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Subtitles: On the Foreignness of Film
     

Subtitles: On the Foreignness of Film

by Atom Egoyan
 

"Every film is a foreign film," Atom Egoyan and Ian Balfour tell us in their introduction to Subtitles. How, then, to translate the experience of film — which, as Egoyan says, makes us "feel outside and inside at the same time"? Taking subtitles as their point of departure, the thirty-two contributors to this unique collection consider translation, foreignness

Overview

"Every film is a foreign film," Atom Egoyan and Ian Balfour tell us in their introduction to Subtitles. How, then, to translate the experience of film — which, as Egoyan says, makes us "feel outside and inside at the same time"? Taking subtitles as their point of departure, the thirty-two contributors to this unique collection consider translation, foreignness, and otherness in film culture. Their discussions range from the mechanics and aesthetics of subtitles themselves to the xenophobic reaction to translation to subtitles as a metaphor for the distance and intimacy of film.The essays, interviews, and visuals include a collaboration by Russell Banks and Atom Egoyan, which uses quotations from Banks's novel The Sweet Hereafter as subtitles for publicity stills from Egoyan's film of the book; three early film reviews by Jorge Luis Borges; an interview with filmmaker Claire Denis about a scene in her film Friday Night that should not have been subtitled; and Eric Cazdyn's reading of the running subtitles on CNN's post-9/11 newscasts as a representation of new global realities. Several writers deal with translating cultural experience for an international audience, including Frederic Jameson on Balkan cinema, John Mowitt on the history of the "foreign film" category in the Academy Awards, and Ruby Rich on the marketing of foreign films and their foreign languages — "Somehow, I'd like to think it's harder to kill people when you hear their voices," she writes. And Slavoj Zizek considers the "foreign gaze" (seen in films by Hitchcock, Lynch, and others), the misperception that sees too much.Designed by Egoyan and award-winning graphic designer Gilbert Li, the book includes many color images and ten visual projects by artists and filmmakers. The pages are horizontal, suggesting a movie screen; they use the cinematic horizontal aspect ratio of 1.66:1. Subtitles gives us not only a new way to think about film but also a singular design object.Subtitles is being copublished by The MIT Press and Alphabet City Media (John Knechtel, Director). Subtitles has been funded in part by grants from The Canada Council for the Arts, The Henry N.R. Jackman Foundation, and the Toronto Arts Council, and the Ontario Arts Council.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A big treat of Subtitles is the 'art object' graphic design... and the book's unusual Cinemascope shape." Gerald Peary The Boston Phoenix

Sukhdev Sandhu
...a remarkable 500-page book, printed in 1.66:1 Cinemascope ratio, that not only explores the history and contemporary usage of subtitles, but uses them as a metaphor for discussing a very wide range of topics... Ultimately, and this is what makes the book so rich and resonant, to talk about subtitles is to talk about the boundaries that we construct, or that are constructed for us, to separate the local from the foreign, "us" from "them".
The New Statesman

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780262050784
Publisher:
MIT Press
Publication date:
10/01/2004
Series:
Alphabet City
Pages:
544
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.75(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"A big treat of Subtitles is the 'art object' graphic design...

and the book's unusual Cinemascope shape." Gerald Peary The Boston Phoenix

The MIT Press

"With this lovingly edited and designed collection, filmmaker Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter, Ararat) and literature professor Ian Balfour celebrate the much-maligned middlemen of world cinema: subtitles. While definitely a high-brow gift-tome, it's an approachable one, thanks in large part to its exceptional attention to design. The book's gorgeous layout was created by Egoyan with designer Gilbert Li, and they've simply outdone themselves. It's the little things that matter: the book's wide-format layout mimics a silver screen, right down to an insanely anal use of the cinematic 1.66:1 ratio." Boldtype

The MIT Press

Meet the Author

Atom Egoyan is an internationally acclaimed film director whose works include The Sweet Hereafter, Ararat, Exotica, and Calendar.

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