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August 2000, Week 2


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David Skreiner <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 13 Aug 2000 14:07:14 +0200
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> >(I do, however, recall hearing it argued in France that Laurel and Hardy
> >are funnier there because the voices of those who dub them are
> >better than the originals.)

If you get a chance, compare the different language versions
on a DVD against each other - there are variations not only in
what is said, but of course also in how it is said, in the tones
of the voices, in the amount of emotion.... which also alters
the meaning. The worst example I've come across recently is the
"Muppets take Manhattan" DVD, especially the singing parts...

Or take Roger Avary's "Killing Zoe": Lots of the humour in this film
comes from having a U.S. safe cracker (Zed) participating in a bank
in Paris, with lots of little language gags: A prostitute tells him
her price is FF 500 (in French), then finds out he doesn't speak
French and immediately ups the price to FF 1000. A hotel boy whom Zed
asks for the time glances at his watch, gives the time in extremely
fast French, and flees the room. In the german translation, both the
French and English have been translated to german, making the film
incomprehensibly weird at times because of the missing jokes: "Why's
he looking at him like that?"

It's very rare to find a film where the translation improves on the
original. "A pig called babe" was a huge success mainly in its
in the south german dialect, with the animals speaking different
variations... but that's just about the only one I can think of.
there's also a few translation errors.

(Anyone else here speak german? In Schwarzenegger's total recall,
a dialogue between guards who are looking for the escaped hero with a
tracker device. The device goes beeep, and the following dialogue
"I've got a lock!" - "Let's go!". In the german version, the guards
"Ich habe ein Schloss!" - "Gehen wir!" [rough translation: "I've got a

David Skreiner

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