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The Iberian Horseshoe — A Journey

Part I. North West

Arctic Lovers — No dub

Steve Porter
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I was beginning to feel as if my every move was being watched. Kane had said we shouldn’t go out with students or make friends with English teachers in other schools. As it was Saturday, I decided to take in a film to relax and forget about it all.

I tried watching the odd British or American film but could never get used to dubbing. In fact, as time went on, I found it more irritating than ever. There was the shrill-voiced woman who monopolises children’s roles and turns many a great movie into a farce. Are cinema-goers not being shortchanged when Clint Eastwood’s image is accompanied by a gruff macho voice? And surely Woody Allen’s roles should at least sound soft and melancholy.

On the whole, Spaniards are very supportive of dubbing. After all, they are accustomed to it and think that reading and watching at the same time requires too much effort. You could argue, of course, that there are many in Britain who miss out on the pleasures of European and world cinema altogether for that reason. But when students are going to great expense to learn languages, it seems odd that they don’t get more opportunities to hear English spoken naturally in their leisure time. The Portuguese appear there to have a better level and grasp of English pronunciation than the Galicians. Perhaps it is no coincidence that more film subtitles are employed in Portugal.

That evening I looked up at the billboard. Snake Eyes was on but I didn’t fancy seeing Nicholas Cage talking out of time in a clichéd Spanish gangster accent. Instead I saw Los amantes del Círculo Polar — The Lovers of the Arctic Circle.

It is a film about Ana and Otto, a pair of childhood sweethearts. Both have single parents, who meet up and marry each other. Otto dreams of cold distant Scandinavia in the way the British dream of sun and palm trees. The teenage Ana and Otto are separated but a chain of unlikely events leads to them being reunited in Finland. The director, Julio Medem, is sometimes accused of overplaying the role of chance in life. Yet, this film is grounded in realism with broken relationships, adolescent frustration and death all playing a part.

Just recently, I read a news item about a Croatian teacher who was buried for three days under a pile of books after a shelf collapsed in his study. I could not write a story about that. It would be dismissed as too far-fetched. But life does not always follow the most probable currents. Therefore, there is no need to turn this book into a work of fiction.

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Copyright ©Steve Porter, 2004
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Date of publicationApril 2006
Collection RSSGlobal Fiction
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