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Dubbing, Film and Performance

Uncanny Encounters


Charlotte Bosseaux

Research on dubbing in audiovisual productions has been prolific in the past few decades, which has helped to expand our understanding of the history and impact of dubbing worldwide. Much of this work, however, has been concerned with the linguistic aspects of audiovisual productions, whereas studies emphasizing the importance of visual and acoustic dimensions are few and far between.
Against this background, Dubbing, Film and Performance attempts to fill a gap in Audiovisual Translation (AVT) research by investigating dubbing from the point of view of film and sound studies. The author argues that dubbing ought to be viewed and analysed holistically in terms of its visual, acoustic and linguistic composition. The ultimate goal is to raise further awareness of the changes dubbing brings about by showing its impact on characterization. To this end, a tripartite model has been devised to investigate how visual, aural and linguistic elements combine to construct characters and their performance in the original productions and how these are deconstructed and reconstructed in translation through dubbing. To test the model, the author analyses extracts of the US television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its French dubbed version.
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← viii | 1 →Introduction


Popular culture TV series and films reach millions of people and are usually remembered through their main characters. However, as they travel the world in translation, audiences may perceive these very same characters differently even though the images remain the same. The premise of this monograph is my deep conviction that translation is a complex multi-layered process that has an impact on the way fictional characters are presented to their new audiences. Specifically, my point of entry is characterization: the way characters are created and presented in original and translated texts in an audiovisual context. I am particularly fascinated by audiovisual texts, which prove complex to deal with in translation owing to the fact that elements from various channels need to be taken into consideration; translators have to navigate both images and sounds, including words.

Characterization in the framework of Film Studies refers to the way characters are created on-screen through features such as actors’ performance, voice quality, facial expressions, gestures, camera angles and soundtrack (Dyer 1979/1998). This book will investigate how characterization and performance (including voice quality, facial expressions and gestures) are intrinsically linked and show how dubbing affects performance. My main interest is in voice, since in dubbing the original actors’ voices are replaced by new ones from the target culture. Film Studies and Audiovisual Translation Studies have seen little discussion of actors’ voices as an integral part of their identity and of the way actors use language, i.e. their idiolect. Therefore, the primary goal of...

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