As Good As It Gets


     The English class I take this year at the university is a psychology class with movies. Students watch the characters in the movie and think about their mental problems. It’s kind of diagnoses. And then we think how people solve their problems and are healed. 

     We are now using an American comedy movie entitled As Good As It Gets released about 10 years ago in 1997. The leading actor is Jack Nicholson, who wan an Oscar by the movie that year. 

     Melvin Udall acted by Jack Nicholson is a sarcastic and selfish writer who lives alone in an apartment in New York, eats the same food at the same restaurant every day. He is afraid of germs because he has a mainly obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. (There’s an interesting episode. Many people who have the same disorders came out with their problems after releasing the movie because Melvin is quite cool on it.) As he generally hates people, he doesn’t get along well with any people, and is always lonely. However, he opens up gradually to the dog who belongs to one of his neighbors, who is a gay artist. Although he and the artist have hated each other, they become friends at last. And Melvin is awaked to fall in love with the waitress who works at the restaurant where he goes every day. And… 

     I saw the movie by DVD four times; dubbed into Japanese, Japanese subtitles, and English subtitles. (I saw two types Japanese subtitles, I mean translate is different between my DVD and the one I saw at the university. ) Frankly, I’m very surprised to have different impressions when I saw the same movies by four difference ways.  

     To tell the truth, I don’t like to watch movies dubbed into Japanese. (I’m sorry, Japanese voice actors!) Their voices are unnatural and always disgust me. (I’m sorry, Japanese scenario writers!) Besides, sometimes translated speeches are terrible! Of course, I understand that Japanese scenario writers and voice actors’ effort are great because Japanese and other languages are different and they have to fit the original actors’ actions.  

     I prefer to watch movies with Japanese subtitles, but I cannot stop being surprised at the differences of the impressions on the movies by the differences of the translators. I saw the same scenes by the two DVDs whose Japanese scenarios are different. I cannot say which is better, but my impression on each is different, and I thought that it’s a little dangerous to understand something by the translated words according to circumstances. 

     By the way, the dog on the movie is really cute! Her act was wonderful! If the producer hadn’t found the dog, the movie might not have hit so much. The dog doesn’t look a dog, looks an alien on Star Wars or Gremlins, though… 

     It is said that the title had been Old Friends until just before the release. The title As Good As It Gets is difficult to understand for Japanese. That’s why Japanese title means a love story writer. It comes from Melvin the main character’s occupation. The translator could think hard about the title when he or she entitled. It’s really difficult to find fit expressions by translating.     

    If I could enjoy movies without subtitles…

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