Undoing Dubbing: Singin' in the Rain

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Focusing on the film industry’s transition to sound in the late 1920s, canonical musical Singin’ in the Rain is, foremost, a dubbing narrative. This chapter revisits this film classic in order to bring into focus lesser-known histories relating to screen translation, and to think specifically about the importance of talk and inter-lingual translation to the development of film culture broadly. Singin’s emphasis on dubbing as domestic operation invites reconsideration of the transition era’s ‘language crisis’ and the artificial voice/body combinations integral to foreign-language dubbing. Precisely because Singin’ does not deal directly with issues of inter-lingual translation, it demonstrates how sound technologies catapult issues of language difference and transfer to the very heart of film production, prefiguring the inter-lingual in the everyday.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReassessing Dubbing
Subtitle of host publicationHistorical approaches and current trends
EditorsIrene Ranzato, Serenella Zanotti
Place of PublicationAmsterdam The Netherlands
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9789027262271
ISBN (Print)9789027203465
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Cinema
  • Cinema Studies
  • Film History
  • Dubbing
  • Audiovisual Translation
  • Film sound
  • Singin' in the Rain
  • Early Film
  • Silent Film

Cite this

Dwyer, T. (2019). Undoing Dubbing: Singin' in the Rain. In I. Ranzato, & S. Zanotti (Eds.), Reassessing Dubbing: Historical approaches and current trends (pp. 17-39). John Benjamins Publishing Company.