Friday, February 15, 2008

A Night at the Movies

Unlike some of my friends, I actually like going early to the movies to watch all the previews. I get an idea of what I want to see next. Also, at 9,90€ per ticket, I'd rather be early and get a choice seat and squeeze the most out of my money.

Recently in the cinema previews there has been a Coca Zero advertisement that makes my stomach turn. I couldn't find a French copy, but if you want to watch a version in Portugese here, do so at your own peril. It has animated pink flappy tongues (with legs) in conversation with an eyeball (also with legs). Totally grossed out, I have to duck under the seat and hide my face whenever this comes on the big screen. By the way, the French version ends with the eye saying "mon oeil."

Will this commercial ever play in Peoria? I doubt it. But why?

I wonder about cultural differences and why walking, talking body parts are apparently not a big deal here, like those Société Générale TV commercials where an anthropomorphized thumb (also with its own legs) accompanies happy bank customers around town. The phrase donner un coup de pouce is equivalent to lending a hand, so I can see the symbolism -- but not the attraction.

I saw the tongues-and-eyeball spot again last night at the Gaumont Champs Elysées. Fortunately, it was followed by a light-hearted French romantic comedy, so I was able to get the image out of my mind.

Ah, but the movies. Sometimes the entertainment isn't always the film. About half an hour before our movie ended, the screen went blank. No one seemed alarmed or too concerned; I guess this happens from time to time. Finally the lights went up and an employee arrived to announce technical difficulties, and asked us to be patient for about cinq minutes. Gaumont offered a free movie pass (une invitation) to compensate for the inconvenience. Nice.

We all resumed our conversations while waiting to see the finale of the film, conjecturing about the outcome. "Would she marry him or not? If so, how?" Five minutes passed. With a sheepish grin, the guy returned and told the audience, "Nous sommes desolés, but the film can't be shown. We're sorry for your troubles. Thanks for your understanding."

As people began reaching for their coats, I turned around and spoke up, ever-so sweetly, "Monsieur, don't you think we should all get another free pass -- to come see this movie again so we can see how it ends?" He saw my logic, and distributed a second pass to all as we exited the salle. I guess my French negotiating skills are improving.


Tin Foiled said...

Kindred spirit! I hate that Coke Zero trailer...

...then again, there's no such thing as bad publicity, and we *are* all talking about it.

La Belette Rouge said...

Impressive, not only do you speak French. But, you speak enough French to negotiate. You can now add international diplomacy relations to your resume.;-)

Polly-Vous Francais said...

TF - Yes, here we are wagging our tongues about it...yecchh.

Belette - Merci! I didn't even stammer or sputter, which was amazing (for me).

KEF said...

Oh my goodness I am SO with you! I just posted about the awful tongue and eyeball ad and have posted a French version on my blog.

AND - the Societe Generale add is JUST as bad, if not worse! Why has the one with the thumb at the housewarming party been running for over a year and a half now???

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Kef, I'm glad you found a French version and can't wait to look at it on your blog. Thanks!

I guess my thought is: clearly Coca Cola hires top ad agencies that know their markets, so why is it that these ads are fine with a European market whereas to American (and maybe other Anglo-Saxon?) sensibilities they are so.. ick?

I would love to hear the point of view of someone who really likes these ads so I can understand why. Meanwhile, I continue to cover my eyes...

blueVicar said...

I hated that thumb when we went to the movies in France! I can't believe it's still around. Sad. I never saw the other odd body parts...thank goodness.

But, Polly, negotiating for a second free ticket. Formidable! A woman after my own heart...

Meilleurs voeux!!

My Inner French Girl said...

I love going to the movie theater in foreign countries. It's always a different experience each time. My favorite will always be the Philippines, where you can enter and leave at anytime. When I was growing up, they rarely published start and stop times (except for the first showing of the day), so inevitably we would walk into the middle of a film. We'd then stay long enough to see the first half before leaving.

Naturally, fire codes were routinely violated, so if we came in at a particularly busy time, we could end up squeezed between other latecomers in the aisles.

Sweden has the best commercials. Maybe you have to know Swedish culture, but the premises were often weird.


Polly-Vous Francais said...

Blue Vicar,

Those thumb ads are still going strong. And I'm so happy to have 20€ worth of movie passes. That was a nice little valentine!

That is so interesting about movie theatres in other countries. That would be an interesting sociological study to compare them all.

I remember in the 70s when people were allowed to smoke in French cinemas, and there was an intermission and the Miko lady came around and sold ice cream.
Two other habits totally different here from US-- some movie theatres still have ushers whom you tip. Also, at the entrance, if you are meeting a friend and have bought his or her ticket, you can leave it with the ticket taker with the person's name, so that you can go in and grab the seats.

My Inner French Girl said...

Dear Polly, excellent idea! I'll have to think about that the next time I travel. It would make a great feature article.


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