Elsa Fábregas: the art of dubbing

‘As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again!’, swears Scarlett O’Hara at the end of the movie Gone With The Wind (1939), one of the most famous quotes of film history. At that time in Spain every motion picture was dubbed, so the Spanish public never heard Vivien Leigh’s voice making this oath. But it was made unforgettable in their language  by Elsa Fábregas (1921-2008), a dubbing artist who was at the beginning of a long and successful career. Advocates as well as opponents of revoicing recognized her big talent which made her one of the most important artists of Spain.

Foto: Joan Sànchez

Elsa made it to the top, because she mastered every single technique and gained expertise of the art of dubbing. The first principles were revealed to her by her aunt Marta Fábregas who in the 1930s already was a great and well-known dubbing artist in France but had moved to Barcelona to look after her orphaned niece. Marta continued her work in Catalonia’s capital and took 13-year old Elsa with her to the studio of ‘La Voz de España’, one of the first and most significant dubbing studios in Spain where she was a successfull director. Soon after this introduction Elsa played her first rôle; after that her dedication to her work, discipline and experience made her into a great dubbing artist who performed in 819 films during her 73 years of active life.

During her long career she gave her voice to a long list of actresses who displayed different speech characteristics, speed was one of them. This could present some difficulties: at times Elsa was close to despair. For example when working on Glenda Jackson who to her seemed to talk like a machine gun, a complex task as the dubbing voice somehow has to coincide with the movement of the actress’ lips.

Moreover each character, rôle and scene requires another way of speaking. Apart from the ability to adapt oneself to these particulars, dubbing also means you should be able to learn the text by heart in order to give the dialogues its original brillance and sincerety. A great sense of hearing and a feeling for the music of words is needed. With just saying ‘hello’ you can convey an infinite number of emotions (cheerful, annoyed, gruff, absent-minded). Not mentioning the physical aspects of the work, like controling the breathing process and using all the vocals when laughing.

Censorship and anecdotes

‘Watermelon Juice’ in the Berlinale

During the Internationale Filmfestspiele in Berlin photographer and film maker Irene Moray (Barcelona, 1992) has shown her second short film Suc de síndria (Watermelon Juice) taking part in its Shorts Competition. At the end of the festival the jury granted it a nomination for the European Film Awards 2019 which will be held on December 7 in the  German’s capital.

The film is an optimistic story about survival after sexual abuse, a problem that in Irene’s opinion is ‘scandalously common’ and not discussed enough. ‘These wounds are often represented as a trauma, but there are no models available that talk of healing’,  the director complains. Therefore she decided to make a film full of hope in which the main character rises above this impactful event through love.

In this film, produced by Distinto Films, Irene Moray tells the story of Bàrbara (Elena Martín) and Pol (Max Grosse) who meet during their holidays. In the middle of nature (like the reservoir of Baells, Berguedà) and surrounded by their friends, they find a quiet place in which they can savour their intimacy. With his help Bàrbara slowly cures old wounds inflicted during a period of sexual abuse. In this way she regains confidence and once more learns to enjoy her sexuality.

foto-3455601_1_630x630Irene explains that usually ‘we do not have models or references that talk of healing, but loving yourself, an emotional gesture, compassion, respect, all these things will enable you to survive. And if the other person reciprocates this feeling, he or she can stand by you in the proces’.


Rising star: Carla Simón, movie director

Carla Simón, director of  ‘Summer 1993’. Photo: Mariona Batllés

Young film director Carla Simón (Barcelona, 1986) was completely overwhelmed by the unanimous critical acclaim, the public’s enthusiastic reactions and the many festival prizes for Summer 1993 (original title: Estiu 1993), her first long motion picture.

Hailed as one of the big revelations of the year, she was praised for her great respect for emotions, the way she featured landscape as the central figure and her coaching of the actors to show just enough to become unforgettable. The movie is about the experiences of six-year-old Frida (Laia Artigas) who, after her mother’s death, is sent to her uncle’s family to live with them in the countryside, where she finds it hard to forget her mother and adapt to her new life.

Carla Simón directing Laia Artigas

How it all began

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