MovieChat Forums > Incubus (1966) Discussion > Does anybody know why they chose to do i...

Does anybody know why they chose to do it in Esperanto?


Who decided to do it in Esperanto and why?

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The reason for doing it in esperanto was that at the time, they thought it would be an international language and would guarantee it worldwide success. As said on the commentary, I believe, that the audience would be 300 people in Chicago, another 200 in New York, and then that would exhaust the number of people who spoke esperanto. AS soon as the movie was done, everyone realized that it was a really dumb idea. AS it stands now though, the movie is pretty creepy in the Seventh Seal kind of way.

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The reason for doing it in esperanto was that at the time, they thought it would be an international language and would guarantee it worldwide success

Well, Esperanto is an international language in that it's spoken between nations. But I think you're wrong about this. Esperanto was introduced in 1887 and Fundamento was published in 1905. Hell, Ido, Interlingua, and Occidental had already come about by 1961. By that time, I'm sure no one really expected it to become the world's language rapidly; people are too negative and too attached to their native language to allow that to happen. More people speak it now than in 1961, though it appeals to two kinds of people: language geeks (such as myself) and idealists, both of which are extreme minorities.

I believe, that the audience would be 300 people in Chicago, another 200 in New York, and then that would exhaust the number of people who spoke esperanto

LOL, there are more native Esperanto speakers than that.

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There are NO native Esperanto speakers. It's not a natural language.

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There are native Esperanto speakers. There are children whose parents speak Esperanto at home resulting in the children learning and speaking Esperanto as a first language or in conjunction with a national language.

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Your conclusion fails to follow from your premise and is also incorrect. George Soros and Daniel Bovet are/were a couple of rather well-known folks who grew up speaking Esperanto. Surely there are plenty of less-accomplished ones.

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Indeed there are. I like showing this video to people as an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzDS2WyemBI

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My vote history: http://www.imdb.com/mymovies/list?l=13037287

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Now a million people can watch the movie without using subtitles, supposedly and I guess that number is growing.

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I'm learning Esperanto. It's actually really fun and easy to learn.

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I've spent little bits of time, here and there, playing with this language. I'd venture to say that you can pick up more of this language in a month of casual curiosity than you could studying hard in any other language for 3 months (or even 6, depending on the language).

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I heard that using Esperanto, as a universal language, was symbolic of universality of the mortal realm. It gave the location where the characters lived as a sort of "Anytown, USA" flavor rather than them specifying exactly where on earth they were. I can't tell if I'm explaining it properly.

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Hey! How do they say "Space... The Final Frontier" in Esperanto?

"A voice from behind me reminds me. Spread out your wings you are an angel."

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Spaco... la fina fronto. Tioj estas la vojagxoj de la stel-sxipo Entrepreno. Gxia kvin-jara misio: esplori strangaj novaj mondoj, sercxi novan vivon kaj novajn civilizojn, iri kuragxe al kie ne homo estas irita.

(Note: Certain Esperanto characters are not supported by HTML, so official alternatives are used: cx = c with ^, gx = g with ^, etc.)

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Actually, there are Unicode characters supported by HTML, as evidenced by websites that print in languages with other alphabets. I downloaded a Latin font with the circumflexed letters, but I forget where. Anyway, here's the translation of the same:

Spaco...la fina pionirejo. Ĉi tiuj estas la vojaĝoj de la stel-ŝipo Entrepreno. Ĝia kvin-jara misio: esplori strangaj novaj mondoj, serĉi novan vivon kaj novajn civilizoj, iri kuraĝe al kie neniu homo estas irita.

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The film's producer, at least after the fact, also claimed that he thought a language other than English was better suited for the material:

"I never liked the idea of seeing World War II movies where the Germans and Japanese characters spoke English," explains Taylor. "I thought the idea of having devils and demons speak English was a similar thing. Also, we thought it would help get us into the art houses."

Check out this article from Salon.com, with plenty of interesting background:

http://archive.salon.com/ent/movies/feature/2000/05/03/incubus/index.h tml


Stuck in purgatory.

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[deleted]

I read it was to give it an otherworldly feel.

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Doing it in Esperanto was a nice touch but having Shatner and his sister speaking it as well was a bit much. I believe that having only the demons speak the language would've been more scary. Regardless the movie is still pretty awesome.

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"I read it was to give it an otherworldly feel."

That's essentially it. By the mid-1960s, when Incubus was made, just about everyone knew that Esperanto (or any other artificial language, for that matter) would never become a global lingua franca. With its Latin roots and borrowings from half a dozen European tongues, Esperanto sounds both familiar and foreign to most people, or at least to most Westerners. Having all the dialogue spoken in Esperanto, which is nobody's first language, gives the film a sense of taking place in an allegorical universe or some alternate reality.


All the universe . . . or nothingness. Which shall it be, Passworthy? Which shall it be?

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According to Bill Shatners book Up Till Now...

"Leslie Stevens told me "There are seven million people around the world who speak Esperanto, and there has never been a picture made in Esperanto.""

Apparently all the actors and actresses where taken to an Esperanto camp in Californias red wood forest to learn it and Leslie Stevens told everyone on set to speak only in Esperanto.

Brilliant!

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Brilliant indeed. Now if they could teach all the cast Esperanto for an obscure, low-budget movie, why can't they teach German to big-name actors like Tom Cruise and Kate Winslett for big-budget films in which they play Germans (who, inexplicably, speak English)?

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Because they would not be able to speak it without an accent and would not, therefore, sound like real Germans (although they might fool some of the audience).

After 7 to 10 years of age, human beings lose the ability to acquire a second language without an accent. Our mouths lose the adaptability required to produce the sounds unique to each language; we can successfully produce only the sounds that are common to both languages.

(Btw, I'm a translator.)

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I think I'd be part of the audience that would be fooled -- at least enough to think the film was somewhat authentic. It always distracts me when English-speaking actors play non-English-speaking characters without learning the real language, but that's Hollywood.

Good point on the lingering accents, though. Even excellent English speakers like Catherine Deneuve and Liv Ullmann still have traces of their native tongues, but I find their accents very charming.

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After 7 to 10 years of age, human beings lose the ability to acquire a second language without an accent.


Citation to back this up, please.

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Somebody told me it was originally to make the film more bizarre and otherworldly.

There is some great background on Esperanto in this new book called "In the Land of Invented Languages."

Let's just say that God doesn't believe in me.

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More information about the making of Incubus can be found in David J. Schow's The Outer Limits Companion, a very useful book on Leslie Stevens' career.

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