In What Tongue Do Gialli Speak? Dubbing, Language and the Affective Experience in Giallo

a video essay by Ashkan Forouhi



As was the common practice of the Italian film industry during the 60s and 70s, the Italian Gialli were shot with no sync sound, often with an international cast speaking in different languages. The film was then dubbed with voice actors into multiple languages, including Italian, to be marketed in target countries. Recent interest in the Giallo genre has resulted in many of these films to be restored and re-released for home video. For the first time, many of these re-releases give the English-speaking viewer the choice to experience the film with its “original” Italian soundtrack (and English subs), or with a “dubbed” English track. But how does this choice influence the experience of that viewer? As Lindsay Hallam explains in her analysis of Giallo, for the Giallo viewer, the narrative isn’t nearly as significant as the affective experience. As I will argue in this video essay, this combination, of the international production and the affective potential, uniquely positions the Giallo film to problematize the concept of the subtitled film as a “marker of value.”


Ashkan Forouhi is a filmmaker and scholar, and an MFA candidate at San Francisco State University. He has made several fiction and non-fiction films, and his research interests include Affect Theory, Language and Translatability, and Post-Colonial Cinema. His work has been published in the online journal Cinemedia.

Also in this issue:

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All the Colors of the Affect

The Experience of the Beautiful in Luca Guadagnino’s 2018 Suspiria

Aaron Kerner

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All the Colors of the Affect

All the Colors of Lady Avengers: Giallo, Pinku Eiga and “Taiwan Pulp Films”

Birdy Wei-ting Hung

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All the Colors of the Affect

Anime Affect: Neo-Giallo Aesthetics of Masaaki Yuasa

David Mai