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The Translation of Films, 1900-1950$
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Carol O'Sullivan and Jean-François Cornu

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266434

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266434.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 29 June 2022

‘Don’t mention the war’: The Soviet re-editing of Three Live Ghosts

‘Don’t mention the war’: The Soviet re-editing of Three Live Ghosts

(p.81) 5 ‘Don’t mention the war’: The Soviet re-editing of Three Live Ghosts
The Translation of Films, 1900-1950

Charles Barr

British Academy

Silent films were commonly adapted for foreign markets not simply by translation of intertitles but, when desired, by more radical change, both to the titles and to the whole structure and thrust of the narrative. The young Soviet Union systematically transformed films from the West in order to make them ideologically acceptable for its own public, as well as to train filmmakers in the craft of editing. The discovery in Moscow of the re-edited version of the 1922 Anglo-American production Three Live Ghosts—on which Alfred Hitchcock worked as title designer—enables an unprecedentedly full case study of this transformation process. Characters and their Great War context are ruthlessly reworked, in the service of a fresh anti-capitalist story. Finally, the same process is traced in reverse, in the sound period, through Hollywood’s own re-editing, for Cold War audiences, of its pro-Soviet wartime feature North Star into an anti-Soviet narrative.

Keywords:   Alfred Hitchcock, film archives, Gosfilmofond, Lev Kuleshov, re-editing, silent film, Soviet montage, silent film translation, audiovisual translation history, film history

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