Another dead language comes to life onscreen
If Mel Gibson thinks he’s had the last word on movies in dead languages with his Latin- and Aramaic-lingo “The Passion of Christ,” he’s wrong.
In France, author and filmmaker Philippe Carrese has penned and directed “Malaterra” (Cursed Earth), the first-ever film in the medieval Oc language — with the help, bien sur, of a translator.
Languages don’t come much more obscure.
Even in its heyday, Oc was confined to southern France and a small part of bordering Italy. Though songs and poetry have lived on, as a spoken language, it fell out of use 100 years ago.
While controversy surrounds Mel’s yet-to-be-released “Passion,” “Malaterra,” a potboiler set in a remote Provencal village, has won only praise.
The made-for-TV movie received a standing ovation at its subtitled bigscreen premiere in Marseilles recently. It was also a ratings hit when it was aired by pubcaster France 3 Mediterranee on New Year’s Eve. During the show, the pubcaster’s audience share doubled from 7% to 16%.
Carrese, who recalls his grandparents speaking Oc, hopes “Malaterra” will also get released theatrically.
“Even if you don’t understand Oc, it is lovely to listen to. This film is a way of keeping it alive,” says Carrese.