- Dubbing foreign films was introduced in Spain in 1932, and was carried out for years largely at Trilla-La Riva, a Barcelona company. It was in the Catalan capital that the practice flourished in the prewar years. The practice of shooting "alternative versions" (often with different actors) in Hollywood and in European studios, which had prevailed as a standard in the early years of the talkies, was costly and soon abandoned in favor of simply adding a different soundtrack. Dubbing took off quickly in a country where rates for illiteracy were around 50 percent.Inspired by recent measures introduced by Benito Mussolini in Italy, Francisco Franco's government made it compulsory for (misguided) political reasons: following a 1941 decree, every foreign film released had to be dubbed into Spanish first and required a license only government institutions could award. The explicit rationale was that in dubbing, the Spanish language (and the essence of Spanish culture itself) would be "protected." But from the very beginning, even directors closest to official ideologies disagreed: it was claimed that what was introduced as a way of protecting the language could have a detrimental effect on the Spanish film industry as a whole, since one way that Spanish films could compete with U.S. products was that they could be more easily understood. Clearly, dubbing benefited exhibitors and distributors, but had a negative impact on Spanish producers and filmmakers. When it ceased to be compulsory in 1947, audiences were used to it and there was no going back.During the late 1940s, new measures for the protection of Spanish cinema were introduced, and dubbing was integrated in the scheme. Since dubbed Hollywood films could bring in more money, it was decided that permission to exhibit the Spanish version would only be granted to a distribution company when it also released a certain number of Spanish films (the result being that cheap films were produced to "buy" dubbing licenses that allowed the release of more-attractive Hollywood products). Within the ideological project of Francoism, dubbing could be a way to censor films and eliminate offensive or politically sensitive motifs. A number of cases have gone down in history: in the dubbed version of Casablanca, Rick did not support the Spanish Republican army, and a married couple in Mogambo (John Ford, 1952) were dubbed so that the wife's affair with Clark Gable would not be adulterous.The status of films in the original version changed slightly with introduction in 1961 of special cinemas ("Arte y ensayo") that were allowed to show problematic foreign films as long as they were subtitled rather than dubbed. Thus, films in foreign languages were also associated with "art" and obscurity, and therefore ghettoized by wider audiences who preferred entertainment. Even today, only in the largest cities are Spaniards offered the alternative to see films in their original versions. Dubbing became a practice even for Spanish films, as it meant a quicker shooting period, and some Spanish directors claimed it smoothed the projects and allowed actors to concentrate on performance, rather than on the location of microphones. In spite of these economic advantages, the result is a certain flat quality to sound and voices in Spanish cinema overall.It is unlikely that the situation will ever change. Given the centrality of dubbing, a solid industry had grown up around it, employing a small body of committed professionals. Important stars were dubbed by the same actors, and in time directors such as Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg chose to work with specific dubbing directors (Carlos Saura directed the Spanish version of Kubrick films). Such auteurist dubbing brings issues of its own, as it seems a central condition of dubbing that it is "invisible" and audiences will consistently reject dubbing that calls attention on itself. The result is that dubbing professionals work to keep Spanish versions flat and standardized, and any dialectal and stylistic richness of originals tends to be lost in translation.Historical Dictionary of Spanish Cinema by Alberto Mira***Ever since the arrival of sound, Italians have watched (or rather heard) all foreign-language films in their own language. The practice of dubbing foreign films, now not only accepted but generally demanded by Italian audiences themselves, was first imposed on the industry by a decree, signed by Mussolini in 1927, that prohibited the screening of foreign films in their original languages. As more and more films came to be made in sound and the stock of silent films dwindled, the government's intransigence created a crisis in the supply of films for exhibition. The only version of Hollywood films shown in Italy during the early sound period were either Italian-ver-sion films already dubbed by the major studios themselves in Hollywood (Paramount had established a facility at Joinville in Paris for the purpose), the quality of which was usually execrable due to the poor language abilities of the Italian American actors employed, or muted versions in which the dialogue had been removed from the soundtrack, leaving only music and sounds, with the meaning of the dialogue conveyed by intertitles. Given the dearth of films being produced in Italy at the time, Italian cinemas faced a desertion by cinemagoers. Dubbing thus came to be the industry's solution to this intricate problem.A further Fascist law in 1933 prohibited even the projection of foreign films dubbed outside Italy. By this time, however, a dubbing unit had already been set up within the revived Cines studios in Rome under the directorship of Mario Almirante, an actor and screenwriter who had also directed some 20 films during the silent period. Among the first films to be dubbed at the Cines facility were Rene Clair's A nous la liberie (Liberty for Us, 