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The Subtitles In Man On Fire Are Bananas

The subtitles in Man On Fire are amazing. I’d recommend seeing the movie just for the subtitles. You think it’s weird to recommend a movie based on its subtitles? You haven’t seen Man On Fire. It takes what was once a tool of translation and raises it to the level of art.

You won’t notice it at first because the movie is fairly normal until Denzel gets deeper and deeper into his ragefest. In the beginning, they’re just normal, harmless subtitles. Then they take on a more sinister bent. It’s subtle at first. You’ll notice one that appears somewhere other than the bottom of the screen where decades of film watching has conditioned you to expect them. Then certain words are emphasized with larger lettering, sometimes different fonts altogether. Then maybe you notice they will float around, as if you somehow found that brown acid inspired, lost episode of The Electric Company. 

Eventually the subtitles start having their own sound effects. And soon after that, we start subtitling English dialogue because everything about this film has now lost its mind.

At this point everything previously mentioned comes into play all at once. Now, all subtitles fly all over the place and disappear into the distance while different fonts and sizes emphasize certain words based on how ANGRY Denzel says them. Sometimes just those certain words are subtitled. They take on crashing sounds and orchestral stabs. They're sometimes double exposed. They take on a life of their own.

They become characters in and of themselves. They could seriously have their own movie. I would pay good money to see it too, in IMAX 3D no less. The Subtitles From Man On Fire would clean the fuck up.

Man On Fire is one of the most batshit things I’ve ever witnessed. I don’t know what happened in the editing room. I think Tony Scott had a row with brother Ridley of some sort. Maybe Ridley claimed his own stylishness makes Tony’s stylishness suck. And Tony wasn’t going to take that laying down. “I’m gonna style the fuck out of this so hard that no one else’s style can even live anymore!” And then he showed us. With subtitles! No one has tried it since.  


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