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Exotic dancer Mata Hari is arrested on suspicion of treason. Before her trial she is questioned thoroughly reveals her life story from her childhood in Zeeland, her marriage in Indonesia and her success and espionage in France.
Josine van Dalsum,
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This is definitely a soap opera version of the story of Mata Hari, complete with anachronisms, melodrama, and some strange dialogue.
The actors are from everywhere, and it appears the film was made in multiple languages.
While some of the actors, based on their lip movements, seem to be speaking English, some of them are clearly speaking different languages at different times, with no sense of rhyme or reason. Even within a single scene actors appear to be switching languages. From how it looks, there are times when the main character herself will be speaking some other language while other characters are speaking English, and times where her lips seem to be creating English-appearing shapes which match the dialogue, but she sounds as if all of her scenes are dubbed. In fact, many of the characters are clearly always being dubbed (probably for voice continuity, since they seem to be jumping from English to (Russian? Ukrainian?) randomly. The whole thing might have been redubbed, with those who always used English, like John Corbett, doing their own dub work (I know his voice well enough to know it was him speaking).
The other possibility is that half of the script was rewritten after the filming was done and they made the actors redo all of the dialogue while keeping the original film. Either way the result is a very strange audio/visual experience. If you watch, I'd try to avoid ever looking at the actors mouths. Too bad you can't also avoid listening to them, since a lot of the dialogue sounds like the bad acting of voice workers badly dubbing a Japanese fantasy movie, with more care paid to trying to fit the dialogue within the allotted space than bothering with things like emotion or story or even continuity.
It's also strange that regardless of what country we supposedly find ourselves, the majority of the characters have eastern european accents. Strong ones. Distractingly strong. Boris and Natashia from Bullwinkle strong.
Zero attempt was made at making characters appear appropriate for the time period. Gym-toned women dance around with perfectly shaved and moisturized bodies. Even the prostitutes and circus workers seem to be able to afford expensive day spas. Eyebrows are waxed and modern makeup adorns many faces. Clothing is made with modern fabrics (and people have far too many changes of clothing compared to what would have been normal for the time period and incomes) and everyone has perfectly cut hair in modern styles. Even the harsh orphan mistress had expensive highlights.
The whole thing is a bit bizarre, yet I found myself sort of mesmerized and binged the whole thing. I doubt I learned anything factual about the life of Mata Hari, as I'd originally hoped, but I can't say I wasn't in some strange way entertained.
The scenery and architecture are magnificent, and the costumes, while obviously modern construction, are beautiful. Some of the characters, while poorly acted, are never-the-less kind of compelling.The soapy story is interesting enough, even with the "moustache twirling," single level bad guys who seem to lack much personal motivation for their evils. I still wanted to know what was going to happen next.
It's one of those "home with a cold" or "up all night with insomnia" shows, where it becomes worth watching when you really have nothing else you could be doing. It's definitely not the worst series on Amazon Prime right now.
But boy, it isn't the best, either.
Edited to add:
Pretty sure it is a rewrite of scenes that caused the overdubs, because even American actors are frequently saying words that don't match their lips. They must have done a massive rewrite and figured it was easier to just have the actors reperform nearly ALL OF THEIR LINES. It's funny.
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