Outstreched arm

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Why must he be the thief?

I'll never understand the desire to absolutely kill the music, mystique, and sharpness of certain movie titles by subjecting them to pointless English translations. My favorite(?) example is Dario Argento's classic over-the-top, Eurotrash giallo film Tenebre - just say it, rolling the 'r': tenebrrrre. Now guess what it was called in its original US release. Darkness? (The literal translation.) Blood Bath? Crazy Killer? You wish. It was called... Unsane. It's not even a word, and with good reason.

This rant was inspired by my learning of the original title of De Sica's classic The Bicycle Thief: Ladri di biciclette. It's such an awesome sound to roll of your tongue. Or, Mario Bava's odd, Peckinpah-like madfest Rabid Dogs: Cani Arrabbiati (highly recommended, by the way, though it's not available on... any format. Try some MPAA-angering apps.)

I'm trying to catch up on some classic movies, and I had not seen this one - Ladri - before tonight. It's sad that my strongest response to these is either "yes, it's grand" or "what's all the fuss about", but I won't attempt a meaningful essay a century too late. I was thoroughly impressed by absolutely every aspect of the movie (well, minus the non-restored transfer.) I feared that the psychic lady would turn out to be a plot device, or anything but an ironic blotch; I feared that there would be a quick turnaround at the end; and I got slapped in the face for my low expectations. Serves me right - and suits me right.

It may be a trivial measure of great filmmaking how much is done with a mud-simple premise (the theft of a bike). Here, however, it becomes a compact life journey that never reflects on its own pathos. The bike indeed means life or death, and the search for it is as dilemma-ridden as a doomsday scenario.

P.S. The reason I don't provide a plot summary for this and similar movies is that you should really see them for yourself.

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