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Margareth Mitchell


Sidney Howard


Victor Fleming


CDC (1949)/CVD (1977)




FRANCO SCHIRATO (1949)/Mario Maldesi (1977)


Clark Gable:


Vivien Leigh:


Leslie Howard:


Oliva de Havilland:


Hattie McDaniel:


Butterfly McQueen:


Thomas Mitchell:


Barbara O'Neil:



Gone with the wind
USA 1939

It is one of the most beloved, celebrated and shown films ever in the history of cinema. It is an icon, its characters are symbols and its scenes are part of everyone’s general culture.
I’m talking about “Gone with the wind”, the Hollywood colossal taken from the novel by Margaret Mitchell, filmed in 1939, that arrived in Italy only ten years after.
The story is well known: at the beginning of the War of Secession, the pretty and spoilt Scarlett O’Hara lives her life convinced that she is in love with Ashley Wilkes, who is getting married to Melanie. She thinks she will love him for the rest of her life. In the meanwhile she marries three times. Her last husband is Rhett Butler. Their marriage is haunted by her love for Ashley. When Melanie dies and Ashley is free again, Scarlett realizes that he means nothing to her, that she made a blunder and that the real love of her life is her husband. She tells Rhett, but he doesn’t believe her, it’s too late.

It’s difficult to talk about such a famous film, since it seems that everything has already been said; but we must do it, especially talking about dubbing: the fame of this film, its time, its voices that have become historic, make Gone with the wind a model for this wonderful art.
The first impression one get’s listening to the dubbed dialogues is that the actors are talking like books. There are absolutely no varieties in the dialogues: there is no trace of words from dialect, ways of speaking that are not in line with a rather controlled style. The language used in the film is a monolithic Italian, the same both for young characters and old ones, rich and poor, parents and children, husband and wife, cousins. It is the language used in dubbed films in the Fourties and Fifties, fluid, correct, although sometimes a bit too fake.
This feeling becomes even stronger if one compares the dubbed dialogues with the original ones. The American version gives space to familiar or more colloquial expressions.
As an example, let’s take a look at the dialogue between Scarlett and Ashley in the Wilkes’ library: they are finally alone, face to face and Scarlett can confess her love to him.
In the original version the dialogue is:

Ashley: «Well… isn’t it enough that you gathered every other men’s heart today? You’ve always had mine. You cut your teeth on it».
Scarlett: «Don’t tease me now. Have I your heart, my darling? I love you, I love you».

Scarlett: «I know I love you, and I want to be your wife! You don’t love Melanie! »
Ashley: «She’s like me, Scarlett. She’s part of my blood, and we understand each other».

The lines in italics are important to understand the language used; the expression «you cut your teeth on it» is similar to the English «to cut one’s teeth», that in Italian would be «mettere i denti» referring to children teething; in this sense, the expression means that Ashley’s heart has belonged to Scarlett ever since she was a child, in fact he says that she teethed on his heart «ti sono cresciuti i denti [sul mio cuore] ». She doesn’t understand and answers back saying «don’t tease me now», «non prenderti gioco di me». Shortly after, Ashley tries to explain to Scarlett why he chose to marry Melanie and says: «She’s like me, Scarlett. She’s part of my blood», «lei è come me, Rossella, è parte del mio sangue», not only referring to the fact that they are relatives (Ashley and Melanie are cousins), but also to the affinity both in their feelings and way of seeing life. The translation really tones down this line, using very neutral expressions:

Ashley: «Dunque non vi bastano tutti i cuori che avete conquistato oggi? Sapete che il mio vi appartiene già».
Rossella: «Oh, non burlatemi. È vero che mi amate Ashley, io vi amo, vi amo!»

Rossella: «So che vi amo e che voglio essere vostra moglie! Voi non amate Melania».
Ashley: «C’è tra lei e me una comprensione infinita, Rossella».

