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December 4, 2013: Manipulating Movie Soundtracks in Postwar Europe

The Politics of Mistranslation and the Mistranslation of Politics:
Manipulating Movie Soundtracks in Postwar Europe

A talk by Prof. Dr. Rainer M. Koeppl, Fulbright Visiting Professor, Department of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature;
Director of Studies / Head of Curriculum, Institute for Theatre, Film and Media Studies, University of Vienna, Austria

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Alfred_HitchcockEver since the invention of “talkies,” attempts have been made to eliminate or censor certain “offensive” scenes by means of manipulating the film soundtrack. Sometimes only minor details were changed, but in other cases the entire dialogue of a film was “reinvented.” In Europe, most of these manipulations are part of a re-writing of the history of WWII.  In postwar Germany and Austria, American movies and TV series were only shown in dubbed versions in cinemas and on TV. These dubbed versions very often rewrite or even contradict the original dialogue. The systematic manipulation of classic movies like Notorious and Casablanca and TV series like Columbo provides fascinating and frightening examples of ideologically motivated mistranslation. Systematic mistranslation, enforced by the aptly named Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle (Voluntary Self Control) served the purpose of banning Nazi history, as well as communists and the atomic bomb, from postwar screens in Europe. Clips in the original English version and in the dubbed versions will be shown.

Co-organized and cosponsored by the IAS Interpretation and Translation Studies at the University (ITSU) Research Collaborative and by German, Scandinavian, and Dutch.

This talk occurred Wednesday, December 4, 2013, at 12:30pm in 113 Folwell Hall.

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