A {Brave} New World of Cinema in Cambodia

Part of our anniversary date was going to see “Brave”, the new Disney-Pixar animated film. American-styled movie theaters are fairly new to Cambodia…actually, only a year old. It’s been fun to see Cambodians experiencing a real movie theater, with Hollywood movies. There are a few differences when watching films here, the greatest divergence being the language challenge. Most of the films are in English, and most of them do not contain Khmer subtitles (perhaps that could be Nate’s new translation project…just kidding!). While there are several Cambodians who know English, there is also a large portion of the population that does not. Inevitably, this means that someone will be translating for their peers during the movie. While this can be annoying, especially during the more dramatic scenes, it can also be very amusing. For instance, during the movie “Brave”, there is a scene when the witch says, “Everything in the shop is 50% off!”. This phrase was of particular interest to the translators around us, and they made sure to tell everyone about the unbelievable “50% off”. This is because “sales” as we know them in the States are relatively unknown here, and when they do exist, it’s usually somewhere in the ballpark of 5-10% off…NEVER 50% off. It was fun to hear all of the discussion that occurred after the phrase had been translated…”What an unwise woman to sell her goods for 50% off!” Anyway, you probably had to be there, but it was funny. Another amusing part was when the daughter is confronting the mother in loud and angry tones. Up until that point, there had been a fairly constant dialogue between the various English speakers to their Khmer-speaking friends, and then the Cambodians with each other, to further discuss the scene in Khmer…in other words, there was non-stop commentary on the film. However, when the Scottish princess dared to defy her mother, and in such a rebellious, disrespectful way, the audience gasped, followed by a long, sobering silence. You could almost hear the thoughts in the darkness, “What was this girl thinking?” “How could she defy her mother like that?” It was a really interesting commentary on  a society where elders are highly respected and this kind of action would be seen as the ultimate no-no. It made me wonder how audiences in the U.S. reacted to this scene, and if there was any reaction at all…Just some thoughts after going to the movies in Cambodia…

 

2 thoughts on “A {Brave} New World of Cinema in Cambodia

  • August 14, 2012 at 12:21 am
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    I was somewhat upset by it and was expecting the movie to be about her “changing her fate” through her independent spirit or something. The actual result was a present surprise, but I think most of the audience were probably not fazed by her rebellion, as culture is constantly trying to indoctrinate us to “be our own person” and expect tolerance and “love” from your friends. In this aspect, I think American culture is quickly losing an important virtue – respecting our elders. The 50% thing is funny! Thanks for sharing!

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    • August 14, 2012 at 7:51 am
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      It was a pleasant surprise for us too! We really enjoyed the movie and its portrayal of a real family with real struggles…and that only humility and forgiveness could mend the brokenness.

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