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Translation Possible

Short film
+86 21 6391 2068
Shanghai, China
+86 21 6391 2068
info@shanghai.goethe.org

A film by Susanne Horizon Fränzel supported by the Goethe-Institut

Content

In TRANSLATION POSSIBLE, linguistic and cultural boundaries are overcome, wordlessly and in a surprising visual manner.
A Western woman moves uncertainly through Shanghai. Everything here appears to be different: while she moves forward, everyone else walks backwards; bicycles and the cars, too, move backwards. A Chinese man notices her, the stranger. He submerges himself in her world and he shows her his world. Both experience that the strange is no longer strange as soon as it becomes familiar.

Description

Understanding others has become even more important in the age of globalisation. We travel more often, for shorter periods, and faster.
How will we communicate in the future with people all over the world with whom we build up relations through holiday trips and business? We can learn English, we can learn Italian – but what about Kisuaheli, Korean, Russian or Mandarin?

How do we feel once we have left the familiar international atmosphere of the airport and are confronted with a gesticulating taxi driver and the first symptoms of stress when we try to calculate the foreign exchange rate?

What is the make-up of that fine balance between curiosity and retreat which we attempt to adjust when we grope along a street in a foreign country in search of the train station and try to ask our way with a map in an Esperanto of Germanenglishlatinandfrench and despondent gestures?

How much of the new can we bear, how do we respond to the still strange “masses”? How do get in touch with others, extend our feelers and perceive signs that are directed to us?

In TRANSLATION POSSIBLE, we see how speechlessness and the incapacity to communicate make cultural experience and understanding impossible. The backwards / forwards walking symbolises that the stranger cannot understand the people round her: she quite simply fails even to buy a map of the city and to find her goal.

Through the humorous depictions of TRANSLATION POSSIBLE, the viewer comes to open himself to the problems of speechlessness in foreign surroundings.
If the film is used for language learning and similar goals, the represented situation of speaking and acting at cross purposes paradoxically becomes the occasion for an exchange about misunderstandings. The amusing circumstances that here make language the theme serves as a stimulus to talking about communication and difficulties of communication.

The film’s comedy is the result of the fact that the spatial and cultural “derangement” creates patterns of behaviour which are perceived as paradoxical in the new, foreign place. The stranger moves in her “normal” way (forwards) through a world that moves the “wrong way round”.
Only when the woman meets a young man who takes her under his care does it become possible for her to perceive the culture and language in their “right” form and thus find access to the foreign culture. The collision of cultures is resolved only through communication and the use of language.

http://www.goethe.de/shanghai

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