Lost in non-translation? Analysing film voices from a position of linguistic incompetence

Garwood, I. (2016) Lost in non-translation? Analysing film voices from a position of linguistic incompetence. Music, Sound, and the Moving Image, 10(2), pp. 189-206. (doi: 10.3828/msmi.2016.10)

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This article identifies a widespread ‘deaf-spot’ in English-language criticism of the foreign-language film, namely the lack of attention given to the foreign-language voice. It points to the key driver behind this omission: an anxiety about the ability of the critic to capture sound through writing that is exacerbated when that sound carries language beyond the critic’s comprehension. The article proposes a style of criticism that acknowledges the limitations caused by linguistic incompetence, but that also finds a ‘way in’ to the vocal soundtrack, through attention to certain non-semantic qualities of voice. This interpretative practice is tested through an analysis of the vocal soundtrack of Happy Together (Wong Kar-wai, 1997), which is followed by a critical reflection on the relevance of this reading strategy to wider debates about foreign spectatorship, world cinema and the role of subjectivity within film criticism.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Garwood, Dr Ian
Authors: Garwood, I.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
Journal Name:Music, Sound, and the Moving Image
Publisher:Liverpool University Press
ISSN (Online):1753-0776
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 Liverpool University Press
First Published:First published in Music, Sound, and the Moving Image 10(2):189-206
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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