Monday, April 27, 2009

New Translation of Bazin

If you are reading this blog, it is likely that you already know there is a new translation of André Bazin's What is Cinema? (note that the google books link I provide here is for the old translation, the new translation can be found here). When I first heard this news, I thought it was interesting, considering Bazin is so foundational to film studies. And, because a translation can significantly alter what a text is doing, meaning a new translation of Bazin could possibly alter the way he is interpreted in English-speaking/reading circles a great deal (especially as new students come to read his works). I wasn't about to go out and buy it though, and especially not for 65.00 CAD! That was until I read Donato Totaro's review in Offscreen, "What is a Good Translation?" Bazin Revisited.

Totaro does a great job highlighting what he believes are the significant changes from the original translation by Hugh Gray to the new translation by Timothy Barnard. The couple of changes that really caught my attention, however, are that Barnard has actually revised the material he is including the book, and that he offers a lengthy 'Translator's Notes' section (61 pages!).

What is Cinema? is a collection of Bazin's works published posthumously - so, it isn't necessarilly shocking that Barnard chose to include a different sampling of Bazin's work. I am interested in the new articles he chose to include, however: 'On Jeane Painlevé,' ‘William Wyler, the Jansenist of Mise en Scène,’ and ‘Monsieur Hulot and Time.' Samples of each chapter are available on the publisher's website for the book. A brief reading of the available sample chapters shows that the new material Barnard provides does not significantly alter Bazin's views of cinema, but it might help deepen our understanding of how Bazin viewed 'neorealism.' Taking a look at 'Monsieur Hulot and Time,' for example, clearly shows that he is still concerned with how a particular director evokes reality in his films. I was dissapointed that this sample chapter ended so early, as Bazin says little about time in the short selection that is offered.

Why I'd really like to get my hands on a copy of this edition is to see Barnard's 'Translator's Notes.' Because Barnard spent, presumably, so much time and energy rethinking the way Bazin intended these essays to be understood, it will hopefully give the reader a more detailed look at the issues and complications involved in his translation. I'm hoping that this section might offer a great resource for the nuances of Bazin's thought - and dedicating 61 pages, about a seventh of the book, to these notes suggests that Barnard took care in creating them as well.

Alas, at 65.00 CAD, I think I'll have to wait for one of the local libraries to pick up this one!

1 comment:

  1. Maybe we could split it? I'm really curious to see what's been "deepened" in terms of neorealism.