20 September 2011

Limitless: Is the language really shocking?

After watching Bradley Cooper's latest flick Limitless last weekend, I was curious to know what his character Eddie Morra says in the film's bilingual scenes.

Googling the topic, I was astonished to find a number of claims that Morra's French and Mandarin in particular are, in fact, complete gobbledygook.

'Yahoo! Answers' user Antoine, who apparently hails from Quebec and is married to a native Mandarin speaker from Beijing, says: "The French at the beginning is total gibberish, just saying a bunch of words fast, there's not even a sentence
in there.

"The Chinese, at the end, in Mandarin, is just as bad. He's ordering two lobsters, then the waiter says, 'So you want neck napkins?'... and [Eddie] says something that remains a mystery."

If true, this is all a bit shocking. Surely big film companies should be respectful enough of other cultures to ensure that any exchanges in a foreign language are grammatically correct?

However, as I researched further the mystery deepened. Firstly, I discovered that Cooper is fluent in French. In an interview published on MyMovieMundo.com, he says: '...In order to pull it off you can’t just speak it; you have to inhabit it as if you talk all day in that language. And I had a freebie with French because I speak French.'

He's also said to have given interviews in the language while in France promoting the film.

It seems Cooper's Mandarin wasn't entirely hopeless either, but rather a clever play on words, according to movie blog Cinaptic in review 'Bradley Cooper's Limitless Mandarin Chinese'.

Having no knowledge of Mandarin myself and only A Level French, I'm still no closer to solving this debate. If anybody else can shed light on the issue or has an opinion, please post your comments below.

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