Subject and screenplay:
Wes Anderson, Owen Wilson
Wes Anderson, Barry Mendel and Scott Rudin for Touchstone Pictures
Buena Vista International Italia
Italian dialogue and dubbing direction:
Ugo Maria Morosi
Massimo De Ambrosis
Alec Baldwin (narrating voice):
Sergio Di Stefano
The narration of this clever surrealistic family story is divided into chapters. An off-screen voice which accompanies us throughout the film, illustrates events, characters, introduces each chapter, acting as a main lead. At the beginning some scenes are purely descriptive commented by the off-screen voice and by some translated explanations.
The voice doesn’t belong to any of the actors, it’s neutral, whilst the characters, being very different from one another and sometimes different even from themselves in various moments of their lives adopt different manners of speech depending on situations and moments in which they find themselves.
The adaptation and an excellent cast of dubbers whose voices perfectly match the character roles they interpret have the merit of bringing this variety to perfection and make the film highly enjoyable also in the Italian version.
Let’s go in order: the three children: Chas, Margot e Richie, are introduced to us, in addition to the explanations mentioned above, whilst in the throes of asking their father Royal for an explanation, on the cause of their parents’ separation.
Chas, dressed as an adult, has an extremely polished way of talking, which in a child is a bit ridiculous and is in perfect accord with the image we are given (suffice to note, in the following scenes, that he wears a tie whilst lifting weights and behaves like a young career man even though, age-wise, he hasn’t reached adolescence).
We find him again as an adult, but due to his recent, not yet faced, loss, giving vent to all his phobias and frustrations, living with the fear of dying, always wearing the one and only tracksuit (the same as the children Ari e Uzi) and his manner of speech is no longer polished, anything but; this also coincides with a radical change in his behavior towards his father with whom he becomes extremely impolite and impatient.
Margot speaks little, she expresses herself with concise sentences and by contrast writes so much that she’s seen as being a playwright at an early age. Depressed from time immemorial (due to the constant reminder, by Royal, that she is adopted) tremendously reserved, very attached to her habits/routine, we see her with the same hair clip, the same fur coat, the same shoes and striped dresses for her whole life described in the film and we presume that she’ll never change, just like her way of expressing herself will never change: few but effective sentences.
Richie, a tennis star who will never abandon his sports shirt and who will take off his headband only once he’s decided to change his life, showing his love for Margot, a decision rendered obvious when he shaves his beard off, cuts his hair and attempts suicide. Despite his idiosyncrasies, which are normal within the context of the film, he seems to be the only one capable of having a relationship with his father, with whom we find him twice having a conversation, in which they both bare their feelings.
Etheline, the children’s mother, is always moderate and elegant, she has a high level of speech, a hardly ever excessive tone of voice and is polite even when she expresses her strongest feelings (for example in the dialogue with Royal "I’m dying – I’m not dying", or in the scene in which Henry asks her to marry him). She manages to remain a lady even when she throws Royal out of the house after having found out that he invented the story of his illness because he was broke – but this is only the financial reason, because the off screen voice informs us that Royal maybe really wanted to come back into the family household.
Royal, a fantastic Gene Hackman, and a likewise fantastic Sergio Fiorentini, manages to make himself immediately unpleasant with regards to Margot, but he’s the only one who doesn’t have a stereotype to whom one could refer to; he lives, or at least he tries to, facing difficulties as they come his way and maybe he’s the only one to face them with irony (see the epitaph which makes us smile even at his funeral, apart from Chas’ tracksuit, this time black).
He‘s also the only one who uses coarse language, always in a funny way because we find him in the middle of confidential conversations (scolding Chas and, referring to himself, talking with Margot and with Ari and Uzi), but he’s never vulgar, and it makes his character nearer to what is every day speech.
Amongst the other characters who must be praised amongst the interpreters we ‘see’ and those we ‘hear’, Eli stands out, a childhood friend of the Tenenbaums of whom he would have loved to have been part and writer of books on Indians. Some original witty things – the sending of the college votes to Etheline and his newspaper reviews, the paintings in his house, the inseparable cowboy hat – are expressed to maximum levels by the speech with which he expresses himself.
He’s frustrated because he’s not appreciated by the critics, even though the public is of a different opinion, and Valli gives us an excellent example in the translation of some lines from his book; for example, "il frusticolo di cuoio rotto sulla trama del sellacchio". (the whip of broken leather on the saddle).
In conclusion, an excellent translation and an exemplary dubbing direction.
[original review in Italian by Arturo Pennazzi]