Cinema classics

This weekend I mentioned that I had never seen Grease, and next thing I knew, I was plonked in front of a television with a glass of wine and crisps and ordered to enjoy myself. It’s a film that had been on my "to see" list for ages, not so much because it is the type of film I particularly enjoy (dancing?? singing?? in a film??!), but because it is a classic. Every English speaker knows it, and it has become a cultural reference. As a translator, I need to know the cultures within which the documents I translate are produced to make sure I understand every possible nuance. School took care of the literature, society and history aspects of American and British cultures, but ignored popular culture, and in many respects, this is a crucial part of a culture: people constantly use films and TV programmes as reference points. For example, I never understood references to daleks and "tardis " until they made a new series of Dr Who. Then it all became clear.
So I watched Grease. It was fun (although it’s best not to think too long about the messages it carries and the most fun part was seeing my friends burst into song at the mere hint of a recognisable tune) and from now on I’ll understand references to "beauty school dropouts". Next on my list: E.T. Are there any classics you haven’t seen?

By | 2016-10-18T15:50:18+00:00 October 4th, 2006|Freelance Translation|8 Comments

About the Author:

I am Céline Graciet, a freelance English to French translator. Since 2003 I’ve been writing on all sorts of areas linked to translation and the life of a translator.


  1. Tony October 5, 2006 at 9:46 am


  2. Stephen Gobin October 5, 2006 at 1:16 pm

    Try anything with a camp/sentimental content and you won’t go wrong at all. The combination of campness and restraint is the bedrock of British popular culture. What was on BBC1 very recently? The search for the next Maria von Trapp! Camp as knickers. Then there’s all these dance-off programmes. Camp as knickers! See what I mean.

  3. céline October 5, 2006 at 2:18 pm

    I couldn’t have put it better Stephen. What is it about these dance-off programmes that makes them so entertaining?? I’m desperately attempting to ignore the one that’s starting next week, but then I might be shunned from the watercooler chats at work, so what’s a girl to do?

  4. Tony October 5, 2006 at 4:46 pm

    Never mind about all those films, Stephen: “Camp as knickers”?
    Gay as a paper hat, yes, but camp knickers are new to me. Is this because I don’t live in Brighton?

  5. Stephen Gobin October 5, 2006 at 9:14 pm

    And I’m afraid I don’t live in Brighton either, Tony (certainly a location whose inhabitants should exercise more restraint!). I live in the middle of the Cambridgeshire Fens where the next stop is the Wash.

  6. céline October 6, 2006 at 7:19 am

    Sorry Stephen, “restraint” isn’t a popular concept in Brighton, thank goodness.

  7. Tony October 6, 2006 at 2:38 pm

    What a sheltered life you lead, Céline. Bondage is VERY popular in Brighton.
    Why has your translation blog suddenly become mired in innuendo and sleaze?

  8. céline October 6, 2006 at 4:24 pm

    He he. Thanks for the laugh, Tony.

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