April 22nd, 2010
Abou Farman's True Dub is a lovely little tale of many happy hours spent watching (strictly unofficial) Farsi dubs of westerns in 1970s Iran:
Every time an actor turned his back, the dubbers, freed from any obligation to sync with the image, would throw in some slangy insults – corpse-washer, stinking vulture – and during gunfights there was always time for jahel philosophizing. Ducking bullets, John Wayne espies a drunk on a porch and mumbles, "Lucky bastard, so totally oblivious to the world." In Rio Bravo, Wayne addresses his partner Stumpy, an old lame prison guard, as Seedless Fig; and when he and Dean Martin start at a creaking sound, only to discover a stabled mule, there ensues between the sheriff and his sidekick a barrage of donkey-related swear words (in which Farsi is particularly rich). All this, with cheery disregard for the script and the authority of its creators.
According to Farman the practice died out in the latter part of the 1970s – not because of the Revolution, as you might have expected, but because of "the spread of corporate notions of ownership, stricter enforcement of copyright, a growing sense of loyalty to the original, and a swelling class of globally minded consumers who demanded nothing but 'VO' (version originale)."