translation and the remake

My MA thesis argued that the Hollywood remake was a form of imperialistic, domesticating translation that mirrored the dominant literary translation style and hid the foreign other. I still believe this.

However, I’ve been thinking more and more about all of the things that slowly steeped into my brain from the words and lectures of my advisor. She works on memory, pleasure, history, time, repetition et cetera. As my work has been leaning more and more toward the area that I was hesitant to hit before (gaming), I’m thinking more and more about remakes and demakes and the logics (cultural, economic, political) at work in those forms and how they are both similar to and different from the logics at work with cinematic remakes. Particularly, I’m mixing the primary idea of translation with that of time.

One of the problems that I ran into with my thesis is the differences between remakes (typological) as they relate to different temporal distances. Which is to say, the meaning/logics in play with a remake is different both the further away it is from the “original” as well as depending on the relationship it has with the “original.” With my thesis I focused almost entirely on a particular form of relationship both to limit the depth of the analysis and to enable a stronger support for my own reading. Obviously, when one compared the remake that moves a film from foreign cinematic tradition to local one (リング to The Ring) my argument held, but when one mixed up those that held different logics (typology) such as earlier time to present (Psycho to Psycho) or versions of a story (Robin Hood to Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves) the situation became muddled.

While I still believe that there is a certain translational logic that aligns with work done on imperialistic translation styles (eg: Venuti), I am now far enough from the work to be able to recognize and awknowledge the problems with the argument. I realize that even the title of this blog recognizes the transition even if I did not at the moment.

I don’t know where this will lead at the moment, but hopefully the work will lead to interesting conclusions. For now, I can definitely say that I’m looking more into ideas of memory/repetition/pleasure as an offset to themes of translation. This does not mean that I’m abandoning the concept of translation. Far from it, I still believe translation is an incredibly useful term for understanding how texts move between places, but I’ve realized that I can no longer ignore the agency/subjectivity at play causing those texts to move. In order to approach those concepts I need to look elsewhere if I am to avoid the simple false consciousness dead end premature conclusion. While there are certainly systemic aspects determining the form and content of texts as well as the method of movement there is also very real action being taken shaking up the system: fansubs, metatitles and demakes are all born in/as some form of agency/resistance.

2 thoughts on “translation and the remake”

  1. Best answer I can give is this: A more detailed answer would involve ideas of nostalgia, nerdiness, and anti-mimesis engine/graphical revolution impulses. Similar, but different to some of the remake issues. In particular, think of the 8bit music remixing, which deals with very similar issues, but add in a healthy dose of content memory in addition to the form memory.

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