Monday, January 09, 2017

Being George Clooney (2016)

After watching Downfall, I needed something lighter.  I wanted something that wasn’t as intense.  One of the movies I came across was Being George Clooney.  The description said that it was about the voice actors that lend their voices to George Clooney’s roles in other countries.  I wondered how they could get 90 minutes out of something that seems so simple.  It turns out that dubbing is more complicated than I thought.

In America, we’re used to subtitles.  Anime fans even debate the merits of subtitles versus dubbing.  In other countries, the audiences prefer dubbing.  In fact, Italy mandated dubbing so that Italian audiences wouldn’t hear the language of the enemy.  There is a cultural preference for hearing your own language, even if the movie is from another country.

A lot of effort goes into the translation.  It’s not enough to get the words right.  Matching words to lip movements requires a dubbing director.  It seems relatively easy going from English to a language like German.  Both are close to each other linguistically.  When going to Hindi, idioms become more difficult to translate.  One dubber was called in to translate medical terminology and was asked to dub for Clooney on ER  because his voice was so similar.

Each of the various voice actors come across as being friendly.  They enjoy what they do and even get varying degrees of fame for it in their respective countries.  Some have a following.  Italy even has a category for it in their version of the Academy Awards.

The studios don’t always recognize the actors’ efforts.  Even though the international market can be twice as big as domestic, most get paid very little.  Often, their names are left out of the credits.  If they do appear, it’s at the very end.  This, despite dubbing being as much a part of the movie experience as anything else.  Movies probably would not do as well internationally without the efforts of the voice talent.

I was wondering why they chose George Clooney for the title, but the documentary doesn’t stick with just him.  Most of the voice actors interviewed voice Clooney’s roles.  However, we get to see other motion pictures, like Transformers and Seinfeld, translated.  All of the voice actors love what they do and seem to like the man they’ve become associated with.

Overall, it was an enjoyable hour and a half.  It does give you a new perspective on something you might not otherwise think about.  One of the advantages of Netflix is that I get to watch movies like this.  I’d recommend watching it.

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