AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

Voices and Silences: Exploring English and French Versions at the National Film Board of Canada, 1939-1974

by Christine York

Institution: University of Ottawa
Year: 2014
Keywords: versioning; voice-over; audiovisual translation; NFB; National Film Board of Canada; versions; voix hors-champ; traduction audiovisuelle; ONF; Office national du film du Canada
Record ID: 2025331
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/31195


Voices and Silences: Exploring English and French Versions at the National Film Board of Canada, 1939-1974 Abstract The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is unique as a state-sponsored filmmaking institution for its bilingualism: it has consistently produced and distributed films in English and French and made versions of some of those films in the opposite language. This doctoral thesis fills a gap in existing literature on the NFB and in translation studies by taking the versions as its object of study. The corpus is drawn from the vast body of audiovisual productions made by the NFB between 1939 and 1974, when voice-over was the preferred mode of audiovisual translation. Voice-over can refer to either the translated narration that replaces the original voice of narration-led documentaries, or to the audiovisual voice-over of documentaries built around interviews and spontaneous speech. Against the backdrop of asymmetrical language relations between English and French in Canada, this thesis offers a retelling of the NFB’s early history that emphasizes the intertwining threads of English and French production and identifies several approaches to version making. From 1939 to the mid-1950s, with English-language production dominant at the NFB and little original production in French, versions from English to French were a central element of film in Quebec. They bear witness to an interventionist approach to translating, whereby the original film is treated as raw material that can be shaped to appeal to local audiences. Subsequently, an increase in French original production, reflecting changing documentary aesthetics and growing nationalism in Quebec, led to a correspondingly higher number of French-to-English versions. These versions adopted a mediating approach by adding a narrator’s voice in English to originals that eschewed narration, bringing the innovative French films into conformity with the traditional model. The period from 1967 to 1974 is one of fragmentation and is characterized by a high level of non-translation, whether of the Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle films or those of Studio D. The few films that were versioned, however, showed great sensitivity to language. Non-translation of a different kind can be found in many Aboriginal films produced at the NFB. The NFB’s long-standing commitment to translation makes it a valuable site for studying audiovisual translation practices and changing language relations in Canada. Voix et silences : Une exploration des versions anglaises et françaises produites par l’Office national du film du Canada, 1939-1974 Résumé L’Office national du film du Canada (ONF), institution financée par l’État pour la création d’œuvres cinématographiques, se distingue par son bilinguisme, car il a toujours produit et distribué ses films en anglais ou en français tout en prenant soin de fournir une version dans la langue opposée. La thèse se penche sur ces versions et vient combler un vide dans les recherches sur l’ONF ainsi qu’en traductologie. Le corpus à…