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Lost in a modern language

Erica Maurice
Staff Writer

Imagine being in a foreign country without knowing the language or the culture.

This sense of alienation was the theme of the latest film in the Language and Cinema film series hosted by the department of modern languages.

The University of La Verne’s department of modern languages hosted “Lost in Translation” Sept. 19 in the Arts and Communications Building 212.

Modern languages instructor Jose Perez-Gonzalez and professor of language Josue Alvarez organized the event.

“We wanted students to have exposure to language and culture,” said Perez-Gonzalez.

This month the department is showing films about other culture and languages and dealing with adapting in other countries.

“Lost in Translation” focused on two characters. One, played by Bill Murray, is a famous actor who is stuck working in Japan away from his wife and son. The other, played by Scarlett Johansson, is the wife of a photographer who tagged along but is home sick and left in the hotel while her husband worked all day. Both of them come together to face the challenge of being in a place where they do not know the culture or speak the language.

“My favorite part was when he was doing the commercial and the director was speaking in really long Japanese sentences and the translator would translate it into turn to the right,” a sophomore child education major Brooke Hines said.

With students from the language department and students from the honor colloquium program, Language and Cinema gives students the opportunities for extracurricular activities.

The professors wanted students to have a chance to learn their language outside of the classroom.

Students who came to see the movie enjoyed it, but some like sophomore biology major Vaness Crook might not watch it again.

“I don’t think I’d watch it again, but I thought it was interesting to watch the individualism, gender roles, tourism, socialism, viewing the infidelity, culture, adapting and changing aspects of the movie,” Crook said.

“I also enjoyed how the movie showed parts of Japan that the typical American would recognize like the volcano and the game show host.”

Students felt that the movie showed great cultural aspects of Japan.

“It showed how Japan is rich with technology and it showed some traditional stuff,” junior international studies major Paula Zepeda said.

Next month the department is showing Spanish horror movies.

“We hope by showing Spanish horror the students will feel engaged with the movie and the language,” Alvarez said.

Perez-Gonzalez is showing movies that introduce other cultural holidays.

The department is also planning to host language tables so student can practice and hear the language they are learning.

Once planned, these tables will be located in Davenport Dining Hall or the Campus Center.

This program will continue all year with all of the movies planned.

The department is showing movies of all languages. So far they have shown movies with French, Japanese, English, Arabic, Spanish and Russian.

“We want to provide more activities to practice language,” Alvarez said.

The Language and Cinema series continues at 4 p.m. every Wednesday in the Arts and Communication Building room 212.

Next week’s film will be “Tesis (Thesis),” a Spanish film about a university student writing a thesis on violence who becomes a victim herself.

Erica Maurice can be reached at

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