Tuesday, February 22, 2011

One bleeping thing after another

This post will contain rude language, for which I apologise, but it is impossible not to use naughty words when quoting Alan Bennett. Somehow, the British National Treasure makes even the coarsest profanity sound charming.

I was sitting in my hotel room here in Nagpur, where England start their cricket World Cup journey today (in Nagpur, that is, not in my hotel room where there isn't room to spread the field), and flicking through the 100 channels on my TV discovered that Bennett's The History Boys was on.

The film had not been dubbed but for Indian audiences who might struggle with the Yorkshire accents there were subtitles in English. And I discovered that the subtitles did not always match what was being said. There was a bit of censorship going on, but only for those who could read English but not hear it.

So, "pissed off", though spoken aloud, was changed in the subtitles to "annoyed". "Tits" became "bosoms", "shit" became "crap", "wank" became "self stimulation" and, I particularly admired this, "how's your sex life" became "how is the physical aspect of things".

The F word was definitely a no-no and that was omitted altogether from the subtitles, which rather spoilt the humour of Rudge's line: "history is one fucking thing after another".

Most bizarrely, though, was the decision of the censor to alter one of Francis de la Tour's lines. When Hector tells his fellow teacher that his groping of the schoolboys was "more by way of benediction than gratification", De la Tour says: "That is utter balls."

The subtitles censor changed her line to "That is utter bollocks".

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