American actress imitating British accent?

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Ryo Furue:
Hello,
I may be mistaken, but I thought Claire Danes, an American actress, was trying to imitate British accent in the film "Les Misarable." If I'm correct, I wonder why she should.
The movie is based on the French novel of the same title, but the language of the movie was English. Watching it, I had some difficulty to hear what she was saying. I'm a non-native speaker of English, and I'm not too good at listneing comprehension of English. I can hear American accent fairly well and RP-like British accent so-so. But, her English was, to me, more difficult than both. I was wondering why so, and then suddenly remembered that she was American and shouldn't speak like that in her normal life. For example, she said "I kahn't." So I deduced she was trying to imitate the British accent.

I thought it awkward. To present a French girl, why should an American actress try to speak British English? Was that necessary to represent some attribute of the character she was playing? For example, the part she played was a lady from a noble family so that her language was a high-class French, and to represent that in English, she must employ RP, etc..
Thanks,
Ryo
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Don Phillipson:
[nq:1]I may be mistaken, but I thought Claire Danes, an American actress, was trying to imitate British accent in the ... family so that her language was a high-class French, and to represent that in English, she must employ RP, etc..[/nq]
This phenomenon is common in films,
because the context is complex. There are
no single British or American accents. As
spoken now (and probably in 1830 as well)
English and French are spoken many different
ways in England and France. Some differences
are geographic (regional) and others linked
to social class and education. Even people
who have never visited England are generally
aware of this: they do not expect the Queen
to speak like characters in East Enders or vice versa.

Where social class distinctions are relevant
in a movie, Hollywood's single commonest
method is to indicate this by voice, cf. choice
of British and American actors in period
movies like Quo Vadis.

Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs (Ottawa, Canada)
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Ryo Furue:
[nq:2]I may be mistaken, but I thought Claire Danes, an ... I'm correct, I wonder why she should. . . .[/nq]
[nq:1]This phenomenon is common in films, because the context is complex. There are no single British or American accents. As ... method is to indicate this by voice, cf. choice of British and American actors in period movies like Quo Vadis.[/nq]
I'm a little confused. Suppose the film is targeted at American audience (I don't know if that was the case for Quo Vadis) and is, say, a Russian historical drama. Then, do you mean Hollywood would use RP speakers for high-class characters and speakers of some American dialects for vulgar ones, for example? If the film is targeted at British audience, what would they do? Does that scheme work for, say, Australian audience, too?
Ryo
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Raymond S. Wise:
[nq:2]This phenomenon is common in films, because the context is ... British and American actors in period movies like Quo Vadis.[/nq]
[nq:1]I'm a little confused. Suppose the film is targeted at American audience (I don't know if that was the case ... film is targeted at British audience, what would they do? Does that scheme work for, say, Australian audience, too? Ryo[/nq]
The canonical example of this is *Spartacus,* in which the characters we are expected to sympathize with, the non-Romans, are played mostly by Americans: Among the actors playing slaves and/or gladiators are Kirk Douglas, Harold Stone (playing a Jewish gladiator), Woody Strode (playing an Ethiopian gladiator), and Tony Curtis, all of whom are Americans. The Romans are played by British actors, including Laurence Olivier, Charles Laughton, and Peter Ustinov. However, John Gavin, an American, plays Julius Caesar and Jean Simmons, a British actress, plays a slave from Britannia.

In The Robe Richard Burton, a British actor, plays a Roman tribune who converts to Christianity, so he starts out as a bad guy and becomes a good guy. In this film, Jean Simmons plays a member of the Roman aristocracy. Victor Mature, an American, plays a Greek slave. British actors play Senator Gallio and Emperor Tiberius. Michael Ansara, a Syrian-born American, plays Judas, while Peter is played by a British actor, Michael Rennie. Caligula is played by an American, as is Pontius Pilate.
In *Ben Hur,* Charlton Heston and Sam Jaffe, both Americans, play Jews, while Jack Hawkins and Steven Boyd, both British, play Romans. Hugh Griffith, a British actor, plays an Arab sheik. In this film, Pontius Pilate is played by an Australian.
It would be interesting to see if something similar was done with historical dramas taking place in Russia and France, or in films with fictitious aristocracies, such as some science fiction and fantasy films.

