“Traduttore/tradittore” ?

About Good Omens (TV series)
Recently someone pointed out on twitter about the dubbing adaptation in Brasil for the Amazon series “Good Omens”, that adds interesting points in the dialogue. Please note that I do not want to judge a fellow translators’ work, I am sure they had their reasons and that everything was approved, what I am going to talk about here is my opinion about it, as I always have the saying “traddutore, tradittore” in mind, that bothers me a lot as a translator: how far can we go when adapting and still be true to the original text? Ok, the Italian saying mentions that translators are traitors, but are we? We are all writers at heart, I believe. I know I am, so the temptation to make the text “better” (in ones’ point of view) is always there.

But my idea here is to analyse a very specific point, that is in the TV series Good Omens, based on the book by Terry Pratchet and Neil Gaiman, the term “angel” used by the character Crowley to address the character Aziraphale (an actual angel) sounds like a cool way to address someone using their qualification instead of their name, and, in this particular case has a double take, as Crowley is “cool” but also completely smitten by the angel Aziraphale, so, he thinks he can safely calls him angel without compromising his coolness or declaring his love. In the dubbed Portuguese version in Brasil, he says “my angel” (meu anjo), and in my opinion that simply wipes away all the coolness and plain smacks Aziraphale in the face with endearment, washing away the whole point of their dynamic. It would be the same in English, I think. If the intention was the plain direct and intimate address, the script would have had “my angel” and not “angel”. In his very naive way, he is trying to be neutral, but all the while very aware about “angel” being a loving way to address someone, but “in disguise”. (yes, angels and demons are very naive in the plot and we love it).

My point is, although it is interesting to see this more open loving treatment between them in Portuguese, the English version leaves it all for the excellent acting on the screen with postures, attitudes and very, very longing looks, no direct words. And that is actually their main problem: they don’t say it. Also, in the infamous last scene Aziraphale, in Portuguese, adds a “querido” (dear) when saying that “nothing lasts forever” that is gut wrenching and although it is there in Michael Sheen’s eyes and posture, it is not in the text and I don’t know how I feel about the addition as it also overexposes the feelings that are originally hidden in between the lines.

Ok, this was meant to be a comment about translation, intention and betrayal, but as a fan of the book and TV series I don’t think I was able to do it. Hope you enjoy my ramblings, anyway.

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