Cinema d'auteur and dubbing: the Woody Allen Paradox


  • Frédérique Brisset English Studies, Université Sorbonne nouvelle Paris 3


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Dubbing is the most common AVT technique in France but few scientific studies have been conducted on the subject, due to several factors: the difficulty in understanding oral speech, the cultural devaluation of a mode of translation initiated by the American studios to target the masses or the impossibility of assigning an author to a collective production. Nonetheless, a Cinéma d’auteur exists, far from Hollywood studios, and thus quite rare in the American film system. Woody Allen, an American director independent from the Majors, is a unique example: he has been able to preserve his artistic autonomy while using international distribution channels. They have brought him a real fame in France, thanks to the subtitled and dubbed versions of his films. Cinéma d’auteur and dubbing can however be regarded as an antinomy as the former is supposed to address an elite and the latter is ontologically tied to mass media. The “Frenchification” of Allen’s films lies at the very heart of that paradox and demands a balance between two poles, one leading towards the author’s speech, and the other towards the facilitation of the spectator’s work. This dissertation seeks to understand how dubbing has negotiated the contradictions at the very heart of this situation, and what room is ascribed to the author in the dubbed versions, between the Model Author and Addressee as defined by the reception theories. Based on examples taken from nine of Allen’s comedies over a 30-year period, this descriptive diachronic and comparative study contrasts the original versions of the films with their translations in French editions and their dubbed versions, using Berman’s theory of “deforming tendencies”.


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