So, you may have heard of this little film that’s been having a bit of trouble getting released. It’s called Valkyrie and it stars someone by the name of Tom Cruise. It’s also directed by that guy who did the (sub) par Superman sequel and the two good X-Men films. Now, I’m not really a fan of either of these people, nor do I have a big interest in seeing Valkyrie, although I will say it looks interesting and will probably at least warrant a DVD rental through Netflix. The reason I’m talking about this is not to defend the film or it’s cast and crew, but because while watching the trailer I noticed something: no one had accents. I checked it out to make sure it was supposed to take place in Germany – with Germans- and it does. But I don’t think the lack of accents is necessarily a bad thing nor do I think it’s a huge fault. Hear me out.
Now some of you may vehemently disagree with me when I say this but I am a huge fan of Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette. I think it is actually my favorite film by her, although The Virgin Suicides is a close second (sorry Lost in Translation, but my fav over-the-hill Bill Murray film is The Life Aquatic). Anyway, one of the main reasons I love this film is BECAUSE of the lack of accents. First of all – and many have said this about pleeenty of films – is that no one would be speaking English in a foreign country, especially in the 18th century, with or without an accent!
So why do I think that Coppola made a great creative decision by still keeping the English but dropping the accent? I think that it creates a stronger bond between the characters and the audience (at least for Americans and it is an American film). 18th century is already foreign to us, but by donning an accent it creates further distance. I mean, I don’t have an accent, I’ve never lived in the 18th century and I have never visited France (except for in an airport). So by having her characters speak the way we do it allows us to think of these characters as people we know. We can further sympathize and empathize with them as well as allowing us to really feel what it was like for them. When I watch Marie Antoinette I see people like me dressed up in crazier outfits, living in crazy mansions and living crazy lives. But something about it all is also so similar. Sometimes you think (at least I do) people must have been so different 200 years ago. And Sofia Coppola is saying – “No, they weren’t!” By dropping the accent, I can actually understand these people better and I think it’s genius.
Now whether or not this will be the case with Valkyrie, I don’t know. I do think that if done right the same effect can be created. However, I can also see how it could be horribly misused. Fortunately, Coppola used it well and with precision. Whether Singer will, we’ll all find out. But for now let’s not knock on that aspect of the film until we actually see it. Until then let’s just poke fun at Tom’s eye patch.
What do you guys think? Fans of Marie Antoinette? Hate it with a passion (I know many of you do)? I’d love to hear some opinions on the matter!