Lost in translation (no really!)

TV Crime Series Crossing Borders

Presenters: Jean Anderson and Carolina Miranda

The recent flourishing of ‘Scandinoir’ television crime series, and their English-language remakes (eg. The Killing, The Bridge, Wallander) will be familiar to many people. Here a form of localisation is at work, with elements other than language requiring, or undergoing, transformation. Not all such ‘translations’ are between languages, of course, as the examples of Prime Suspect or Broadchurch (both copied to the US from the UK) amply demonstrate. In such cases, it is the localisation of setting and content that is to the fore, and they might more properly be referred to as ‘translocations’. These translocations are more profoundly different than it might seem at first: in fact, Sue Turnbull has asked, ‘Is it possible to have an American-style crime drama produced in Britain? Or a British-style crime drama produced in the United States?’[1]
We will take a partly light-hearted look at two recent examples of less than successful transfer: the American Mysteries of Laura (2014) which is derived from a long-running Spanish series, Los misterios de Laura (2009-), and Cellule identité (France, 2008), closely based on the American CSI (2000-) and/or NCIS (2003-) series. Discussion will focus on determining which elements successfully transfer/translate and which do not, and possible reasons for this, focusing mainly on conflicting expectations related to the genre in different cultures.
[1] The TV Crime Drama. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014, p. 7.

Jean Anderson & Carolina Miranda About the Presenters
Jean Anderson is Associate Professor and Programme Director for French at Victoria University of Wellington. Her research interests are in late nineteenth-century and contemporary women’s writing, Francophone writing (Tahiti, Mauritius, Belgium), literary translation and crime fiction. She is the co-editor of The Foreign in International Crime Fiction: Transcultural Representations (2012).

Carolina Miranda lectures at Victoria University, Wellington. Her research interests include translation and twentieth-century Latin American literature. She has published on Roberto Arlt’s theatre and narrative work and on Spanish, New Zealand and Argentine crime fiction. She has recently published The Foreign in International Crime Fiction (2012), co-edited with Jean Anderson and Barbara Pezzotti. She is an editorial board member of The Australian Journal of Crime Fiction.