When we watch a film today we also hear a film: we hear the actors’ voices, the sound of the action and special effects. But this wasn’t always the case. For roughly the first years thirty years of its existence, audiences watching a film would have done so without hearing the characters speak or the sounds of the setting. This all changed at the end of the 1920s with the transition from silent cinema to ‘talkies’ or films as we know them today. But this transition was far from straightforward and filmmakers and studios experimented with several different ways of adding sound to film.
Carla Mereu takes us through this ‘talking revolution’ and shows the opportunities and difficulties filmmakers and studio bosses faced with the introduction of sound, and how the decisions taken over eighty years ago continue to affect how we watch films today.
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About the Author
Carla Mereu has recently completed her PhD in Italian Studies at the University of Reading with a thesis entitled “The Dub Debate: Film Censorship and State Intervention in the Translation of Foreign Cinema in Italy (1923-1963)”.
She has taught courses on Translation and Film Studies at the University of Reading and at London South Bank University while publishing her academic research and teaching Italian as a foreign language. Her current research interests include film translation history, theory and practice, censorship, film history, distribution and reception, popular culture, Italian American cinema and literature.
During the last ten years Carla has also trained and worked as a translator specialising in subtitling, legal and literary translation. Before moving to the UK, she took her master degree at the Faculty of Modern Languages of the University of Cagliari (Italy) and worked as a language instructor for the University Language Centre.