The one place on earth where John Wayne could call Kirk Douglas "my love"
April 21, 2010 3:17 PM   Subscribe

Watching Westerns in Iran: True Dub is a short reminiscence of watching John Wayne movies (among other things) dubbed into Farsi. From Bidoun Magazine. Discovered via Unte Reader, which has the slightly condensed version between its covers this month.
posted by loosemouth (9 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
The Unte Reader is my preferred source of arch, sophisticated typos.
posted by saturday_morning at 3:54 PM on April 21, 2010

Every time an actor turned his back, the dubbers, freed from any obligation to sync with the image, would throw in some slangy insults—corpse-washer, stinking vulture—and during gunfights there was always time for jahel philosophizing.

If only our American John Wayne were so expressive! Great piece.
posted by a sourceless light at 4:03 PM on April 21, 2010

Very keen! I wonder what influence these movies had on the country at large, beyond the swagger and the fake English. I'm slowly getting through People Funny Boy, which notes the influences of Cowboy movies in Jamaica, especially the music. There's even a handy compilation to provide a starting point for more on this odd phenomena.

In my search for some handy web references to Jamaica's interest in Westerns, I found that the University of Oklahoma has a class in Italy on Special Topics in Film - The Spaghetti Western (Syllabus in Google Quickview/PDF) Class reading includes: “’Lyrical Gun’: Metaphor and Role Play in Jamaican Dancehall Culture.” I want to go there.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:08 PM on April 21, 2010

"Years later, when I finally saw an episode of Columbo in English, I was stunned at how boring and flat it was. The Persian version felt so perfect; it was the original that came across as the bad dub."
Fascinating story. I had to do a project a few years ago that involved watching a lot of Disney animated movies, that I had already seen about 200 times each. I found that watching them dubbed in French and Spanish helped me see them with fresh eyes and think about them in new ways. I also found that the voices they chose were more pleasant and made more sense than the originals... just like the author says here, the original becomes the bad dub. And why not? It is what it is.
posted by amethysts at 4:12 PM on April 21, 2010

I have always preferred "Wat je van beren leren kan" ("The things a bear can teach you") to "The Bare Necessities", in spite of its dire lack of puns.

Speaking of which, it's almost impossible to describe how silly I felt the day I learnt the English name of the math-obsessed vampire off Sesame Street. You see, in Dutch he's "Graaf Tell": "graaf" (nobleman as in earl) + "tel" (to enumerate), with a trailing L thrown in for apparent Germanic/Slavic effect.

So, I naively wondered, what would be the English rendering of this fellow's name? The moment I realized that the Dutch version was simply derived from two senses of the same English word was the moment I understood how puns get lost in translation.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:35 PM on April 21, 2010

...there ensues between the sheriff and his sidekick a barrage of donkey-related swear words (in which Farsi is particularly rich).

This filled with with a sudden, irrepressible joy.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:48 PM on April 21, 2010

OH! bidoun! it's my favorite magazine!

when i read that article last month i was so sad not to be able to see any of these films.
bidoun is always full of amazing stuff that i will never see unless i grow up in iraq or iran or move to dubai or new york.

thanks for bringing this up; you have totally capped off an amazing day! whooo-EEEEE!!!
posted by artof.mulata at 11:19 PM on April 21, 2010

Thanks for this. If may suggest a companion piece: Watching Shrek in Tehran. "You know, it’s not really the original Shrek that we love so much here. It’s really the dubbing. It’s really more the Iranian Shrek that interests us."
posted by The Mouthchew at 11:45 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

My mother-in-law speaks only Mandarin. Her favorite TV show? Hunter. The people dubbing in Chinese must have done one heck of a job.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:57 AM on April 22, 2010

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