10 May 2009

Star Trek, and movie watching in France vs. Switzerland

filed under: journal  :: france  :: house hunting  :: movies  :: star trek

I've only mentioned this on my About page, but I am a long time Star Trek fan. At one point in my life I even was the type of Trek fan (Trekkie, Trekker, whatever) that went to conventions (though I never got into Trek cosplay). For what it's worth, I have autographed photos of all of the captains except for Jonathan Frakes/Scott Bakula. Yipes.

My Trek fandom started at an early age, when I used to watch the original series in repeat on British television, then later, dubbed (!) on Japanese TV. I was especially fond of the mythological references, since I was also deeply into Greek and Roman mythology at the time too (Who Mourns For Adonais? is one of my favorites from the original series). Later on, I became a fan of The Next Generation, though the first couple of seasons were a bit hard to get through if I recall. I love and still love DS9, and Voyager - well, even though the series itself had its ups and downs, it indirectly lead me to a very interesting period of my life, which I may talk about some time.

I lost my Star Trek obsession though somewhere around season 2 or 3 of Enterprise. I can't quite put my finger on why, but that series just didn't grab me. I still haven't watched the whole series yet. Still, it was sad to see it cancelled. And in the following years, the Star Trek franchise itself seemed to be dying slowly. They shut down the Star Trek Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton last year (yep, been there too). Star Trek fandom seemed to be relegated to the handful of diehard fans that the general public sneer at.

The general public would scoff at this too probably, but I firmly believe that a world without Star Trek going on somewhere is a world that is a bit less optimistic about the future. There are plenty of other great scifi franchises, from Star Wars to Stargate to Battlestar Galactica and more of course. Star Trek is the one that seems to have the most faith in humankind. That's the main reason why I've always loved its universe.

So, the new Star Trek movie.

I resisted reading too much about the new J.J. Abrams-helmed Star Trek movie beforehand - whether they were faithful to the 'canon' or not, whether this actor was suited to the roles they were taking over. What's the use of worrying about a movie before you actually see it anyway?

I saw the movie yesterday, and, as an old school Star Trek fan, I loved it. Forget about the nitpicky things like casting and how close they adhere to the established canon and so on; what I really appreciated about this movie is that, while adding a lot of modern things, it really did stay true to the spirit, the philosophy if you will, of this particular fictional universe. This is a universe where Starfleet is a force for good, with flawed yet ultimately fine, upstanding and heroic humanoids (no insect-like species or so on seen yet in Starfleet, only two-leggged ones) as officers.

I also liked that the cool-whizzy CGI/visual parts did not overwhelm the narrative. They were there of course, and very impressive indeed (I especially liked the robot-cops chasing after the young Kirk in one of the opening sequences) but they were definitely not the stars. The characters are.

And, not to spoil things, but I think overall the new bunch of actors taking over these by now mythic roles did a great job, both in terms of keeping the gist of the original characters and updating them. Zachary Quinto as Spock looks uncannily like a young Leonard Nimoy - as he might have looked about 10 years before he was Spock on the original series. This is a great achievement by both the actor and the makeup department. Actually, just about all of the characters are plausible, more or less, as younger versions of the original series' crew.

If this movie ends up rebooting the franchise and making a whole new generation fans of the Star Trek universe, as an old timer I'd be very happy. Live long and prosper, Star Trek!

Movies in France vs. Switzerland

I went to see the Star Trek movie in Lyon, which is about a 2 and a half hour drive away from where I am living at the moment, in the Provence area. Why such a long drive? All the theatres playing it nearer here had it (shudder) dubbed. Finding a version originale was difficult. Original language with subtitles is the norm in Z├╝rich, not to mention the Geneva-Lausanne area too (we often took a trip out there to catch movies that were released much earlier in French-speaking areas than in German-speaking areas), but apparently not so in most of France, with the exception of central Paris. (This is the case in Germany too.)

This could end up being a serious strike against the idea of moving to France. I don't go out to the movies every week or anything, but when I do I certainly want the original version. To me it's hard to fathom why anyone would prefer a dubbed version to the original, but apparently this is preferred by most people. (When we bought the tickets at the theatre in Lyon, the ticket seller warned us that it was version originale, I suppose to ward off complaints.)

Right now, I'm pondering whether a 2+ hour drive to Lyon, or even a 4+ hour drive to Geneva, would be worth doing on a semi-regular basis, should I decide to settle in this area. Living somewhere permanently is so different from going there on vacation, as I'm finding out in so many ways right now.

Comments on this post:

Glad you enjoyed Star Trek,

Glad you enjoyed Star Trek, i'll have to check it out.
By the way, i love the style of your blog, very minimalistic and calming!

I understand! I live in a

I understand! I live in a small French town about an hour from Geneva, and most of the films shown locally are version francaise as well! I will happily be going to Geneva this weekend simply to see the v.o. Star Trek.

Hey, Glad to see you are

Hey, Glad to see you are still active drop me a line we havent talked in ages .......

Although I envy your living

Although I envy your living in Europe, personally I think such a drive would be an impediment to fully enjoying the new home if I had to do it regularly.

I hope you figure it out and settle into a home that suits you.

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