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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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Chapter 1 Understanding audiovisual material: A multi-layered meaning process


← 6 | 7 →CHAPTER 1

Understanding audiovisual material: A multi-layered meaning process

1.1 Introduction

Gavin Lambert explains that: ‘[U]ntil we know how a film is speaking to us, we cannot be sure what it is saying’ (Lambert 1952: 7 in Gibbs 2002: 100). What Lambert highlights in this short quote is the fact that audiovisual materials, such as films and television series,1 have a language of their own and that in order to understand them, we must learn to read and decode the various layers of meaning presented to us. Broadly speaking there are two levels of communications in films, known as the horizontal and vertical levels (Vanoye 1985). The vertical level corresponds to the interaction between directors and the audience, whereas the horizontal level corresponds to the interaction between characters. These two levels are interrelated since meaning comes from the interaction between audience and film (Phillips 2000: 88) and both the audience and directors interpret meaning based on the interaction between the characters.

Interpretation is therefore an important process when it comes to understanding films – so much so that Stafford notes that ‘a film would not exist without an audience’ (2007: 73). Consequently, this process of making meaning is not a straightforward one, as the audience responds to films on various levels. Patrick Phillips explains that there are two main ← 7 | 8 →levels, the intellectual level and the emotional level (2000: 4–7), including previous experiences (Stafford 2007: 87), all...

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