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Credits

subject:

Larry Beinhart, from the novel “American Hero”

screenplay:

Hilary Henkin, David Mamet

direction:

Barry Levinson

produced by:

Jane Rosenthal, Robert De Niro, Barry Levinson for New Line, Tribecca, Baltimore Pictures, Punch

distributed by:

Cecchi Gori Distribuzione

Italian dialogues:

Mario Paolinelli

dubbing direction:

Pino Colizzi

editing society:

C.D. Cine Doppiaggi

Voices:

Robert De Niro:

Ferruccio Amendola

Dustin Hoffman:

Giorgio Lopez

Anne Heche:

Claudia Razzi

Denis Leary:

Luca Ward

Willie Nelson:

Dante Biagioni

Andrea Martin:

Angiolina Quinterno

William H. Macy:

Mino Caprio

Woody Harrelson:

Roberto Pedicini

Michael Belson:

Luigi La Monica

Suzie Plakson:

Micaela Esdra

Italian
dialogue
5
Dubbing
direction
4,5

Wag the Dog
USA 1997

We find ourselves in front of a fast film, in some moments very fast, hence respecting and favouring the rapidity with which the problem must be solved, theme of the film: just a few days before the US Presidential elections, in the race for re-election, the President is accused of molesting a head girl scout during a visit with her group at the White House. Conrad Brean (Robert De Niro) is called in to help and he invents and diffuses the news of a war between the United States and Albania in order to distract the attention of the voters. In order to do that he requests the help of Stanley Motts (Dustin Hoffman), a cinematographic producer. The two manage perfectly in the undertaking, but in the end, Motts, arguing with Brean, insists on a public acknowledgement of his merits: we learn of his death in the news.

The Italian title "Sesso e potere" (sex and power) compared to "Wag the Dog", the original title, is certainly misleading and limited, even though it probably had the merit of attracting a few more curious and later disappointed, spectators to the cinema.

The adaptation of this film does not seem to move too far away from the script.

Brean’s line: «Mi basta un giorno. Mi serve solo un po’ di respiro» (All I need is the one day), which seems even longer than the original, is an example of the style chosen by the Italian dialogue author and followed by the dubbing director: the line is recited very quickly (so the length is absorbed) because the need to solve the problem is so rushed that you’ve got no time to breathe. Thus here the adaptation perfectly renders the idea and recreates the atmosphere of the film and we, the public, find it difficult to keep up with Brean just like Ames, and have the same reactions.

Another example:

Brean: «Bè, lei che ne dice? Useremo questa come base delle operazioni. Ho bisogno di un giorno, no, due giorni. Qualcuno contatti quei coglioni del Post, e si faccia scappare un: “Oh dio, speriamo che la cosa non mandi a puttane il programma B-3” “Quale programma B-3, e perché dovrebbe andare a puttane?” “Bè, se il presidente decidesse di usare il B-3 prima che tutti i test siano completati…” “Usare il B-3 prima che i test siano completati?” “Già” “E perché?” “Perché? La crisi!”» (And, to hold it together, I need two days. There is no B-2 bomber: here’s what you do about that: whoever is leaking stuff to that geek at the post, lets it slip, “Geez, I hope this doesn’t screw up the B-2 Program…” “What B-2 Program, and why should it screw it up?” “If the president moves to deploy the B-2 before it is fully tested”. “Deploy the B-2, why?” “In the Crisis”)

The Italian version is effective, and the result is excellent, also thanks to the dubber’s skill in managing to perfectly render a situation of anxiety which makes one speak faster than normal.

It’s obvious that a literal translation would not have had the same effect. And furthermore:

Cain: «Non esiste un bombardiere B-3!» (But there isn’t a B-2 bomber!)

Brean: «Bè, se vuole può chiamarlo B-4» (Where’d you go to school, kid)

Also here the translation hasn’t been faithful to the original version, but the irony of Brean’s answer is certainly very effective in the construction of the character.

These are only some examples of what could be described as a liberal adaptation which is, true, a different adaptation in Italian but not because of this, “unfaithful” to the sense that the screenwriters intended to give to the story.

The job of translator, and copious research on the argument demonstrates this, isn’t simple: it’s not enough to know a foreign language, you have to understand the sense the author intended to give to his lines and then try and render the idea in the best possible way. Thus the translator is considered in every respect another author, and for this, even though one doesn’t notice, a good adaptation job has a role anything but marginal in the success of a film.

If well done, the dubbing has the merit of rendering enjoyable a product born in another language, and this is thanks to the capability of the dialogist in finding solutions of re-writing and to the capability of the dubbing director in finding the most adapt Italian voices to interpret the characters of the actors and in directing them in their interpretation of the same.

The Italian version of “Sesso e potere” demonstrates this assumption very well. For this, my opinion of this film’s adaptation is very high, just as my opinion of the dubbing direction which managed to keep up the quick rhythm of the dialogues and managed to guide the dubbers in their interpretation of the characters very well.

An excellent cast, even though every now and again doubts arise on the habit of using the same dubber for a particular actor and therefore Ferruccio Amendola, and then Giorgio Lopez, Claudia Razzi, Angiolina Quinterno, Luigi La Monica and all the others who, nearly ten years ago, worked with such zeal; finally an invite to those dubbers who ignore, or who are less careful than these ‘veterans’ on how important their contribution is to the success or not of a film.

Every job can be done well more or less, but in the artistic profession negligence and carelessness are inadmissible, because one presumes that an artist dedicates himself with love to the job he is doing and that he does his utmost not to ruin it or devalue it.

[original review in Italian by Arturo Pennazzi]

 

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