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Living with Foreigners: Part 6 – Cultural Movies

January 9, 2017

I hate to say it, but I wish that my wife would start watching Hallmark and Lifetime movies again. Normally, I would absolutely dread saying that but it turns out that my sweet wife has found an even more inane source of entertainment. Yep, you guessed it – Ethiopian movies on YouTube.

While with Hallmark and Lifetime movies, although the plots were usually predictable, they at least had a semblance of a plot. In Ethiopian movies there doesn’t seem to be strong discernible plots at all. Usually with Hallmark or Lifetime movies there is someone that is either deathly ill, or a victim of domestic abuse,  or a firm believer in the magic of Christmas to spur the asinine engaging movie plot on. This is apparently not the case with Ethiopian movies.

As near as I can tell, Ethiopian movies are almost always about either a wedding or a murder plot or a love triangle with seemingly mandatory shots of Ethiopians dressed in traditional wedding attire or talking on cell phones. They also strangely  feature cars a lot- like people driving cars or getting into cars or having cars in the background for no clear reason.

The subtitled dialogue also leaves something to be desired. I think this is because the creators of the films hired an interpreter that purportedly spoke English but definitely misses the finer points of grammar or native language flow but I might be mistaken. It’s equally possible that they might have forgone the option of a translator altogether and instead opted for an Amharic to English dictionary instead. For example here is an excerpt:

Older Lady (an aunt of the main character): “What is the nagging beginning from now?”

A Main Character: “My aunt, Who did nag?”

Older Lady: “You and your husband. I don’t think your husband is not comfortable with the coming of this man.Why don’t you distance him if your husband did not like him? Let him not come. This is the devils temptation. Pray well.”

It continues on in this vein for about another hour. Needless to say by the end of most movies, I find myself struggling to even remember basic grammar.

The films also strangely feature an exorbitant amount of close-ups, even when it would seem like it would make more sense to film two people talking to each other in a single frame. Also the camera almost never actually pans so it’s basically like watching a single video recorder flipping back and forth to stationery scenes of people talking or doing something- in the most recent movie, it seems that grown men enjoy cracking a whip for entertainment.

All told, I long for the days of a good Hallmark movie where everything turns out alright in the end and the whimsical daughter of a downtrodden baker turns down the corporate offer to franchise her beloved father’s bakery and ends up with the irascible but rich town bachelor. At least with those movies I could count on some professional camera work and a plot that I could follow along with.

Here’s a link to one Ethiopian movie in case you ever get really bored one night: Mensut (A word which my wife doesn’t even know the translation of coincidentally. For now, I’ll just assume it means “a terrible movie.”)

Update: Apparently Mensut means something akin to “being raised up” or maybe even “resurrection”. Also- please note the opening theme music which is unabashedly ripped straight off of Game of Thrones.


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