Ann Peacock, Andrew Adamson, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Walt Disney Pictures, Walden Media, Lamp Post Production Ltd.
Buena Vista International
Italian dialogue by:
Dubbing sound technician:
Based on the novel by C. S. Lewis, the film tells the tale of four English siblings, sent to a house in the countryside by their mother in order to escape the Second World War London bombings. During their playing sessions they discover a wardrobe and step inside to discover the world of Narnia which they endeavour to save from being trapped in a never-ending winter due to a curse by the wicked white witch.
The plot is promising; in fact the book was an enormous success, however due to the huge publicity campaign that Disney dedicated to this film, the public in the cinemas expected something more from the Narnia Chronicles: numerous details have been overlooked; the film is far too slow; some characters and some passages of the plot are not explained; finally there’s an excessive use of computer graphics which at times are badly carried out.
The Italian edition unfortunately gives its negative contribution. The dialogues are, on the whole, set out quite well, but the synchronicity isn’t always perfect. Italians who speak English, can, at times, understand the English words because the sound does not fit the mouth movements of the character. A little example: during the battle against the white Witch’s army, Peter encourages his own army by shouting “For Narnia! For Aslan!”. The boy’s face is a close-up and one can see his wide open mouth in the “o” of “for”. It would have been better to say “Con Narnia! Con Aslan”, the meaning would have been more or less identical and the lip movement perfect.
At other times it’s the choice of style which is far from perfect. The children very often use a far too educated form of speech. The scene in which Lucy has a cup of tea with Mr. Tumnus is almost sickeningly sweet with the child who, upon the faun’s question if she knows some of the Narnia melodies, answers “Sorry, no”, or when she consoles him saying “there’s no other kinder faun than you”. To her sister Susan she says “maybe they find you funny”, when they enter into Aslan’s army encampment. But above all, it’s incomprehensible that a child would use the expression “linen cupboard (“armadio guardaroba”). The fact that a child says wardrobe is quite something, imagine a child saying “linen cupboard”. Not even a child in the London of the ‘30s and ‘40s would ever have used this sort of expression.
There are other sentences here and there in the film which could have been adapted better: the Witch defines Edmund as a “likeable” child, in this case also the stylistic choice is a little too hastily chosen. Peter says “we’re not capable” (non siamo in grado) of helping Narnia, in answer to Lucy’s prayer to stay in the world of Narnia. It would have been more correct to say “we’re not capable of doing it” otherwise the sentence seems incomplete. When he talks with Aslan, he begins the conversation with “si tratta di questo” (this is what it’s all about) but it’s a line which deviates too much from the one immediately following. It would have been better to connect the sentences beginning with “the thing is that…”. Edmund’s exclamation is similarly strange when he is horse riding and calls his horse with a “Cavallo! (“Horse!”). Ok that the dialogist wanted to introduce the horse’s answer who, indignant, tells him his name, but it’s unthinkable that anyone would say anything like that. It would have been enough to adapt an “Good boy, you!” or something similar seeing as the mouth wasn’t a close up shot. Furthermore the entire discussion of the white Witch before sacrificing Aslan is not synchronised and the lip movement is imprecise more so because the shot is a close-up.
The fox’s line is touching when after having been attacked by the wolves he says “Vorrei poter dire che lupo che abbaia non morde!” (more or less translated in “I’d like to be able to say that a barking wolf doesn’t bite!”). It would be interesting to know the original line.
As far as the dubbing direction is concerned a few positive points must be made although there are also a couple of negative ones. The choice of Mr. Tumnus’s voice is quite well chosen and the dubber’s reciting gives the character it’s just tone: when frightened by Lucy’s arrival, it’s shy and hesitant and warm and tender when he has to console her. The voices of the four children are well chosen, particularly worthy of note is the reciting of Lucy’s dubber who manages to maintain the young girl’s sweetness. The white Witch’s voice is not a bad choice but the tone is too dull with respect to the expression and face of the actress (Tilda Swinton).
On the contrary, a bad choice is the voice of the witch’s servant; it’s womanly if not downright feminine. The downside of the entire dubbing of the film is the choice of the lion Aslan’s voice. In the original film it’s Liam Neeson’s warm reassuring voice dubbing the lion. In the Italian version it’s Omar Sharif whose trembling voice makes the king of the forest seem old and unwell. A captivating authoritative and impelling voice should have been chosen whereas the choice fell on a voice which doesn’t suit the character to such an extent that it caused bursts of laughter at the first line. Aslan is one of the main roles and a mistake like that should not have been made for such an important character. At most the voice of the Witch’s servant can be accepted as he has perhaps no more than ten lines to say but Aslan is of much more importance.
In conclusion, the dialogues are often imprecise or inadequate but there are no huge mistakes, whereas regarding the dubbing direction the bad choice of Aslan’s voice stands out. For a film which should be “Disney’s Christmas film” the Italian version could have been more thorough, more accurate and on the whole better done.
[original review in Italian by Alessandra Basile]