to all subcribers of screen-l!
"METAMORPHOSIS" OF POLITICAL CONTENTS
The Institute for Media Studies in Vienna (Austria) is developing a research-project on a special form of
censorship. Our focus is the transformation of "political contents" in all kinds of popular culture, that occurs
during the process of "translation" from one cultural context another. This includes dubbed movies and foreign
language cover-versions of pop songs as well as translations of literature. We investigate the way in which sex,
violence and the images of antagonists are adapted to the demands of the particular market.
WHERE HAVE ALL THE NAZIS GONE?
In the first part of our work we are especially studying changes in the image of "the bad guy" occuring in movies
during the process of dubbing or subtitling. After World War II some American films were shown in German and
Austrian cinemas only in "faked versions": Often the political background of the original story was eliminated; Nazis
and Communists, the historical antagonists, were frequently changed into drug dealers. Nuclear weapons became
science fiction-rays or mysterious secret formulas.
SOME EXAMPLES OF FAKED MOVIES
The most famous "faked movies" are Alfred Hitchcock's NOTORIOUS (USA 1946) and Michael Curtiz' CASABLANCA
(USA 1942). In Hitchcock's movie the Nazi-conspirators were changed into drug-dealers. In the first
German-language version of CASABLANCA Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), member of the resistance, became a
Norwegian scientist who invented the famous "Delta-rays", and all scenes with Nazis were cut from this official
FAKED VERSIONS ALL OVER THE WORLD?
But not only Germany and Austria were involved in this process of faking movies. In Italy and France (and maybe
Sweden) some movies with a political background were treated the same way. Sam Fullers PICKUP ON SOUTH
STREET (USA 1953) was shown to the French public in a dubbed version in which the Communists are drug dealers
(French title "port de la drogue"), the Italian title of Edward Ludwigs BIG JIM McLAIN (USA 1952) is
"Marjihuana". The anti-Communist background was changed into a ridiculous drug-story. In Sweden a version of
Casablanca without Nazis was released.
Do you know about any similar incidents in your country?
Do you have further information about what happened to CASABLANCA in Sweden?
If you have any information for our group or if you are interested in this topic please contact us.
Hannes Auinger; mailto:[log in to unmask]
Dr. Rainer M. Köppl
The Institute for Media Studies
Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the
University of Alabama.