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janbb's avatar

Does anachronistic cursing bother you in a film?

Asked by janbb (62989points) May 15th, 2014

I just saw the movie “Grand Budapest Hotel” and was surprised how much I enjoyed it. It was a great parody of European culture and attitudes as well as a playful romp. But the main character who was supposed to be a cultured concierge in the 1930s kept using strong curse words. I’m not a prude by any means but I found it jarring – as I did the obvious American accents. (Wonder if it was done for a reason.) Anyone else ever notice this?

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45 Answers

antimatter's avatar

Nope, I think that’s they way people talks…

CWOTUS's avatar

Gadzooks, no!

Dutchess_III's avatar

The key word here, guys, is “anachronistic.”

It would be like hearing Marc Anthony telling Cleopatra to “go f**k yourself, b**ch!”

janbb's avatar

@Dutchess_III Yes, that is my point. The character said “fuck” and “shit” several times and it just didn’t fit with the character’s suavity and the times. Doesn’t bother me at all in modern films when it is appropriate to the characters.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Sounds like a poor job of directing to me.

Dutchess_III's avatar

PS, I understood your question even before I looked up ‘anachronistic!’ That’s a helluva word! Where’d you find it? :)

non_omnis_moriar's avatar

I worked with some really old family hi brow people who use that word freely.

It is how people talk and I don’t give a shit personally. If its a good film, I’ll watch it and enjoy it.

janbb's avatar

@non_omnis_moriar Did you work with them in the 30s? As I said, I did watch and enjoy it.

mazingerz88's avatar

Have a feeling he’s just…supposed to be cultured. But not really.

non_omnis_moriar's avatar

A concierge is a type of servant. They did not emerge from the upper classes – rather the working class and, like a gentleman’s gentleman they had walk the walk but they never were part of that caste.

janbb's avatar

@mazingerz88 @non omnis moriar That’s a possibility. Maybe it is meant to be indicative of a split between what M. Gustav is and what he is trying to be. I hadn’t thought of that.

non_omnis_moriar's avatar

It’s a fact. A concierge is a glorified doorman.

Crazydawg's avatar

@janbb Did you ever watch an episode of [NSFW] Deadwood

Crazydawg's avatar

@janbb Even I blushed at their rampant use of 4 letter vernacular.

BhacSsylan's avatar

@janbb He was a Lobby Boy to start, same as Zero, so it does fit that it may be from his upbring. And he’s highly insecure, so I would not be surprised if a lot of that insecurity comes from the fact that he was operating in a sphere well above his original station.

Also keep in mind that this is Wes Anderson, specific details are chosen for their facility to the story, and rarely any historical accuracy (which goes with the American accents instead of those ‘appropriate’, though what’s appropriate for a totally fictional country is hard to say).

dappled_leaves's avatar

Is it so impossible that he would actually have sworn in that time? Or do we just not expect it because Katharine Hepburn and Jimmy Stewart couldn’t swear on film? It doesn’t bother me. I think our expectations are unrealistic, based not on actual behaviour in those times, but on the rules of conduct in films made in those times.

Unbroken's avatar

Loved deadwood but I think the vernacular was true to the time, in by best estimate. I could be wrong though.

Didn’t watch the Grand Budapest Hotel and am unaware of the time but curses have changed significantly in the past.

The director could be doing this intentionally to make the film seem more relevant in this time, or it could just be something that was overlooked. If you overall enjoyed the film but were jarred by it I would say that was the intention… But the is based on pure unadulterated assumptions.

longgone's avatar

I’m sure it’s intended, as it’s so well-thought-out on the whole. Can’t believe Wes Anderson would have overlooked something like that. Not that I noticed. I liked the movie, too!

mazingerz88's avatar

Deadwood rocks. :)

Crazydawg's avatar

F’n right @mazingerz88 Deadwood was the best F’n show to hit F’n cable F’n ever! :)

josie's avatar

Dramatic license. Plus people have been saying fuck and shit for a long time. It simply was never considered OK to put it in a movie until recently.

JLeslie's avatar

It bothers me in film and on TV shows. I like when people in real life or even on a show throw out the f bomb or a good old fashioned shit when I don’t expect it from them. It can be funny, and feel real. Too much of it can sound stupid and contrived, and then it bothers me. I think it is the show Suits where I hear them say shit a lot, almost every episode, and I wish they would stop it.

