The Milky Way — nuances in translation


I saw Luis Buñuel’s The Milky Way (1969) for the first time ever last night, and I liked it a lot, though I will definitely have to see it again and do some reading — on both the film and the various theological debates that it refers to — before I can comment on it in any detail. In the meantime, I was amused to see that I remembered just enough of my high-school French to catch a play-on-words that is missed by the subtitles. Near the end of the film, the beggar-pilgrims Pierre and Jean — two modern blokes who have been traipsing through various periods in Catholic history on their way across Spain — meet a prostitute who asks them, “Got any money?” Jean tells her, “We even have gold.” The striking thing about this exchange is that the French word for money, as used by this prostitute, is argent, which literally means “silver”. So the dialogue refers, essentially, to “silver and gold”, a metallic duo that come up frequently in the Bible. I wouldn’t want to read too much into that reference, but it is kind of cute.

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his film column, which won multiple awards from the Evangelical Press Association, the Canadian Church Press and the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005).


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