try hard enough.
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