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Wednesday, June 11, 2003

L’Auberge Espagnole: Euro MTV Real World

I just can’t watch most American movies. If a movie has a well-known American star I stay very far away. You don’t have to rub my nose in shit very often before I learn the lesson. I hate the stars and all of the baggage they bring with them to the one-dimensional roles they inhabit. I prefer foreign movies simply because I don’t know any of the actors involved. The only actor I recognized in the current film L’Auberge Espagnole was the gal from Amélie (Another foreign film populated by no-names).

I won’t go on here to tell you that this was a great movie but I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed it for a number of reasons. I studied abroad for a year and a summer when I was in college and I identify with all of the fun and frustration that goes along with dealing with lots of other cultures. I have also lived in Europe and identify with the movie’s lesson that it is up to the individual to bridge the gaps that separate us as citizens of the world. I was reminded of countless conversations I’ve had with groups of Europeans, of how we all jockeyed to find the most suitable language for the conversation, and how much fun it was to talk about music or politics with a group representing five or six countries and a couple of continents in whatever language or languages suited our immediate needs.

L’Auberge is a truly polyglot movie. It is a French/Spanish film but the characters speak as much English as they do French and Spanish. It must have been a very confusing movie to subtitle. I am fairly comfortable in French and my Spanish is fairly fluent so I tried not to read the subtitles. I lost track of what language was being spoken many times during the movie.

L’Auberge is pretty silly, more of a TV sitcom if the truth be told. There was one rather profound moment when an African student offers his opinions about identity. The man from Gambia says he has his outward identity--that of a black man--but he also has other identities. He speaks Spanish and claims that identity as well. I think he very well could be speaking of national as well as personal identities. This idea seems especially pertinent in these times when our president is trying to alienate every other culture on the planet. I think that Bush’s anti-French stance is merely pandering to the worst in American xenophobia.

I think the best way to rebel against our president’s anti-intellectual stance is to go see this film. It is also a way to rebel against the endless onslaught of terrible films being thrown at us from the corporate Hollywood juggernaut. Vive la France! Viva la diferencia!

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