Friday, December 31, 2004

You've seen the movies now visit the set!

Come to the US of A
And so Christmas has passed and the contents of the adverts on TV have changed with it.
We are now into the realms of New Year's Sales and where to go for next summer's holiday.

I think it's fair to say there won’t be many ads for vacation destinations around the Indian Ocean for the time being but the void on our screens is partly filled by a new ad plugging the USA as the place to visit in 2005.

The gist of the ad is to play a series of scenic shots accompanied by an appropriate title from a famous movie and the relevant film score …

  • Chicago
  • Sweet Home Alabama
  • Viva Las Vegas
The tagline is 'You've seen the movie now visit the set'
Nice idea.
But, speaking as a veteran of many trips to the US, I think they've picked the wrong movies. My choice would be something like …
  • Deliverance
  • Mississippi Burning
  • Goodfellas
  • Scarface
  • Taxi Driver
  • any Chevy Chase movie, say, Fletch
which would make an altogether more visceral and compelling advert.
AI Artificial Intelligence was on TV last night. We hadn’t seen it before. If there ever is a Film Abortion movement in the future this piece would be Exhibit A in the case For. This film licks donkey nuts - in fact at least ten donkeys' worth.
Aside from its sheer awfulness, AI Artificial Intelligence is notable for being a recent addition to the long and illustrious list of movies that had their titles changed because a large portion of the American domestic audience couldn’t deal with it. The original title was AI, but market research discovered that many Americans read that to be A1, a popular brand of steak sauce. Consequently the title was amended to the tautological AI Artificial Intelligence. Having now seen the film I think I actually would much rather it had been about the zany adventures of a bottle of condiment.
Reasons for changing film names in the USA include:
  1. To make the content of the film more explicit. Consequently, the vaguely commie sounding Leon becomes The Professional
  2. To cash in on a craze. Hence my much beloved Witchfinder General became The Conqueror Worm, named after an Edgar Allen Poe short story because Drive-In movie fans in the late 1960's wanted to see films based on EAP's works. Amusingly, Witchfinder General has nothing to do with The Conqueror Worm except for the sound of Vincent Price reading an extract from the story over the credits; tacked on as an afterthought as part of the renaming process.
  3. A huge number of Americans cannot understand big words. And so Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone becomes Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and the James Bond film Licence Revoked becomes Licence to Kill. Yes, the American general public understand the word Kill but can't handle Philosopher. That says a lot doesn't it.
Aside from being extremely annoying when searching for film reviews on the web, this retitling thing shines a light on the human psyche, particularly the American and, latterly, the British psyche. After all, it's not just films that get a title makeover is it?
Wars and politics are ripe for application of 'more appropriate' titles; Mercenaries become Independent Contractors, Freedom Fighters become Insurgents become Terrorists, Civilian Casualties become Collateral Damage, War Departments become Defence Departments and so on. Personally, I'm a purist in these matters and prefer sticking with the original titles and language, subtitling where necessary, but reading and watching pictures at the same time is so hard, isn't it.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree the advert does need different films but what is the tune that is on the advert? i recognise it but don't know what it is!!!