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on audiovisual translation, subtitling, and the French & American film industries

Of Julies and blogs

stills from the film "Julie & Julia"

stills from the film "Julie & Julia"

Julie & Julia the film and phenomenon are intriguing for a number of reasons. But first, ever cognizant that people who ascend high horses inevitably fall off, I reflected on my initial draft of this post, counted to 10, and instead am going with this (note to anyone reading this and future posts: if you see me ascending, please tell me to get off it):

I had a similar “religious experience” to the one Julia Child had with France and its cuisine, but mine was cultural, and steered me into translation.   So I’m bummed to see her transformation neutered to apease the screenwriting and Hollywood dieties, neatly folded like a meringue ingredient into a story about female professional transition.

Otherwise, how large the world seemed just a half century ago that French cooking was so foreign to most Americans!  It’s also intriguing from a translation standpoint that, as portrayed in the film, Child seems culturally disconnected from France, showing little if any interest in French linguistically and culturally (save the food).  And yet, she wrote a definitive work in US English on a unique topic with mass-market appeal. Is that showbiz, Hollywood, or both?  And did any of those French Chef videos get subtitled (or g-d-forbid dubbed) and distributed back in France?

Another important point is Julie Powell herself, and the blogsphere, and life in and around it.   I often wonder, new to all this, is anyone listening?  Does it matter?   Or perhaps as Julie might say, happily (I presume) into her new life, posting is an end in and of itself.

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Filed under: translation, US film industry, , ,

Five minutes with Noah Harlan of 2.1 Films

I first met Noah, co-founder and producer of 2.1 Films, over a year ago at an orientation for IFP/NY members participating in the Cannes Film Festival and Market.  I’m delighted he sat down with me to talk shop, and was very happy to learn he is such a conscientous filmmaker regarding audiovisual translation.  He also has some terrific things to say about script translation, and the future of distribution (as the New York Times recently mentioned as well).

One thing he mentioned that didn’t make the final cut:  Truffaut’s 400 Blows, and the translation of the title.  Noah considers it a mistranslation into English, but I’m not so sure, especially in context of its time.  Doubtlessly a UK translator did it, but it probably resonated with Americans of that time, and Britishisms aside, I think tampering with a classic is a tall order at the very least.

Filed under: audiovisual translation, subtitling, US film industry, , , , ,