Friday, February 06, 2009

Objection!

Look, I can't live without IMDb, same as the rest of us. Bitching about it would be pretty pointless. But I'm going about today, looking up info on Meryl Streep for work, making sure this year was her 15th Oscar nomination and not 16th or 35th, when I look at her list of career Oscar nominations and see one in 1988 for a movie called Evil Angels. Now. I'm not gonna say I'm some kind of expert. But I know Oscar history pretty well. Particularly during the timespan that I have been alive. But this freaked me out, because I had never heard of such a movie, and certainly I hadn't heard of Meryl getting nominated for it. Am I an incomplete Movie Guy? Or worse, and incomplete Meryl Fan?

Of course, I clicked on the link and saw that -- DUH! -- in 1988 Meryl was nominated for A Cry in the Dark. "Evil Angels" is merely the stupid Australian title. Because apparently "Dingo! The Baby Devourer" wasn't classy enough. Whatever. Anyway, this is what drives me crazy about IMDb, that they list any foreign title, even now apparently English-language movies that were made outside the U.S. Which means I have to travel the long way to find out that "Wu Ho Cang Long" is "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." Or that "Le Scaphandre el le Papillon" is "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly." I'm not being xenophobic here -- I love those movies. I'm just ... okay, I'm probably being a little xenophobic. Whatever! It's not "Le Internet Database du Cinema"! And PLEASE don't start down that slippery slope where English-language alternate titles like "Evil Angels" start showing up. You're a database. More clarity, not less. Thank you.

16 comments:

J.D. said...

This is not new, Joseph?

Joe Reid said...

I'm sure it's not. But I decided to have my Andy Rooney moment with it anyway.

J.D. said...

So they should be expecting you back at the home soon, I take it.

Joe Reid said...

Listen, junior...

J.D. said...

:D

I'm rarely this good, don't stop me.

ON-TOPIC, I've always really liked the foreign titles as the default. It's like cheating at learning a language. But I'm a nerd like that. It is rather annoying - if understandable - with English language films, though.

jessica said...

In all fairness to Joe, there is like NO WAY even movie goddess Meryl Streep gets nominated for that role if the US title is "Evil Angels," come on. That sounds like the direct-to-DVD third sequel to a teen sex-horror set at a remote Catholic boarding school.

JA said...

I mourn the fact that I live in a world where this is not a movie called Dingo: The Baby Devourer for me to see, own, sleep with every night. If I ever start making movies of my own that will be one of them, I promise you all right here and right now.

Linda said...

How come remotes have so many buttons? TOO MANY BUTTONS!

zarathelawyer said...

It's definitely a crap name, and I don't want to defend this annoying IMDB habit or anything, but I do - as an Aussie - have an explanation for this one. It probably lists the Australian title first because it was actually an Australian film, so the US title was the alternate title, not the other way around.

No matter how crap the original title was.

par3182 said...

let's not start a stupid australian vs stupid american thing; we have far too much ammo in that fight...

not only is evil angels the film's original title but it's based on john bryson's book of the same name

surely you're not suggesting a cry in the dark is a good title?

Glenn said...

Indeed. If the movie was American then A Cry in the Dark would make sense at the top of the page, but it's not. Sure, the majority of IMDb readers identify it as that title, but Evil Angels is it's ORIGINAL title from it's COUNTRY OF ORIGIN. It'd be quite insulting to use A Cry in the Dark purely because that's what Americans know it is.

Australians wouldn't expect the page for (example #293) Four Christmases be changed to Four Holidays just because that's what it is called here.

And the foreign language title is a slippery slope. So many titles use more english-appropriate titles or slight variations on the foreign title so, what then for international readers who wouldn't know what's going on.

Besides, if you search for a movie's english title it almost always comes up with the english title below the link to the movie's page so it's not hard.

JOE, I'm not impressed.

:P

Joe Reid said...

Okay, okay. I understand national pride for your little island and all, but "A Cry in the Dark" IS a better title than "Evil Angels." (Though I'll stand by "Dingoes!" as my preferred title of choice. I just don't expect it to show up on the imdb page.)

Ben said...

Weird. I had the EXACT same situation a while ago. I was looking at Meryl's nominations, and was very confused by that title.

The Professor said...

I had a similar experience a few years ago with Luc Besson's "The Professional" which apparently most everywhere else is actually known as "Leon" (a really, well, I guess prosaic title). But I'm willing to accept the principle of "We list the title under what the original release had it listed."

What irks me more sometimes (although this is even more unavoidable) is when some movies have more than one title for other sorts of reasons (i.e. "The Great Santini" is sometimes also listed as "The Ace" or "Chicago Cab" is sometimes also known as "Hell Cab"). Very infuriating, and while most of the time iMDB tries to cover all these bases, it's not always 100% clear.

kin said...

And it is especially worse for Chinese films because it is nearly impossible to figure out the phonics even if you are a Chinese speaker (like I am). If you are going to go with "the original title", might as well go with the Chinese characters so SOMEONE can benefit from this.

ht said...

I get really irked by websites that forget they are on the *world wide* web, and not just catering to the US, so I like that imdb does this.