Adaptation studies has recently turned an eye towards translation theory for valuable discussion on the role of movie makers as translators. Such discussion notes the difficulties inherent in adapting a medium such as a book, a play, or even a theme park ride into film. These difficulties have interesting parallels to the translation of one language into another. Translation theory, in fact, can shed important light on the adaptation process. Intrinsic to translation theory is the dichotomy between domesticating translation and foreignizing translation, the two major styles of translation. Translation scholar Lawrence Venuti, the author of these two terms, argues that while the former is an "ethnocentric reduction of the foreign text to receiving cultural values, bringing the author back home," the latter is "an ethnodeviant pressure on those values to register the linguistic and cultural differences of the foreign text, sending the reader abroad" (15). Venuti suggests that foreignizing translations, ones that maintain distinct cultural difference within the translated target text, are more desirable and ultimately commit less violence on the source text and language. This paper analyzes the 1940 film The Thief of Bagdad, a British remake of a 1924 Hollywood film by the same name, for its elements of foreignizing translation. Producer Alexander Korda, acting as a kind of translator, made this film during the height of the British national film movement. Supported by this movement, and inspired by his own personal vendetta against Hollywood, Korda took an American blockbuster and re-vised it with distinctly British thematic elements. Because his ultimate audience was an American one, however, I argue that his film took an American source text, The Thief of Bagdad (1924), and foreignized it, hoping, in the process, to establish British cinema as a major player in the international film world.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Wiest, Jessica Caroline Alder, "Alexander Korda and his "Foreignized Translation" of The Thief of Bagdad (1940)" (2010). Theses and Dissertations. 2545.
adaptation theory, Alexander Korda, translation studies, foreignizing translation, 1001 Arabian Nights, British national film movement, Hollywood