Where Idioms Change: the French dubbed version of "Where Eagles Dare"

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Where Eagles Dare is a 1968 British Second World War film directed by Brian G. Hutton, starring Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood and Mary Ure. The plot revolves around a group of soldiers whose mission is to rescue an American general who has been imprisoned by the Nazis in an inaccessible castle in the Bavarian Alps. However, the operation’s real goal is to unmask German double agents who are part of the commando. Chaos ensues, featuring many plot twists, shootings, explosions, chases and even a fight on a cable car. In the original version of the film, all characters speak English, sometimes with a German accent, with the exception of a minor amount of lines in German heard in the background, therefore combining strategies of ‘elimination’, ‘evocation’ and limited ‘presence’ for foreign languages (Bleichenbacher 2008). The French dubbed version (Quand les aigles attaquent, released in March 1969), however, took a radically different approach, hereby creating a remarkable case in French dubbing. Indeed, while the scenes in which the characters are supposed to speak English are dubbed into French, German is used in the sequences where it would logically be spoken in the story world. The dubbed version, which in fact borrows excerpts from the German dub, therefore gives more prominence to a foreign language than the original does by using the strategy of ‘presence’ where necessary. Using concepts and taxonomies put forward by Bleichenbacher (2008), Corrius & Zabalbeascoa (2011) and Delabastita (2010), this paper examines the strat egies and operations applied by the filmmakers and translators in order to represent language difference, also referred to as ‘heterolingualism’ (Grutman 2006), depending on the communicative configurations (i.e. speech participants, context). The analysis shows the sizeable influence of those strategies on characterization, plot and overall suspense management.
Period30 Nov 2017
Event titleTrafilm Conference: Multilingual Film and Audiovisual Translation
Event typeConference
LocationBarcelona, SpainShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Audiovisual Translation
  • Dubbing
  • L3
  • Heterolingualism
  • Translation
  • Doublage
  • Traduction