Edmundo Santos: The Translation and Dubbing Revolution

Edmundo Santos: The Translation and Dubbing Revolution
Translation has played a vital role in ensuring films are accessible to wide audiences.

Who doesn’t love animation! Many people who enjoy animation notice that dubbing for these kinds of movies differs quite a lot from the original, aiming obviously to achieve the necessary magic that’s so important to attract both children and adults.

Generally, it seems to go unnoticed that the way dubbing is done today is because of Director and dubbing actor, Edmundo Santos, because it was he who founded the practices for the dubbing industry today.

The Story of Edmundo Santos

Edmundo was a dancer by profession and hailed from Mexico: it was due to his comedic talent that he arrived on the stages of Broadway. Back in the 1940s Edmundo had his own radio program in Tijuana, Mexico. He believed the Spanish Versions of Disney films lacked musicality and rhythm, and that the lyrics were forced. Then the Disney studios in Burbank contacted him, and he was received by Walt Disney himself. He was asked to adapt Blue Star for the Pinocchio movie. At that time the responsibility for dubbing for the Spanish speaking market for movies like Dumbo and Bambi was with Sono Film, the Argentine studio based in Buenos Aires. At the same time, in 1943, Edmundo Santos was hired by Walt Disney as an associate in Hello Friends and in the following year for The Three Caballeros.

At that time Edmundo was given the job of dubbing Disney films in its Los Angeles studios. This was an interesting period, marked by the variety of actors’ accents, so when dubbing they also imitated the different accents in the original work. It was later on that Edmundo chose to use a standard accent in all his dubbing work – a neutral accent; meaning an intelligible accent for all Spanish speakers, devoid of localisms.

In the following years Edmundo worked with many dubbing artists and founded various recording studios where he worked on dubbing movies like Lady and the Tramp (in 1955), Sleeping Beauty (in 1959) and 101 Dalmatians (in 1961).

Movies Re-Dubbed

In 1962, films that were previously dubbed in Argentina, but didn’t adhere to this concept of neutrality, were re-dubbed. These movies included Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Song of the South. We understand that Pinocchio was ready to be re-dubbed and the casting was ready, but for some reason this fell through and we’re still left with the Argentine version.

His Work Goes On

The last film undertaken by Walt Disney, prior to his death, was The Jungle Book (in 1967), but Edmundo still continued on with the Spanish versions of these films. His last directed dubbing was for The Rescuers Down Under, but he missed the premiere due to his untimely death in 1977. Following Edmundo’s death his work was continued by his brother-in-law, Francisco Colmenero, who was also a dubbing artist. Both he and his brother, Jorge Colmenero, carried on with Disney’s dubbing work, right up to Mulan in 1998. In 1991 and starting with Beauty and the Beast, Disney classics were being dubbed in Spain; then in 1996 they were also being dubbed into Catalan.

Edmundo Santos – The Perfectionist!

Edmundo Santos was a perfectionist director, always seeking naturalness in his interpretations: he stood above the rest due to his careful adaptation of the songs and lyrics and his precise choice of casting. All his versions are works of art, complete with stellar voices, marking the golden age of Mexican dubbing.

Translation has played a vital role in ensuring films are accessible to wide audiences. In the field of translation studies the main area of study concerns describing and explain the translation process, and establishing workable criteria.