S tebou mě baví Shakespeare

Homero Maria SimpsonAs she puts in the movie it’s the first moment all afternoon she hasn’t talked about how the movie is a Czech classic and how it’s been rated the number one comedy in Czech history. I have long-since promised myself that I am going to love this movie – out loud – even if it’s the Czech equivalent of the latest Demi Moore film (stop trying to figure out what that was, it does not matter).

The title comes up: S tebou mě baví svět (I enjoy the World with you) accompanied by the most recognizable music in the entire history of the Czech Republic. The film is about three married guys who want to take a ‘Guy’s Weekend’ in the mountains and whose wives allow them on the condition that they take their children. About fifteen minutes into the film the men and kids are in the mountains skiing and being awkward with each other.

And about ten seconds after that, for the rest of the film, I am laughing in a manner that is illegal in Amish communities and in most Midwest states.

Though at first thrilled that I am so enjoying this film, my friend begins eyeing me coolly, as you would a significant other who gives in too quickly in an argument. And truthfully, it’s not the film that is making me laugh – though it is a charming and sweet film – it’s that the subtitles are in Shakespearian English.

Three year old boy in a state of rapture, sledding down a hill: “Father, it is we who scamper along on the finest snows in the Giant Mountains. We are filled with glee! Are thee troubled by our glorious escapades?  

Dad: “Danger is afoot! Come thee back, fair offspring!

This subtitled translation and my laughter continue throughout the remainder of the film, landing me in a heap of trouble by the end. In contrast to most times I am in trouble, I can’t really understand why. The film was funny, I laughed, and I wasn’t trying to mock the film. But, all the same, I am in trouble.

As I fall asleep on the couch that night, I assume it’s because I laughed at the wrong things.

I have told this story a hundred times and it isn’t until a few months later that I finally get a glimpse into why my friend was upset.

The benefit to watching M*A*S*H in Czech is that I have an encyclopedic knowledge of each episode and an audiographic memory thanks to a nine-year M*A*S*H addiction. The downside is watching and hearing Hawkeye Pierce speak in the exaggerated masculine Czech voice that the voice actor employs. This goes the same for Homer Simpson, as the actor emotes the voice of a man who’d make Forrest Gump look like Stephen Hawking. It’s so extreme and unnatural that it’s like hearing a good friend speak in Michael Jackson’s voice.

In a poll taken shortly after I decide to write this blog post, 35 of 42 students prefer the Czech version of Homer Simpson and Hawkeye Pierce. After watching short clips of the original actors speaking (Alan Alda and Dan Castellaneta), those numbers go to 38 of 42. Insult is partnered with injury when they tell me that the man who does Hawkeye Pierce also does Marge Simpson. Marge Simpson!

D’oh! (Cz: Oh!)

To punish them for all of this, I tell my S tebou mě baví svět meets Shakespeare story and get looks and scowls as though I have just used the Dalai Lama to club a baby seal. Arguments ensue, generating a good discussion about why we are so protective of our nation’s classics. One student brings up a great point:

What would Shakespeare think about his language being used to translate a Czech comedy?


  1. #1 by Emma on November 15, 2012 - 1:33 pm

    There are times when I truly hate you. This is one of them. I have been whistling Sladke Mameni for the last ten minutes. I do not see this situation changing any time in the near future. Screw you.

  2. #3 by Andy on November 16, 2012 - 12:58 am

    Hark, tears roll from mine eyes,
    as doth mine chest heave in glad bellows!

    • #4 by Damien Galeone on November 16, 2012 - 9:08 am

      And now, my fair cousin, do enjoy doth knowledge that thee hath me given a right giggle as well. And, as once again into the breach, to the bot of go and the gentlefolk of the 101st.

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