Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ma Ma, Hua Hua

My transliteration isn't the best, but "ma ma, hua hua" is Chinese for "horse horse, tiger tiger." It is difficult to translate, and like all Chinese, rather inflexibly flexible: a linguistic Swiss Army Knife, as it were. 

Generally speaking, it means that things behave according to their nature, i.e. horses are horses, and tigers are tigers, so horses and tigers will interact as horses and tigers might be expected to interact. If somebody told you that a husband and wife were bickering, you might say, "ma ma, hua hua." A very quick and dirty film dialogue translation might be, "That explains it," or better still, "it explains itself," with the somewhat sarcastic albeit unspoken undertone of "what do you expect?" 

You know, the great beauty of Chinese lies not in what one says, but in what one does not say while saying what one says.

Anyway, we were up in Hollywood for breakfast the other morning, listening to a screenwriter pitch a producer friend of mine, in the dining room of one of the studios.

His plot began with a struggling Chinese martial arts instructor: a down at the heels hustler looking for a hook. The hustler latches on to a Tibetan lama, and begins his rise to the top. The lama dies, and in league with a corrupt attendant, the hustler takes over his monastery in India. He turns it into a New Age Shaolin Hotel, and with the help of a 60 year old American blues singer and sex maniac who also happens to channel Christian prophets, figures out a way to charge the monks for room and board. Meanwhile, a famous martial arts movie star who also happens to be a tulku hears about this, and he decides to clean out the stables, restoring order to the old neighborhood. He goes to the New Age Shaolin Hotel, and in an apocalyptic battle -- think Bob Thurman's daughter waxing the Crazy 88s in Kill Bill -- drives the hustler and the floozie all the way to obscurity in Mongolia.

After breakfast, the screenwriter departed, and I walked with my friend back to his office. I asked him if he was going to green light, and he stopped short, turned to me, and said, "What? Another 'Springtime for Hitler' shtick? Are you crazy? Its too improbable! Things like this couldn't happen. Not even in the movies!"

Oh, and one more thing...

it was a musical.

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1 reader comments:

WoFat said...

I thought it was something about dogs, in Vietnamese.