Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Schlussmacher (German)

Schlussmacher literally means "The Endmaker" and it was a popular German comedy about a man who is hired to do the dirty work of a breaking-up for his clients.  (If ever there was ever a movie screaming to be remade into an American comedy, it was this.)

Here are few changes I would have made in the subtitling.

Example 1:

“Realize” is overwhelmingly used in English in the sense of understanding something for the first time, rather than to express the idea of getting something done. There is a better way to translate how it is meant in this context:

 Alternatively:"The client makes a decision, and I carry it out," would work fine as well, but I liked the repetition of "make" here.

Example 2:
One of the first "jobs" we witness Schlussmacher do entails him explaining to a jilted wife why her husband wants a divorce:

"Choleric" is a perfectly good word, but hasn't been used in English much since the 19th century. The subtitler should have kept it simple.

After the ‘I’m-not-angry’ spurned wife has a fit of fury with a pillow, our protagonist comically encourages her to "let go:"

But in English, he would probably use a different word than “scope.”

If I had a relationship with the director in which he or she really encouraged the dialogue to be written as it would have been in English, I might suggest: "Don't hold back. Really."  Making these kind of proposals is always a judgment call, of course, but I'd like this blog to give potential clients an idea of what it would be like to use a subtitler who understands how comedic translation should entail an entire extra step in the thinking process.

Comedy is much harder to translate effectively than drama.  And one job I will always turn down unless there's enough money to pay for a genius translator is the work of a stand-up comic.  (Professional discretion, unfortunately, prevents me from telling the story of the particular nightmare job that led to that vow.)

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