Can Good Sound Save a Bad Film?


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The Cut, Fatih Akin’s WWI-era epic, is about an Armenian blacksmith’s (Tahar Rahim) Odyssean quest to find his daughters. The titular cut refers to a wound he suffers early on, rendering him mute. Which is, for this badly written movie, a blessing. In fact, some of the best writing is contained in the title card, which reads, “Once Upon a Time…Once Upon No Time,” hinting at the Turkish government’s refusal to acknowledge the genocide of the Armenians. The Cut has pretensions of being a western à la Sergio Leone. That it isn’t. Still, Akin strikes a balance: the violence is neither restrained nor fetishistic, and many of the images are searing, including a macabre scene in which, under a pool of pale moonlight, the blacksmith nurses a woman on a field awash with anguished refugees.

After The Cut received lukewarm reactions at film festivals, Akin decided to dub the dialogue, most of which had been spoken in English, into Armenian. Though this, at best, cloaks the stilted writing, this bold method of dubbing the dialogue should be adopted by other historical epics situated in non-English speaking contexts. Often, in such epics, to acknowledge the country of origin, actors will don an accent like a costume. In other cases, say, Doctor Zhivago, no such attempt is even made, and we are left with a movie about the Soviet Union in which many of the actors sound as if they’re in England. The method of dubbing the dialogue is the most audacious, and the most authentic. The other sonic saving grace of The Cut is Alexander Hacke’s anachronistic score: comprising electric guitar riffs, it’s unsettling and interesting, a welcome departure from the standard template of classical music.

In Armenian & Turkish & Spanish & English. 

By Alec Julian & Carrie White

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