When watching dubbed versions of Shakespeare plays adapted into film (that use the original dialogue, as opposed to loose adaptations) and translated into my language, they are of course dubbed in a way similar to the original dialogue, regarding its poetic qualities and archaic language (as opposed to just being translated into "normal" everyday dialogue).

What I do wonder, though, is to which degree those dubs actually use the wealth of pre-existing official translations of those plays (as published in written form and e.g. used in education) or if they attempt to re-translate the entirety of the dialogue anew. I could imagine that it might not always be easy to fit a translation primarily made for an independent production to the additional requirements arising from dubbing (e.g. lip-syncing). Yet it also seems futile to try and reinvent the wheel when people much better versed in the intricacies of poetry have already done significant prior work in properly translating this dialogue.

So, to what degree do dubbed versions of Shakespeare1 plays actually employ existing official translations of those plays in contrast to completely redubbing it from the ground up? Do they use a mixture of trying to redub it as best as possible while still consulting the existing translations? Is there a somewhat general approach or does this depend on the specific film (in the latter case a few examples of the various approaches used by different films would be interesting, if not too broad)? It might also depend on the specific dubbing industry, but in this case it might be worth adding that my personal experience and field of interest primarily concentrates on the more prolific and competent dubbing industries (in my case the German one, to be precise).

1) This could in fact be extended to any kind of film-adaptations of plays, but to be honest, Shakepeare is the only one that comes to my mind as having produced a significant amount of films, as well as having a language significantly different from "everyday dialogue", as well as having a significant amount of pre-existing translated material.

  • 2
    I think the word 'official' is unhelpful. There are no official translations, but of course there will be more and less renowned and respected translations. Shakespeare's work is not copyright, so anyone is a allowed to publish their own translation.
    – bdsl
    Aug 21, 2016 at 13:00
  • @bdsl Well, then say "published". Something you can actually buy in a bookstore as opposed to something a random guy on the internet made up.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Aug 21, 2016 at 14:10
  • Could you just say existing? Meaning written independently as a translation of the play rather than for the purpose of the film? That seems like an interesting question. If you want to say "published" rather than "official" you can edit your question.
    – bdsl
    Aug 21, 2016 at 14:12
  • This doesn't answer your question but, one other problem with this might be that even in play-form, not all directors directed the play in the same manner as early-original-productions had, as even Shakespeare was thought to re-write and rework some of his plays--so some of the "intonations" or execution of words in any given adaptation (be play, film, or his parables) may be attributed to a director's (and/or actors') interpretation of said material. People argue about Shakespearian lit all the time, especially his "problem plays". Oct 31, 2017 at 0:00
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    @cipricus I know you can't. I really do. ;-)
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jul 3, 2021 at 15:03


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