chapter  13
15 Pages

“New and Improved Subtitle Translation”

Representing Translation in Film Paratexts
ByCarol O’Sullivan

This chapter focuses on the way in which audiovisual translation is itself represented in the paratexts of films. When we consider retranslation, we tend to think of literary texts rather than audiovisual products, but it is common for films to be subtitled many times into a single language (for theatrical exhibition, for DVD release, for broadcast, on reissues of restored films). It is also not uncommon for films to be dubbed more than once into a single language (e.g. older Disney titles). Drawing on Genette’s book-based concept of paratext, this chapter discusses the paratextual visibility of such retranslation, for example, in promotional discourses, DVD extras and packaging. The chapter looks at the tradition of producing ‘new and improved subtitles’ for prestige DVD releases; what does this mean in practice? It looks at the visibility in credits and elsewhere of subtitlers and subtitling laboratories. It also looks at wider use of translation for promotional and marketing purposes in film. Paratexts for dubbing are aimed at both mainstream and more niche audiences: from the multilingual YouTube video of the phenomenally successful song Let It Go from Disney’s 2013 feature Frozen, to the doppiaggio d’epoca (original dub) offered on DVDs of films such as Frankenstein. Paratexts about subtitling are not restricted to high-status cultural products; there is a body of editions of (largely Asian) cult film whose paratexts engage with the specific history of ‘Hong Kong’ and anime subtitling. This chapter asks to what extent such paratexts have the potential to increase awareness of translation issues among audiences.