Kardamom's avatar

Gene Kelly would never curse in a movie. That’s one of the things I like about him.

Brian1946's avatar

I don’t know what curse words are used in the film, but according to this, the first known use of “fuck” was in 1503.

Strauss's avatar

Anachronism is at least as old as Shakespeare. In “Julius Caesar (Act I Scene 1 lines 39–40) there is a mention of chimney-tops:
Have you climb’d up to walls and battlements,
To towers and windows, yea, to chimney tops,

There were no chimney-tops in ancient Rome.

cazzie's avatar

I loved the Chinese cursing in Firefly. Anachronisms bother me if it is meant to be a non.fiction. I can otherwise forgive.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Yetanotheruser Why in the world would there not be chimney tops in ancient Rome?

Strauss's avatar

Per Wikipedia, Romans used tubes inside the walls to draw smoke out of bakeries but chimneys only appeared in large dwellings in northern Europe in the 12th century.

Strauss's avatar

@Dutchess_III Glad to be of service!

Dutchess_III's avatar

That’ll be fiddyy bucks @Yetanotheruser! :)

bolwerk's avatar

Fuck and shit are both several centuries old. So is cunt. To give you an idea of how old shit is, the German word for shit is “Sheiße,” and the two probably divulged linguistically well over a millennium ago. The French word for shit, merde, is similar to a Latin word for shit in graffiti found in Pompei: ut merdas edatis, qui scripseras sopionis (“whoever drew Sopios, let him eat shit!”). Newsflash: people have been talking about shit for a long fucking time.

It’s not that people didn’t say those things then, it’s that movies didn’t portray it. It’s actually what was considered acceptable then that I find amazing when watching old movies. I watched an old Spencer Tracy movie a few months ago where a character (Tracy’s) casually called a Chinese assistant chink. Like, “hey, Chink, hand me that newspaper.” I can’t say I’m shocked or bothered or surprised by it, but it’s definitely jarring to see racism presented so casually. To put this in context, the movie would otherwise today probably be a G or at most PG rated romantic comedy.

janbb's avatar

Of course those words are several centuries old but I can remember a time when they were not used in daily parlance and not just in the movies. My mother, who was quite liberal, was shocked at some of the words I picked up in college. Not that people weren’t aware of them, just weren’t used all the time as they are now. I’m not being a prude as I said; I just found it anachronistic but that may have been on purpose.

@BhacSsylan Did you see M. Gustav as insecure? I didn’t.

Dutchess_III's avatar

This is a whole other subject, I know, but I get SO distressed at the word “bitch” being thrown around so freely, especially by women. It’s degrading to women.

non_omnis_moriar's avatar

I thought Deadwood was fantastic and the use of four letter words was hysterical.

I loved that show and never for the life of me could understand why the just canceled it – it was clearly developing some new character and plot and everyone I know loved it.

Sometimes very good show as suicided.

BhacSsylan's avatar

@janbb He’s actually explicitly called out as vain and insecure. Now, it is by Zero so he could be unreliable, but he doesn’t seem to be to me. He is also extremely capable, and that hides a lot of it, but I think a lot of his capability comes from constant worry that he’s not.

janbb's avatar

@BhacSsylan Interesting; I missed that.

BhacSsylan's avatar

(slight spoilers for those who haven’t seen it, I guess?) “He was the same as his disciples: insecure, vain, superficial, blonde, needy. In the end, he was even rich.”

janbb's avatar

Yes, now I remember but he wasn’t portrayed that way throughout.

BhacSsylan's avatar

Well, I think he was just excellent at hiding it, most of the time.

Pachy's avatar

I have to admit that I haven’t seen this film yet, partly because I haven’t been motivated lately to see any new movies, but mainly because its trailers put me off—it looked too stylized for my taste. I do suspect I would be bothered by the anachronistic cursing, as I usually am by any kind of anachronism in films, whether intentionally stylistic or simply accidental. I find they pull me out of the story. For example, as much as I liked the look of both “Moulin Rouge!” and “The Great Gatsby,” I found their use of contemporary music annoying.

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