What Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs” Gets Right About Japan | The New Yorker


14 bookmarks. First posted by farley13 april 2018.


Anderson is a white, non-Japanese director, but had he not been interested in the power dynamics behind translation, and instead made a twee fever dream imitating Japanese aesthetics, “Isle of Dogs” would have looked and sounded a lot different. His commitment to showing the daily rhythms of a living, breathing Japanese people reveals itself not only in his cast of twenty-three Japanese actors but in his depictions of how exactly a Japanese TV-news anchor transitions to a new topic (“This is the next news”), what milk cartons for elementary schools look like (labelled “extra-thick”), or how a couple of scientists might celebrate—with a clink, “Yo—oh!,” and a clap. The film invites a kinship with a viewer who will find these banalities familiar, and lets these moments flow by, unnoticed, for those who do not.
movie  japan  culture  language  translation  debate  power 
may 2018 by aries1988
As I walked out of the theatre, Anderson’s decision not to subtitle the Japanese speakers struck me as a carefully considered artistic choice. “Isle of Dogs” is profoundly interested in the humor and fallibility of translation. This is established early, by the title card: “The humans in this film speak only in their native tongue (occasionally translated by bilingual interpreter, foreign exchange student, and electronic device). The dogs’ barks are translated into English.” From the start, Anderson points to the various and suspect ways in which translation occurs. Official Interpreter Nelson, voiced by Frances McDormand, works for the government, but her reliability is thrown into doubt when she starts inserting her own comments—“Holy Moses!”;“Boy, what a night!”—while on the job. In one scene, she’s casually replaced by a little boy. The simul-talk devices, meanwhile, are shown to be operated by shadowy men in white starched shirts. This is the beating heart of the film: there is no such thing as “true” translation. Everything is interpreted. Translation is malleable and implicated, always, by systems of power.
april 2018 by cipherpolice
To say that the Wes Anderson film dehumanizes the Japanese is to assume the primacy of an English-speaking audience. Photograph by Fox Searchlight Pictures /…
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april 2018 by rudenoise
Briliant commentary on Isle of Dogs by Moeko Fujii:

hat tip to
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april 2018 by debrouwere
To say that the Wes Anderson film dehumanizes the Japanese is to assume the primacy of an English-speaking audience. Photograph by Fox Searchlight Pictures /…
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april 2018 by peterjblack
a nice read: What Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs” Gets Right About Japan
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april 2018 by mfwit
To say that the Wes Anderson film dehumanizes the Japanese is to assume the primacy of an English-speaking audience. Photograph by Fox Searchlight Pictures /…
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april 2018 by adrian802
This is the beating heart of the film: there is no such thing as “true” translation. Everything is interpreted. Translation is malleable and implicated, always, by systems of power.

That the Japanese person usually responds in the negative—of course we’re fine with Scarlett!—speaks only to the fact that Japan is a country with neither ethnic diversity nor a substantial critical race discourse. To be Asian-American, meanwhile, is to develop a brutal familiarity with seeing Asia, and Asian characters, distorted, passivized, and flattened by white hands.
movies  translation 
april 2018 by craniac
This perspective of 's “Isle of Dogs” by makes me want to see the film more. Thank you.
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april 2018 by danielcurran
To say that the Wes Anderson film dehumanizes the Japanese is to assume the primacy of an English-speaking audience. Photograph by Fox Searchlight Pictures /…
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april 2018 by mleduc