Recently in Kobe a large cinema complex is holding a year-long special run of Academy-award-winning movies, which goes down very well with my beloved ladies (most of whom are film buffs, and fervent fans of all things American circa. 1960). They’ve all bought season passes, and have asked me to teach them “movie English,” which for most of them is the only exposure they get to spoken English anyway. I’m finding it an educational experience myself.
So far we have learned that English movie titles and their Japanese translations are often vastly different things. To this ends, last week I started a special course to explain American movie titles and descriptions, and I hold a little quiz at the end of every lesson in which I hand out cards with movie titles written on them, and we try and guess the Japanese title through charades and gestures.
A couple of days ago, one of my ladies drew a card naming a certain Oscar winning movie, and attempted to explain it to us through gestures. Being a former dance teacher, she had no compunction in getting up in front of the class and demonstrating her interpretation of the title. I was quite impressed! The dance was a vigorous one, involving flapping her arms at her sides and flailing her legs about in all directions at the knees. The most impressive thing, however, was the huge smile on her face.
“Singin’ in the Rain?” we guessed. Nope. “West Side Story?” “No … actually it’s not even a musical.” We were stumped. After a few more half-hearted guesses, we all gave up and she sat down, defeated.
“So?” I asked her. “What was the clue?”
“Why, Charleston, of course.”
“Yes, Charleston. Charleston Heston. You know, Ben Hur?”
Dear god. My stomach still hurts from laughing.