There is no reference to teeth, blood, even the «non prenderti gioco di me» is replaced by a rather formal and unusual «non burlatemi». They have known each other for a long time, they confess their love, yet everything is syntactically perfect.
They never stop talking to each other with the polite form “voi”. In the English version this is less relevant since there is no distinction between the polite form and familiar form; in Italian there is and the use of “voi” (typical in literature) creates a formal atmosphere between the two. Scarlett and Rhett only stop using the polite form after they get married, while Scarlett and Ashley will never stop, not even with the pain caused by Melanie’s death.

On the whole, however, the adaptation of the dialogues is very accurate; where expressions are not radically changed as in the examples above, the translation is faithful to the original; attention is also paid to the pauses and lip movements of the characters, actually sometimes the choice was to maintain lip-sinch and change the line. Aunt Pittypat’s expression: «oh, dear, Yankees in Georgia» is translated with «addio! I Nordisti in Georgia!», instead of literally with «oh cara» or «oh cielo». Similarly, every time Scarlett huffs «I hate her» referring to Melanie, the translation is «la detesto» rather than «la odio» (I detest her rather than I hate her), using a verb with an “e” like in the original.

Another aspect that makes this film even more interesting as regards dubbing is the fact that it was re-dubbed in 1977 by Roberto de Leonardis for CVD.
Forgetting about the big question whether to re-dub films or not for a moment, those who were lucky enough to listen to this version too, realized from the very first lines how much the language was made less old, less formal and closer to audiences.
The “modernisation” of the dialogues was, however, made by moving backwards instead of forward: expressions that were already present in the original version of the film, that the 1949 edition had eliminated, were adapted.
As an example, let’s take a look at the same dialogue between Scarlett and Ashley in the library; their lines are definitely more intense:

Ashley: «Beh, l’aver conquistato oggi il cuore di ogni altro uomo non ti basta? Hai sempre avuto il mio; ti ci sei svezzata».
Rossella: «Oh, non prendermi in giro. Ho davvero il tuo cuore mio adorato? Io ti amo, ti amo ti amo…»

Rossella: «So solo che ti amo e che voglio essere tua moglie! Tu non ami Melania».
Ashley: «Lei è come me Rossella; è parte del mio sangue, ci comprendiamo a vicenda».

And here we have the expression «ti ci sei svezzata» (you weaned off my heart) that replaces «you cut your teeth on it» from the original version; and finally, Scarlett can say «non prendermi in giro» (don’t tease me) instead of the unusual «non burlatemi».
The characters use “tu” and “lei” (polite form that is more modern than “voi”), according to the relations; the language in general is easier yet not superficial. There are a good deal of interjections: “oh”, “beh”, “eh?”, all to bring the language of the dubbing closer to spoken language. Over the thirty years that went between the two versions, Italian society changed and so did dubbing.

And the voices. Voices are so important for a successful dubbing!
There is a big difference between the memorable voices of 1949 and those of 1977, but they all manage to precisely suit their characters: Emilio Cigoli is perfect for Clark Gable, but Luigi Vannucchi adds that pinch of sorrow that was missing and gives a new depth to the character; Lydia Simoneschi does not make us regret Vivien Leigh’s voice, using her same spoilt and impatient tones, but Ada Maria Serra is able to make Scarlett grow, moving on from being a spoilt girl to becoming familiar with the harshness of war to then become a woman.

This re-dubbing must not be intended as an imitation of the first version; if we were to consider it like this, it would lose its strength and end up to be an exhumation of the language and atmosphere that belong to the past (which is impossible) and that draw their charm from the past.
Alberto Castellano is right: «un attore e un film ridoppiato ci restituiscono un altro attore e un altro film» (an actor and a film that are dubbed again give us another actor and another film). But this is how we should see the re-dubbed version of Gone with the wind, as a brand new creation that gives the characters and stories the chance to live a “second life”;
Many people say that it would be better to see films in their original version. This is quite obvious for all works, but this is not an excuse to deny the value of translation. It is not against dubbing that we must fight, but against bad dubbing, against serial dubbing, quick dubbing, with the same rhythm of a production line; we must fight against dubbing that flattens creativity and resets to zero any chance to know a culture and a world we are not familiar with even just thanks to voices.


[original review in Italian by Bianca Rabbiosi]


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