Recently I revisited one of my all-time favourite films, which unsurprisingly is to do with languages. “Arrival” follows a translation professor (played by Amy Adams) as she tackles communication with aliens and -spoiler alert- ends up cracking their language which in turn changes the future of mankind. A girl can dream.
I was watching and thinking, my job is nothing like this woman’s and not just because I have never had the pleasure of conversing with aliens. It is also dissimilar to Nicole Kidman’s in “The Interpreter” in that it has never put my life at risk, although I have had to wear my fair share of helmets while interpreting in factories, so there’s that. And never have I ever been involved in a money-grabbing murder mystery like Audrey Hepburn in “Charade”, which in all fairness I’m thankful for.
My point is, representations of translators in the cinema are, as with anything else, highly dramatised -and glamorised- but I still love watching these women -why is it always women?- represent my profession and put their linguistic skills to work on incredible adventures. And, while there aren’t many films on the topic, these are some of my favourites, so I thought I’d share them.
And granted, I’m not a renowned linguist that travels the world sharing her wisdom or runs about Paris with a very important letter chased by assassins, I’m simply me in my humble office, looking at a computer screen trying to find just the word. But I love my job and, whether I’m translating a wedding speech or a patent for a new invention or I’m sat between two people in a meeting making it possible for them to communicate, I feel that what I do matters, even if only a little. Not sure it would make for a good film, though, we might have to bring in some aliens.