1931, although the Italian title changed the plural "us" to the singular "me") and Georg Wilhelm Pabst's Kameradschaft (Comradeship, 1931) and Die Herrin von Atlantis (Queen of Atlantis, 1932). The first group of dubbers included Mario Ferrari, Olinto Cristina, Tina Lattanzi, Ugo Cesari, Gero Zambuto (later to direct Toto in his first film), Augusto Marcacci, and Camillo Pilotto (later to star in, among other significant films, Mario Camerini's Il grande appello The Last Roll-Call, 1936). There soon followed the establishment of other dubbing studios such as Fotovox, under the directorship of Franco Schirato, Fono Roma under Salvatore Persichetti, and Itala-Acustica, headed by Vincenzo Sorelli. In 1932 MGM set up its own Italian dubbing unit in Rome under Augusto Galli. After establishing the unit Galli returned to the United States in 1935, leaving its management in the hands of Franco Schirato. Other American majors also established their own Italian dubbing units: Paramount, under the direction of Luigi Savini, Warner Brothers under Nicola Fausto Neroni, and Twentieth Century Fox under Vittorio Malpassuti.Given how widespread the practice had become, most critics came to accept dubbing as a necessary evil and many reviews, even in specialized and academic journals such as Bianco e nero, regularly commented on the quality of the dubbing as part of their appraisal of the film in question. Nevertheless, some disquiet about the practice remained. In 1936 Luigi Chiarini spoke out against it in the pages of the film journal Lo Schermo, and soon thereafter Michelangelo Antonioni also criticized the practice in several articles published in the journal Cinema. In 1941, a survey promoted by Cinema found deep-seated and widespread opposition to the practice from many quarters. However, dubbing had by now taken firm root and it was clear that audiences, at least, were unwilling to forego the easy option it offered in contrast to subtitles.With the withdrawal of the American majors from Italy in the wake of the promulgation of the 1938 law giving monoply control over distribution of all foreign films to the Ente Nazionale Industrie Cinematografiche (ENIC, National Film Industries Authority), there was a marked decrease in the number of foreign films circulating in Italy and thus in the need to dub. The small number of American films that did screen in Italy during the war had been mostly dubbed in Hollywood and exhibited the same deficiences as previous attempts in the early days of sound. The practice returned in earnest, together with the massive presence of the American majors, at the end of the war. In 1944, immediately following the liberation of Rome, a number of actors who had worked as dubbers before the war joined together to form the Cooperativa Doppiatori Cinematografici (Cooperative of Film Dubbers, CDC), soon followed by the Organizzazione Doppiatori Cinematografici (Organization of Film Dubbers, ODI). Ironically, a strong boost to the dubbing industry was provided not only by the huge influx of Hollywood films into Italy during this period but also by Italian-language neorealist films themselves, since on-location shooting and the use of nonprofessional actors meant that most neorealist films required the soundtrack and dialogue to be added in postproduction. All this experience led to Italian dubbing units becoming among the best in the world. Although films were now dubbed as a matter of course, the question of "to dub or not to dub" continued to be raised sporadically in film circles in the following years. In 1956 the journal Cinema took up the issue again in a two-part inquiry in which directors such as Vittorio De Sica declared their firm opposition to it in principle, in spite of having practiced it themselves out of necessity (Lamberto Maggiorani in De Sica's Bicycle Thieves had been dubbed by a professional actor). In February 1968 the authoritative journal Filmcritica carried the so-called Manifesto of Amalfi in which most of the major directors, among them Michelangelo Antonioni, Marco Bellocchio, Bernardo Bertolucci, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Alberto Lattuada, and Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, called for the complete abolition of the practice as the only way to ensure the survival of Italian cinema. This was followed by another extensive survey of major directors in Filmcritica in July-August 1970, which again reported strong opposition to the practice. None of this served to stem the tide, however, and by the 1980s dubbing was such an inescapable feature of Italian cinema that the Rivista del cinematografo ran a dossier in its September-December issue of 1982 that demonstrated, with extensive documentation, the absolute professionalism and creativity of the practice, which had always been regarded as the Cinderella of the Italian film industry. The continuing, indeed increased, dominance over the Italian market by foreign films in the following two decades ensured that dubbing gained complete respectability. In certain cases during the 1990s, producers began to include the names of dubbers in the film's credits. Consequently, dubbers in Italy have now achieved a status, if not a visibility, comparable to that of film actors themselves. Among the most respected names in Italian dubbing are Gualtiero De Angelis, Emilio Cigoli, Oreste Lionello (the Italian voice of Woody Allen), Tina Lattanzi, Maria Pia Di Meo, and Ferruccio Amendola (the Italian voice of, among others, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, and Al Pacino). Among the famous Italian actors who have also worked as dubbers are Alberto Sordi (voice of Oliver Hardy and Robert Mitchum) and Gino Cervi (the voice of Sir Laurence Olivier, Orson Welles, Clark Gable, and James Stewart).Historical Dictionary of Italian Cinema by Alberto Mira
Guide to cinema. Academic. 2011.