Thesis: Audiovisual Translation as Propaganda in Greece: From the German Occupation to the Junta of the Colonels
This study examines the extent to which film translation practice in Greece, with particular reference to subtitling, was pressed to the service of (self-)censorship during a turbulent time in Greece’s modern history, the years between 1940 and 1974. Drawing on the thus far underinvestigated subtitle files archived in the film censorship index of the General Secretariat for Press and Information, and on original copies of censored films, this research will offer insights into the censorial mechanisms used by official censorship boards, placing for the first time particular emphasis on the translation of foreign films during Greece’s involvement in the Second World War (1940-1945) and the Greek Civil War (1946 – 1949), as well as under the subsequent post-war governments (1950-1967) and the military junta (1967-1974).
By focusing on political cinema, this study will first attempt to investigate how the interplay between film translation and film censorship played out in practice, and gauge the extent to which various agents involved in film production and distribution succumbed to state censorship or engaged in an act of self-censorship to bypass it and secure screening permission for imported foreign films. Contrary to previous research on the history and structure of film (translation) censorship, where censorship is mostly enacted in a top-down fashion driven by concrete governmental institutions, often seen as bodies acting in isolation, this project seeks to deliver a horizontal study of the audiovisual translation censorship process. It is informed by the central premise of New Censorship Theory, which envisages censorship as a multi-layered and productive, rather than merely repressive act (Post 1998, Burt 1994, Müller 2004, Bunn 2015).
Against this backdrop, this thesis conceptualises censorship as a collaborative process between a variety of agents to reach consensus on the acceptability of translational choices in films. An application of socio-narrative theory (Baker 2006, Harding 2012) is intended to reveal how the (counter-)narratives disseminated through selected foreign movies were mediated through the Greek subtitles, as well as the strategies that state and industry actors employed in order to frame and promote those films to the censorship Board or to the public. Finally, this study will showcase whether and how the means of imposition and purposes of audiovisual translation censorship evolved in the historical and geopolitical context under scrutiny, allowing for the identification of continuities, discontinuities or changes in the way censorship was being enacted in the field. By offering the first systematic investigation of early film translation practices in Greece, this project intends to widen the historical and geographical scope of the topic of film translation censorship in authoritarian contexts, and prove the diachronic interrelatedness between film censorship regulation and audiovisual translation practices, not only in dictatorial contexts, but also in postwar regimes deemed as democratic.