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2 entries from February 2010

Der Fledermausmann

Batman I made MTV Deutschland my German teacher, but I turn to the network Das Vierte (The Fourth) for conversation practice.  It shows many crummy old well-known movies dubbed into German, the gist of which I already get.  That spares lots of brainpower to concentrate on the finer points of language and culture. 

So it was with the original 1966 Batman, or Batman hält die Welt in Atem, which translates to Batman Holds the World in Suspense, or literally, Batman Makes The World Hold Its Breath.  German movie translators have a fetish for over-explanation.

You know what?  I like Peter Kirschberger's voice performance as Batman better than Adam West's.  Kirschberger nailed West's soft-spoken pompous philosophical lecturing tone and raised it to high art.  "Vorsicht, Robin!  Füßgänger!"

I must confess, it took me a little aback when Batman addressed Alfred as Sie, the German polite form of you.  But, of course, it makes cultural sense.  Employers and employees in 1966 would have spoken to each other formally, no matter how long, or how well, they knew each other.  Batman and Robin call each other du in private, but use Sie when in conference with Commissioner Gordon and Chief O'Hara.  I would be curious to hear from those who have seen the contemporary Batman movies in German—who gets sietzened and who gets dutzened?

Few of the names are translated, and just as well.   Yes, the Penguin becomes der Pinguin.   But the Riddler doesn't become der Rätseler, Catwoman doesn't become die Kätzinfrau, and the Joker doesn't become der Possenreißer (the Buffonery-Thriller), der Schalksnarr (The Rogue Fool), der Stimmungskanone (The Humour Cannon),  der Spaßvogel (the Funbird), or der Scherzkeks (Mr Bantercakes). 

Most importantly, Batman didn't become the Flying Mouse Man, as he would if we followed the letter of the Duden.  But the Boy Wonder did turn into der Wunderknabe—the Wonder Knave.