Subtitling Godard for DVD: a study of three New Wave films

Gardner, Helen F. (2008) Subtitling Godard for DVD: a study of three New Wave films. MA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Jean-Luc Godard's New Wave films are renowned for defying cinematic conventions and as such create extra problems for the subtitler, who is already working with a very constrained medium. This dissertation will focus on the different approaches taken in the subtitling of recent DVD releases of three of these films, A bout de souffle (1960), Une femme est une femme (1961) and Pierrot le fou (1965). Each film was recently released by two different distribution companies: the Criterion Collection, available in the US, and Optimum Releasing for the UK market. Quantitative and qualitative analysis of these two sets of DVDs was made to investigate the general reductive strategy, technical considerations and how the subtitlers had coped with extralinguistic issues as well as the intralinguistic cultural problems of register, expletives and puns. This comparative analysis was supplemented by a semi-structured interview with a subtitler who had prepared subtitles for three of the DVDs and for both distribution companies. The results showed that the subtitles generally adhered to the technical recommendations of scholars. Nonetheless, some clear differences were indicated on both technical and linguistic levels, which generally suggest that the Criterion Collection uses more interventionist and domesticating strategies. This may be viewed as a desire to produce a high-quality product but is not considered to have always produced the best outcome, particularly on the matter of extralinguistic culture-bound references. The findings also indicate that Godard's work is often undermined by the subtitles, which is perhaps an unavoidable consequence of the constraints of the medium. Yet, in several instances, this need not have been the case if the subtitlers had freed themselves from convention and produced more expressive subtitles. However, human factors are not the only limitations, as the current, commonly used subtitling software does not allow for creativity.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Languages and Area Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2011 12:48
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 11:15

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