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Time

In Alice Through the Looking Glass the character Time (played by Sacha Baron Cohen) speaks with a German accent (as can be heard in this video clip).

Actually I'm guessing it's supposed to be a German accent, because at one point Wilkins, one of Time's Seconds, says "Auf Wiedersehen!" to Alice.

My Question(s):

  • Why does Time speak with a German accent?
  • Or is it maybe a Swiss accent (the Swiss have a reputation as good watchmakers)?
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    Because Sacha Baron Cohen loves doing accents. – Lindsey D Sep 21 '16 at 19:05
  • I think Lindsey nailed it. Also, aren't the Swiss, who speak German (along with French and Italian) known for their watchmaking? Maybe that's what he's going for. – PoloHoleSet Sep 21 '16 at 21:51
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Update: OP has provided a better answer here.

While there is no official and accurate word on why does the character Time speak with that particular accent, the actor Sacha Baron Cohen admitted in one of the interviews that the accent is slightly Bavarian. (Though he is not sure!)

Quoting from his interview:

Q. Sacha, how did you arrive at your accent?

Sacha Baron Cohen: He’s slightly Bavarian… I don’t know. Bavaria by way of California. [Puts on the accent] He has that kind of overly pompous, very emphatic way of talking, where everything seems very crucial even though it can be complete nonsense.

(Audio version of the above interview.)

Though some say that the accent is reputedly inspired by Werner Herzog.

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I found an interview with director James Bobin that sheds some light on this:

With Time it’s like how he holds himself, his walk, how he sits, you know, it being a thing whereby we’d already had a lot of English accents. And Sacha could do pretty much anything.

And we thought time as a concept is a kind of a Swiss idea, like clock makers etcetera. And in Switzerland there are two languages, French and German. So we thought German was quite precise in its language.

And then we thought, well, you can’t just do a basic, German, you know, you have to do something fun with it. And so we thought like who has an interesting voice who is German? And we came up with our friend– our documentarian friend who Time is basically based upon.


This "documentarian friend" is Werner Herzog, as James Bobin confirms in this interview:

Was it Sasha Baron Cohen's or his idea to play Time as Werner Herzog?

Ha! You spotted that.

Well, Sacha and I have worked together for years creating characters, so we had a fun time doing that. When you talk slowly and precisely, even if you’re saying things that aren’t intelligent, you sound intelligent. That felt like a good thing for the character to have.

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    P.S.: there are actually four official languages in Switzerland, but German (>60%) and French (>20%) are spoken the most. – Oliver_C Sep 22 '16 at 14:24
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It's just something Cohen and director James Bobin came up with, as Bobin "explains" in this clip:

We came up with this idea of this sort-of quasi-German mid-Atlantic voice.

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    So, does he give any reasons in that clip? Anything else you would deem worth summarizing to makes this into more than a mere link-only answer? – Napoleon Wilson Sep 21 '16 at 15:27
  • @NapoleonWilson That's all he says on the topic. There doesn't seem to be an explanation for it. – BCdotWEB Sep 21 '16 at 15:29
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    Still better to include what he said in the video – Ankit Sharma Sep 21 '16 at 15:29
  • I'll add a transcription of the relevant phrase later, but --spoiler alert -- it is basically "we came up with this character". – BCdotWEB Sep 21 '16 at 15:31
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    Well, they do say quite a bit more about his character, which seems slightly related to his accent, namely that he's all about being over-the-top and a "confident idiot" and "buffoon"-like. This seems to go quite well with an overstilted accent of any kind. So reducing it to a mere "we came up with this for no reason" would do the interview a little injustice. – Napoleon Wilson Sep 21 '16 at 21:11

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