Monday, 26 February 2018

Period film and the use of language.

I know I can sometimes be a little picky but one of the things that drives me mad is when I'm watching a modern film set in days gone by which has been written by a young person. Now I have nothing against young people per se, after all I was one myself once, but their language skills leave a lot to be desired, especially if used in a period film.

The modern Estuary English is one of the most grating I've ever had the misfortune to have to listen to, especially the use of "like" as a punctuation mark and the peculiar way of pronouncing any word ending "ility" which sounds as "iliteee", I'm sure any of my older readers will recognise exactly what I'm describing. Even worse when these pronunciations are transferred into a period film.

I happened to catch a moment of "The Archers" on the radio where a character who was a grandfather and I imagine perhaps in his sixties or older was asked to do something and replied, "I get it, I'm on it," not the sort of language I usually hear from people of that age and I suspect a line written by a much younger person.

In the previous sentence I used the word "radio" to describe what would be called a "wireless" if you were writing for a piece set in the 40's or 50's, I'm sure I'm not the only person who finds these mistakes really annoying.

One of my all time favourite films is The Dam Busters, which tells the story of  The Dam Busters raid in 1943, where 617 Squadron led by Guy Gibson flew with bouncing bombs, invented by Barnes Wallace to destroy the Mohne, Eder and Sorpe dams in Germany. Because the film was made in 1955 and based on a true story they used language which was correct for the period, including the correct name for Gibson's dog called "Nigger."

The film was shown in 1999 on ITV and the word "Nigger" was edited out, which I find ridiculous as this was the historically correct name, I suppose it will eventually come to the point where we will be teaching history to modern children and omitting names like "Vlad the Impaler" and "Adolf Hitler" and just referring to them as "the naughty man."

During my lifetime the word gay has had at least three meanings and should be used accordingly in whatever period one would be writing for. The first meaning is happy, as in "We had such a gay time at the dance I didn't want to leave," then of course, "he's so gay, he's as camp as a row of tents." Lastly a meaning I'm not so familiar with as it is a modern version, "Oh, your so gay," which I'm informed means, you're such a loser. Then, just to confuse matters, or as they might say to "queer the pitch" we have more options for the word gay which would be right in a period drama, that of faggot or queer, nancy boy, or just nancy.

To me there would be nothing worse than watching a period drama about Bletchley Park where Alan Turing was refereed to as "gay" for in the 1940's he would have been called homosexual, a nancy boy, or queer.

There is nothing worse, when watching a World War Two drama with the dialogue, "What ho, Squadron Leader, dam good show on the raid last night, frightful shame that Bunty bought it though."  "Yes old boy, he was a dam good egg." When written by a modern young person comes out as "Wa gwarn bredrin, sick raid last night, gutted Bunty's dead." "Yeah man, he was an OG." To put it bluntly dialogue written like that just doesn't cut the mustard when written for a 1940's drama.

I was going to continue with a discussion on the use of the word "darkie" which whilst being correct for something set some many years ago may be the final straw as far as the blogger algorithms of today are concerned, so before my blog is closed down, I shall stop whilst I'm on a winning streak. 




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