Raymond S. Wise
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
E-mail: mplsray @ yahoo . com
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R F:
[nq:1]I'm a little confused. Suppose the film is targeted at American audience (I don't know if that was the case ... the film is targeted at British audience, what would they do? Does that scheme work for, say, Australian audience, too?[/nq]
I recently watched Peter Whatsisname's The Two Towers , and I was thinking about how the Orcs all have thick Cockney accents. Do any members of the Cockney community in Britain find this offensive?

While I'm on the subject of The Two Towers , I think there's a certain Postwar Hiberno-Brito-Australo-Nzic agenda in it as far as beards goes. Peter Whatsisname is a bearded Hiberno-Brito-Australo-Nzic guy. Now, I've read The Lord of the Rings a zillion times, so I know it pretty well. Aragorn was supposed to be beardless, yet they have Viggo Mortensen (Speaker of New York Postwar Prestige Standard) with a scraggly sort of beard. I think there are lots of other minor characters and extras that are supposed to be beardless who are given beards in the movie. This is bogus, man! This is as bogus as giving the Elves pointy ears.

Aragorn was of Numenorean kingly blood. That line was beardless, because of their remote Elvish ancestry.
My theory is that Peter Whatsisname (Jackson?), being a pro-HBAusNZ beardic person himself, just assumed* that Aragorn should have a beard, because *all Men should have beards*. Yeah, roit! Tolkien may have been British, but he was *prewar British, and thus wasn't into this whole culture of trying to look like Eric Clapton or the Bee Gees or whatever.

Get a razor, man!
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Donna Richoux:
(snip)
[nq:1]While I'm on the subject of The Two Towers , I think there's a certain Postwar Hiberno-Brito-Australo-Nzic agenda in ... yet they have Viggo Mortensen (Speaker of New York Postwar Prestige Standard) with a scraggly sort of beard. (snip remainder)[/nq]
It's been a few years since I've read through the books, but I read them plenty before that. I am certain that if Tolkien had ever said Aragon was beardless, I would know it, absolutely. (I always pictured a mustache, as was fashionable in the late 60s/early 70s.)

Please point to volume, chapter, and line, or give up.

Best Donna Richoux
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R F:
[nq:1](snip)[/nq]
[nq:2]While I'm on the subject of The Two Towers ... Prestige Standard) with a scraggly sort of beard. (snip remainder)[/nq]
[nq:1]It's been a few years since I've read through the books, but I read them plenty before that. I am ... a mustache, as was fashionable in the late 60s/early 70s.) Please point to volume, chapter, and line, or give up.[/nq]
I don't have a copy of the books anymore, having worn them out long ago with multiple re-readings. But I'm dead sure of this. Aragorn was beardless. Moustacheless too.
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andrew:
[nq:1]Hello, I may be mistaken, but I thought Claire Danes, an American actress, was trying to imitate British accent in the film "Les Misarable." If I'm correct, I wonder why she should.[/nq]
I had the same problem when I saw Hamlet at my high school. The lead role was played by a despicable show-off named James Rorick: he thought it would be nice to feign a British accent, even though we are in California, about as far from RP as you can get. I nearly leapt out of my seat when I heard him say "pahss" instead of "pass"! Hey James! Just because it's Shakespeare doesn't mean you're supposed to fake an accent!!
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Raymond S. Wise:
[nq:2](snip) It's been a few years since I've read through ... Please point to volume, chapter, and line, or give up.[/nq]
[nq:1]I don't have a copy of the books anymore, having worn them out long ago with multiple re-readings. But I'm dead sure of this. Aragorn was beardless. Moustacheless too.[/nq]
The subject of Tolkien's elves being beardless was discussed in the Usenet newsgroup rec.arts.books.tolkien . A poster named Michael Martinez wrote the following, in which there is reference to a source which may be checked:

See
http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=4khe0l%24ktj%40sloth.swcp.com&oe=UTF-8&output=gplain

or
http://tinyurl.com/u9l1
(quote)
However, Tolkien stated that Elves were beardless (see UNFINISHED TALES, the discussion of the House of Dol Amroth, in "The History Of Galadriel And Celeborn And.."). Cirdan appears to be an oversight on Tolkien's part (or he changed his mind about Elves at some later time).

(end quote)
Tolkien is said to have described Cirdan as having a beard, hence the "oversight" remark.

Raymond S. Wise
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
E-mail: mplsray @ yahoo . com
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