Dubbing needs drubbing


I confirmed and reconfirmed no fewer than three times that the film I went to Berlin to see would be in English (its original language) with German subtitles. But you just can’t trust the Germans when it comes to dubbing versus subtitling. Turns out it was dubbed into German – except for the songs, which were subtitled. Yes, it’s a musical, and therefore primarily music.


But that doesn’t mean you have actually subtitled the movie when all the dialogue is forcing Ryan Gosling to speak unnatural German. In that sense, it was a hilarious footnote to this adventure – I would not, as I told someone afterwards, watch a dubbed movie at home if someone paid me to do it, but today I spent considerable time, effort and money just to get to and watch a dubbed movie. However, it is a testament to the power of the film that I could still leave feeling moved and crying. I didn’t expect to – with all the hype, it being a musical (two strikes, automatically), not being particularly fond of Emma Stone either way and not that keen on what appeared to be a love story. Not to mention that it didn’t grab me the first minute or even in the first 20 minutes (especially, of course, because it was in German haha). But even in English it really wasn’t doing it for me. I don’t know when or how it changed, but there were small moments that started to win me over.

But again I can’t even be irritated about the dubbing. The experience of just running off and doing something different and virtually unplanned was enough. Uneventful flight, gorgeous but bitterly cold Berlin weather, visiting some favorite sites, everything running smoothly and on time, nice lunch at Jewish restaurant, Masel Topf, in Prenzlauer Berg, watching the police assigned to guard the synagogue pace back and forth.

And good film, if a bit strange – like the time I saw a Norwegian film in Mexico before I ever lived in Norway or gave Norway or Norwegian a second thought. As soon as I sat down in the cinema, I thought, “Hmmmm.” Norwegian voice, Spanish subtitles. Brilliant.

I did figure out finally what made me feel I had fallen out of love with Berlin when I was considering moving there last year. It was that for me it is not a city to do by myself/by oneself. It has always been something I explored or wanted to explore with someone, so wandering around alone actually felt empty. I had forgotten that I felt that way sometimes when I was working there. Other cities have not been like that – Swedish cities don’t feel that way to me, for example. But I feel a bit lost – not literally – but emotionally untethered without a Berlin companion, strange as that sounds.

And now it is definitely and desperately time for sleep – only about six hours to go until I can achieve that.



One of the biggest reasons I live the life I do and have cultivated the lifestyle I have is its flexibility and the ability to be spontaneous. Do I often do anything with that? Not in my opinion. From other people’s regimented perspectives, maybe it seems like it, but to me, spontaneous is buying a ticket to Japan in the morning and leaving in the afternoon.

The other night, Sunday, the internet connection in my house stopped working. I was already half-asleep and it was 2 a.m. so this should not have mattered to me in the least. But somehow it made me irritated, and thus wide awake. And suddenly, after speaking for some time about the film La La Land earlier in the evening, and getting excited to see it (even if it had not registered in my head before this conversation), I thought at 2 a.m., randomly, “This would be a good time to jump in the car, drive to Oslo airport and fly to some city where the film IS playing!” (I had already checked to see that it’s not been released in Sweden or Norway yet.)

Exercising freedom and flexibility is always in my reach and I never take advantage, certainly not fully. This seemed like the right opportunity. Of course, is it rational to jump out of bed, where you’re already half asleep and dressed for sleep, get your things together, buy a ticket and go to Berlin (city of choice) just to see a movie that, even a day earlier, you would not even have given a second thought to?

No, pas du tout. But it was never about what is rational. Seems like lunacy, but it’s less about the movie and more about just doing something crazy and unexpected because I can. If I don’t have kids, complications, obligations (other than work, which I can do at any hour), should I not be taking full advantage of the freedom that that affords?

I didn’t do it when that middle-of-the-night urge struck – the internet connection started working, so my tiredness took over again, but I was halfway out the door and then spent the next day, Monday, debating whether I should go Tuesday instead. I was not as spontaneous as I might like to be – but now, sitting at the Oslo airport working for a few hours while waiting for a flight to Berlin, I can say that I was spontaneous enough at least to go for it the next day.

The last time I went to a cinema was in 2009; I had returned to Iceland to visit and saw whatever Star Trek movie was new that summer. And somehow have never returned. This seems like, if not a monumental way to break the dry spell, a novel and memorable one.