Translation Possible 2006
Distributed by Bullfrog Films, PO Box 149, Oley, PA 19547; 800-543-FROG (3764)
Directed by Susanne Horizon Franzel
DVD, color, 88 min.
Communication, Language, Media Studies, Travel and Tourism
Date Entered: 02/07/2008Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA
In this short film by German writer and director Susanne Horizon Franzel, the problem of alienation is presented in a light and engaging way. When a young German tourist arrives in Shanghai, she finds that everyone is moving in the opposite direction. People, cars, busses and even time seem to run backwards. Until she finds someone who can help her adapt to this new environment, she is lost in a world of distorted sight and sound. Only after making a connection with a resident of the city is the tourist able to make sense of her surroundings and enjoy her visit. When she returns home, she sees someone in a situation similar to one she recently experienced herself. Told with sound but not words, the film effectively illustrates how new settings can often be unsettling and disorienting. Also important is how a guide can help make translation of the environment possible, even without a common language.
Made with the assistance of the Goethe-Institut and German General Consultate in Shanghai, the film effectively engages the viewer in the question of the impacts of cultural and language barriers in our increasingly globalized world. The filmmaker combined interesting visual and audio techniques to present the feelings of alienation and adaptation. Recommended.