‘See At Least One Subtitled Movie A Month’
See at least one movie with subtitles a month.
This is Kwame Anthony Appiah’s injunction to the audience at a Fordham conference on global citizenship over this past weekend. Appiah, the dazzling University professor at Princeton, believes in conversations across cultures. Such conversations, he hopes, will help us to understand one another, perhaps even inculcate global feelings.
Some might argue that this might lead us to recognize what we all hold in common. But Appiah believes in difference as well. The conversation might lead us to recognize what divides and differentiates us as well.
Appiah is not a cultural relativist: tolerance, he notes, suggests a view as to what is not to be tolerated.
So here is my question for you: Have you learned something from watching a film with subtitles (and, if so, what film)? Did it reveal commonality or difference?
My example, by a foreign filmmaker, but still in English (thus violating the exact terms of Appiah’s injunction, but still, I think, preserving his intent): Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain. Brokeback is the classic Romeo and Juliet story, two star-crossed lovers in a society that forbids their love. Yet, the particular forms of society’s disapproval—and especially its violent nature—are unique. Sameness and difference.