Ramstein, the city, not the band
When I was younger I lived close to Kaiserslautern. A small town not too far from the French border, but that’s not what it’s known for. Ramstein (not these guys with two ‘m’s) is nearby and because of the military bases there are about 50.000 Americans in the K-Town area. That makes the are the largest gathering of Americans outside the U.S. and that comes with some perks.
I used to always get the DVDs (or VHS cassettes) much sooner than all the German kids because I could shop on the military base close to where I grew up.
Release dates used to matter
Back in the 90s, before Napster, before Kazaa and before Streaming Sites which would’ve been hell with the 56k modem anyway, the movie release dates were still very different around the globe. I do miss that sound, though.
Movies would get released in the States and sometimes it would take a full year until they were released abroad. I remember watching Episode I 8 months or so before it hit German theaters. Don’t quite remember if I was being a bastard and spoiling it for everyone else.
Often enough by the time the movies came out in the theaters in Germany they would be released on DVD in the States.
That was pretty cool for me. On the base, everything was American – you paid in Dollars, the fast food places were American and so was all the media. Movies and video games were on the American release schedule as well, very cool.
The cow exploded
It took a while, but now we’re getting to the language learning part:
I had a friend with whom I used to hang out every day. He was German, didn’t really speak English with a lot of people, his school wasn’t that great, so his English lessons sucked, but the kid could speak the language.
What happened was we watched so many movies together and we played so many video games that he learned a LOT through them.
All the games and movies were in English of course and we both preferred watching the ‘original’ movies. Japanese wasn’t an option back then, English translations for the video games were much better than the German ones back then and there were more titles available than in Germany. Being able to watch the movies and play the games sooner than the other German kids was an added bonus.
Luckily, his vocabulary wasn’t limited to insults and typical vocabulary you’d need to save the world.
He picked up a lot of grammar from the RPGs we played together and some cool expressions from the movies we watched.
I got some Samurai-talk lessons later on thanks to Akira Kurosawa and another line that personally stood out to me was “the cow exploded” in Three Kings.
I still like to find out how to say that in many languages.
La vache a explosé
la mucca è esplosa
I am prepared for this one situation where I might need to comment on this specific scenario unfolding, but at the same time I hope it never happens.
Movie nights and film discussions
It’s difficult to compress these years of intense nerding out into an event, but starting with a movie night and a discussion about the film might be a good idea.
There are lots of German movies that are worth watching, some made it overseas: Das Boot, Lola rennt and Der Untergang are famous and there are some lesser known gems.
Contrary to popular belief Germans can be very funny, so there are some great comedies and we will get together to check some of them out.
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