Posts Tagged ‘Tarzan’


Here are a couple facts:  I’m trying to get back into studying French, and I love love LOVE the old Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies.  I was weaned on them.  Grew up on them.  Fantasized about living in the jungle in a treehouse just like him, only as Sheena, Queen of the Jungle.

So anyway it’s only logical that a few weeks ago I at long last used an Amazon gift certificate I received at Christmas and bought the brand-spanking new double TCM sets of all eight Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies.

Talk about being a happy kid again.

Who knew that these DVDs could be educational?  I mean, these babies have French and Spanish subtitle options!  So of course I just had to check out Tarzan Escapes with the Frenchie part turned on.   And you know what?  My French is plenty good enough to know that 1) half of what’s being said ain’t being translated, which is typical for a lotta dubbed movies, and 2) punchy, colorful, slang-filled Tarzan movies just don’t translate so well.  You might say in another language they lack a certain je ne sais quoi.

Here’s a sampling:

Miss Parker:  “Before we accept your very kind offer.”  (Avant de partir… “Before leaving…”)

Tarzan:  Jane sorry?  (Jane triste?)

Jane:  I’ve never been so happy in my whole life (Au contraire.  Très très heureuse.)

Great white hunter:  Come on, speak up, man!  (Parlez!)

Or:  Get the men ready to move! (Il faut partir, i.e., “One must go.”)

What really doesn’t work for me is Tarzan saying stuff like “Jane partir?  Jane pas heureuse?”

At least there are a couple of bright spots in the translation.   It being a 1936 movie, there’s the inevitable and embarrassing racism.  A couple times the Great White Hunter refers to the native porters/guards as “boys,” as in “Send the boys for water.”   Happily this order is translated as “Envoi chercher de l’eau” – just a neutral “send” with no boy mentioned.  The “boys” reference is dropped elsewhere too.

In other scenes, these grown African men are at least referred to as men (hommes), as in “Get the men started, Bomba, we’re going up,” which nevertheless gets chopped down to a mere “Nous montons, Bomba.”  Then there’s “Men say no go, Bwana.  Men say ju-ju,” which becomes “Hommes pas vouloir, Bwana. Ju-ju.”

Oh well.  At least by turning on the French subtitles I can tell people that I’m not really vegging out while watching a fun old movie.   I’m busy studying French.

I’m In Over My Head

on July 11, 2009 in Misc Comments Off on I’m In Over My Head

My thighs won’t stop hurting.

Oh God, they just won’t stop hurting!

You know when you’ve done some really strenuous exercise or tough physical work that make your quads kind of burn?  Well, take that burn, ramp it up a thousand degrees, and make your calves as weak as watery jelly so that just walking hurts so freaking bad all you can do is lie on your sofa and whimper.

That’s me after my first parkour class.

I had it yesterday.  Two agonizing hours.  A hot July day.  The gym has no air-conditioning.  Contrary to my expectations, there are no other females in the class, but what really makes me stick out like a big red pimple is the fact that I am far and away the oldest person in the class.  Old as in I could be the mother of my fellow students and teacher.

Then there’s the nonexistent fat.  There are six guy students and me and I swear to God I’ve got more fat in one butt cheek than all of them put together.  The older ones (as in twenty-something) have lean bodies and sculpted muscles, while the teenagers seem more gangly than strong.  But looks can be deceiving. One kid was just standing there when he suddenly popped off a back flip.

Shit.  I am so in over my head.

But the amazing fact is — the glorious, fantastic, and to me truly inconceivable fact is:  I kept up with those guys!

Yes, I’m paying for it now.  I’m paying for it in buckets and spades and gobs of ibuprofen, but damn it all I hung in there and didn’t wimp out once.  And everyone treated me as if I were one of the gang.  I really am proud of myself.

Then again, it stung my pride to be slammed flat up against my limitations.  I thought I was slim and in reasonably good shape?  Reality bites.

For this first class, the instructor and gym co-founder Matt (perfect body, is available for stunt work in movies) began by measuring each student’s abilities.  My broad jump sucked.  Chin-ups were done with hands facing outwards because in the real world where parkour is done (and in thriller novels like The Compass Master) that’s the only way to pull yourself up over edges of buildings/walls/fences.  The guys knocked off multiple sets.  I couldn’t do a single blasted chin-up.

“Not one?” Matt’s assistant asked is surprise.  Ouch.  Layla can do a dozen.

But I made up for it with lots of sit-ups and push-ups, and Matt pronounced my squats as “perfect.”  Of course my swelling self-respect came crashing down during the two hundred million shoulder rolls we had to execute.  After one of my less successful efforts Matt muttered, “That was just silly.”

Anyway, it was the quadrupedal exercises that did in my quads.  That means butt down, chest and head up while moving around on flat hands and feet like a drunken chimp, whether in the quadrupedal/chimp gallop with a hands-feet-hands-feet swing or the more muscle-crunching walking.  You try doing that when proportionally your legs are twice as long as a chimp’s and your hips are built for you to walk upright like a normal human.

Hence there we were, trying to scamper about like Cheetah in an old Tarzan movie, alternately moving fast and slow, forward, backwards and sideways, then mixing it up with broad jumps, sprints and shoulder rolls.  Oh gosh darn, could I have more fun while suffering from screaming thigh pain and with sweat running down my body?

I was scrambling about on the floor, wheezing and panting, when a question popped into my increasingly dizzy brain:  why on earth would Layla Daltry do any of this crap?  Have I made a big mistake signing up for this wretchedly tough class?

Just as I was ready to throw in my sweat-drenched T-shirt, Matt casually remarked, “This is a great way to move in the dark across unknown terrain.”

Come again?

“This is also a great way to move down a steep slope,” he added, and later talked about how we must learn how to jump and land silently, and how we must move as if there were no barriers to stop us.

Well, in my novel I have Layla spidering down drainpipes and silently moving across roofs and climbing up buildings, always at night and usually across unknown spaces.  Hence — damn it all! — parkour is probably the kind of sport Layla can perform like a dream (except maybe not the flips).  And that means I’ve got to do it.

Nine more classes to go.