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The Politics of Dubbing

Film Censorship and State Intervention in the Translation of Foreign Cinema in Fascist Italy

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Carla Mereu Keating

During the late 1920s and the 1930s, the Italian government sought various commercial and politically oriented solutions to cope with the advent of new sound technologies in cinema. The translation of foreign-language films became a recurrent topic of ongoing debates surrounding the use of the Italian language, the rebirth of the national film industry and cinema’s mass popularity.
Through the analysis of state records and the film trade press, The Politics of Dubbing explores the industrial, ideological and cultural factors that played a role in the government’s support for dubbing. The book outlines the evolution of film censorship regulation in Italy and its interplay with film translation practices, discusses the reactions of Mussolini’s administration to early Italian-language talkies produced abroad and documents the state’s role in initiating and encouraging Italians’ habit of watching dubbed films.
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Chapter 4: Unrecorded Censorship: From Preventive Control to Manipulated Dubbings

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CHAPTER 4

Unrecorded Censorship: From Preventive Control to Manipulated Dubbings

Two main censorship approaches affected the circulation of foreign-language films between the early 1930s and the fall of the fascist regime. In this chapter I discuss how the government attempted through its offices at home and abroad to control the production and international distribution of foreign-language films which portrayed non-authorised images of Italy and Italians. Any film which, after a series of preventive controls, still contained unsuitable political or moral content could be modified during the translation of the script and through dubbing, implying a less official intervention by the film censorship office. I argue that this preventive manipulation and/or self-censorship were amply practiced during the years of the DGC.

The film censorship office under the DGC

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