Thursday April 24, 2008

“J'ai l'oeil americain”

Interesting sidenote on LE CORBEAU. At one point we see the good doctor reading one of the poision-pen letters and it's translated as “I see all and I tell all,” but if you look at the text it reads “J'ai l'oeil americain et je dirai tout,” which means, literally, “I have the American eye and I tell all.” So, one wonders, how did “the American eye” ever mean “seeing all”?

Some quick internet research. For a bottomless pit of information, there's not much out there and most of it's in French. From what I gather, though, the phrase related to the popularity, in France, of the early 19th-century novels of James Fenimore Cooper and his American Indian characters, who were far-seeing and eagle-eyed. Hawk-eyed. Madame Bovary even uses the phrase: “J'ai vu ça, moi, du premier coup, en entrant. J'ai l'oeil americain,” which my beginning French translates as  “I have seen this, myself, the first blow is incoming. I have the American eye.” 

I wonder if the phrase is still in use? Doubtful. In recent years, that American eye has become awfully myopic.

Posted at 08:10 AM on Thursday April 24, 2008 in category Movies - Foreign  
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