Film and Translation: Transforming Cinematic Cultures and Texts

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


The book situates itself at the intersection of film and translation and aims to contribute to the emerging scholarship in this new area. It is in particular conversation with the recently established field of audiovisual translation but is conceived as a broader statement that aims to promote a critical understanding of the film-translation relationship. To that effect, I will articulate a critique of audiovisual translation as a set of theories and pedagogies whose principal raison d’être to date has been to provide theoretical support and legitimation to the ongoing technocratisation and streamlining of the film translation industry. I will argue that this has been possible through the strict distinction within both academia and industry of two between translation’s key social roles, namely, to ensure the transfer and the transformation of meanings. Through a tightly controlled definition of translation as transfer, audiovisual translation and the film (and multimedia) localisation industry have systematically devalued and masked the long history of translation’s transformative effect on cinema.
Beyond conventionally understood audiovisual translation, in the past years there has been a growing interest in the aesthetic, cultural and institutional aspects of film translation by scholars of both disciplines. Building on this research, the monograph will propose a theoretical framework that allows us to rethink film translation in a more self-reflective and holistic manner. It will propose a new conceptualisation of film and translation as culturally complicitous and synergistic forms of representation which, at least in their dominant Western versions, harbour a common desire for universality. The deployment of translation concepts, resources and techniques at the stages of the design, production, and exhibition of films will be theorised as an expression of what could be called the ongoing liberal-humanist project of the translatability of culture. In this sense, translational interventions in film will be shown to be entirely in line with the main cultural and philosophical imperatives of modernity and, in our times, with aspects of the technologically enhanced cultural politics of globalisation. In the monograph, I will analyse a large number of cases of translational intervention - whether conventionally understood as subtitling, dubbing, and voice over, or creatively embedded in film, such as the depiction of translation and translators on screen. To this effect, I will select and examine films that exemplify the desire for the universal transferability of (cinematically expressed) meanings, and, on the other end of the spectrum, films that actively engage with the problematics of translation as a critique of the quest for universality and as a condition for the transformation and renewal of film culture.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusIn preparation - 2024

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