Monday 22 September 2014

Rabid Dogs - A Note on the Translation

The foremost English translations of Rabid Dogs are the original subtitles supervised for Lucertola Media by Mario Bava's biographer, Tim Lucas, and the later set commissioned by Anchor Bay.

The aim of the Lucertola subtitles was to achieve a translation in contemporary English that felt more profanely truthful to the performances. The more obvious Lucertola changes was the use of ‘Doc’ for the name of Maurice Poli’s character, Dottore. In Italian, the use of the word dottore (which literally means doctor') was typically used by people who are not higher-educated as a term of deference to someone who is (this usage has broken down now even in the south, where it was probably more common that in the north, particularly among the younger generations, since language is getting more democratized and university education is more widespread than it used to be). There is no suitable English equivalent and, so, the Lucas translation sought to assuage this by opting to translate the word as Doc, as this can readily be accepted as a name, while also being easy on the ear as the viewer hears Dottore in the dialogue.

The Anchor Bay translation was much more literal throughout, with Dottore’ simply being translated as Doctor’. In this new translation, we have chosen to use the Lucas ‘Doc’, being the most satisfying translation when considering alternative options.

Another character, Bisturi (played by Aldo Caponi), has a name that means scalpel’, almost certainly in reference to his trademark switchblade. This was rendered as ‘Bisturi’ in the Anchor Bay subtitles, but as Blade in the Lucertola translation. Once again, we have kept the Lucas version, which is further befitting now all three characters, Doc, Blade and Thirty-Two, have aliases. A non-Italian audience certainly might assume that Bisturi is a regular name, so, giving each character an alias is very important for our understanding of their motives and may also make us think about their relationship to one another. We have certainly seen this device employed in genre pieces before, with a prime example being the use of Tuco, Angel Eyes and Blondie in Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly [Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo] (1966).

Among the other amendments is the use of more colloquial speech. A recurring example of this is the replacement of the stilted child with kid. However, the changes are sensitive to each character's register. Thus, the three robbers will tend to say kid, whereas Riccardo will more often use boy. Doc, being a calmer character, will occasionally alternate, depending on the forcefulness of his tone.

The new translation strives to remain faithful to the registers of the period, whilst also being accessible for a modern audience. It is hoped that these changes, some of which are crucial, will enhance the viewer's enjoyment of the film.

RABID DOGS/KIDNAPPED is available for pre-order from the Arrow Store.

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