Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Iron Man 2 (dir. Jon Favreau 2010)... and an award!

I managed to get to a cinema yesterday and saw Iron Man 2, which was good fun, if not quite as good as the first one. (I thought the first one had a really nice, strong stucture and felt very grounded, while the second was a bit flabbier, a bit less varied and a bit more comic-book-y - which is fine, since it is a comic book, but it was the unusual tone that I liked particularly in the first one).

Iron Man 2 features a character called Natasha Romanov, who, my brother and The Interweb inform me, is a crossover character - possibly - called Black Widow, who works for SHIELD, an organisation that crosses over various Marvel characters. I was thoroughly confused by SHIELD, since the movie didn't explain what it was, and I don't usually read graphic novels, so I was totally lost (though I did wonder why Natasha seemed to have fighting skills to rival Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

Natasha is a pretty awesome character, though, and, like all the most awesome people, she speaks Latin! Pepper Potts objects that no one 'speaks' Latin, because it's a dead language, you can read or write it but not speak it. This isn't quite true - Latin is still spoken and used as a common language in the Vatican, though on the other hand Latin composition is done much less often than it used to be (with the wonderful exception of the Harry Potter translations!). Pepper does have a point though - when we teach and learn Latin, we mainly focus on how to read it. This will often involve a bit of composition, since that can help with grammar revision, and usually some reading aloud and work on pronunciation, but not, generally speaking, spoken exercises. Which is a shame, as that would be kind of fun, but it would involve learning a whole new skill set that wouldn't be terribly useful, since, especially when you're just starting, the skills and knowledge required to have a conversation in the new language are very different from the skills required to read it, which is still the primary aim of learning Latin.

The best bit is later, when Tony asks Natasha if she can really speak Latin and she responds in Latin! I'd love to tell you what she said, but I didn't have a note book with me and it went by so quickly I had no chance of remembering it - I can't even remember the English translation she provided immediately afterwards! As soon as I can either get hold of the DVD or the clip appears on YouTube (or someone else posts the quotation somewhere) I'll update this post with the Latin phrase and a translation. For the moment, I can confirm that whatever it was she said, it definitely was Latin! UPDATE: It was indeed classical Latin, from Seneca - see comments section for quote and details.

And speaking of awesome.... I have been given an award! Woo-hoo! This is from the lovely Amalia over at Good to Begin Well, Better to End Well. This award appears to be something one can pass on, so without further ado...

First, I will heartily endorse Amalia's blog, which has already received this award and clearly deserves it - her blog covers writing, mythology and other thoughts and if you ever feel like pondering such matters as ancient Greek hair dye, this is the place to go.

Second, I would like to pass this award on to Chris over at Here, There and Everywhere. Chris's eclectic blog covers a whole bunch of stuff, including movie reviews, book reviews, Spanish festivals and marine biology and is always worth a read, plus there are some gorgeous pictures to make me feel jealous of the lovely Spanish weather!


  1. It's a shame that they didn't clarify SHIELD for the non-comic-bookies, especially if it plays a larger role in this second movie. I'm looking forward to IM2 though! It is kind of funny to me that a Russian Super-Spy-Soldier would speak Latin fluently, but I guess I will just have to wait and see it in the movie! :) Also, I am heading over to Here, There and Everywhere immediately!

  2. I'll ask my standard question when somebody actually speaks Latin: What flavor did she speak? From her name, I'd guess she's Russian, so I can't make any real guesses what would be appropriate. Church Latin should be out, though.

  3. I'm not sure, it was too quick! Classical I think, but I'll double check when I can get hold of a clip

  4. I had fun too, and I thought the Latin would catch your ear! In fact, I seem to remember her using it twice. If Iron Man comes out on the original language cinema here I'll probably end up seeing it again, so I'll remember to note down the phrases for you!

    One thing about spoken Latin... I've noticed it's pronounced differently by people based on their linguistic backgrounds... I've heard English-speakers with a different pronunciation than what I learnt in school (as a French-speaker).

    An award, for little ol' me?!?!? THANKS!!! I definitely have to get caught up with the awarding thing... it can be so much fun!

    But don't worry about envying the Spanish weather... my latest post shows that the rain in Spain DOESN'T stay mainly in the plain! :p

  5. Oh, and they mentioned SHIELD a lot in the first movie... you remember the rather plain guy in the black suit? Kind of babysitting Stark in his mansion before he heads off to Arizona? He kept popping up in the first one trying to get through Pepper to talk to Tony about his organisation "Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division" and everyone kept telling him his group needs a new name and he says "we're working on it". Then in a small cameo sequence after the credits Sam Jackson introduces himself to Stark as Nicj Fury head of S.H.I.E.L.D.

    by the way, to anyone else reading this: stick around for AFTER the credits have finished rolling... there's another Easter Egg to see! ;o)

    (and before I'm consigned as a Marvel comics expert, I found the name on Wikipedia! lol!)

  6. Yeah, I vaguely remember - I thought it would all be explained in the second movie, but I'm starting to realise it won't be!

  7. I have my own review (mildly spoilerific) here.

  8. Neil had to read Latin aloud in all his classes, and now makes his students do the same.

    On another note, I was enjoying the resurgence of Robert Downey Jr., but then he did Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes. Chaplin, Natural Born Killers and even Zodiac seem so far away.


  9. Yeah, all my Latin (and Greek) teachers have had students read the language aloud, but that's just reading the text to get the pronunciation right - none of them have included conversational Latin ('hello, I have a dog, will you be my pen-friend etc!).

    And I like Sherlock Holmes! And Iron Man 1!

  10. When I was in Classical and Vulgar Latin the students tried to figure out conversational Latin. For me I know my pronunciations are wrong because my teacher was romanian and had a heavy accent so I probably pronounce my latin, and my greek to some extent, with a romanian russian type accent.

  11. I was actually consulted by the director on this Latin for the film. It was classical Latin and was FALLACES SUNT RERUM SPECIES (Seneca). Translated: The appearences of things are deceptive.

  12. Thanks Dylan! It was just that bit too quick for me to catch in the cinema


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