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Apr 25, 2021

Dubbing Differences: Disney's Hercules

Welcome to a new series, Dubbing Differences, where I watch classic films in Portuguese and highlight their most interesting and funny differences in translation. It's fascinating to me how much effort it must take to find translated lines that get the idea across, that are spoken in more or less the same period of time on screen, that are voiced by actors who have reasonably similar vocal timbre to the originals, and to go the extra mile that fit the lip syncing of the character pretty close. And don't even get me started on translating entire songs that rhyme... Those deserve much more attention than these smaller articles.

Dubbing Differences:
Disney's Hercules

  • The Muse Thalia says “Múscules” instead of “Hunkules,” a play on the word “muscles.”
  • The Muses sing “Foi o que passou,” meaning “That’s what happened,” instead of “That’s the gospel truth.”
  • Hades: “I haven’t been this speechless since I choked on some ambrosia.”
  • Pain is named “Agony.”
  • Instead of “Mr. High-and-Mighty, Mr. Hey-You-Get-Off-My-Cloud,” Hades says “The Big Tasty of Olympus, the King of Greek Cocada.” The “King of Dark Cocada” is a saying in Brazil meaning someone who’s full of themself; in this case, he replaces dark (“preta”) with Greek (“grega”)—a fascinating instance of both wordplay and Greek reference.
  • All instances of “Oh my goodness,” or similar phrases are replaced with “Oh my gods.”
  • Market boy: “We already have nine, and we want to keep it an even number.” I think this was purely to keep the lipsyncing closer to the original.
  • Market boys: “Maybe we should call him Chatoles,” which basically plays off the word “annoying” instead of “jerk,” but it’s not even close to the word “Hercules,” so it’s a big stretch.
  • Urn salesman: “Keep that aberration away from here!”
  • Hercules, when he pulls Phil’s door off its hinges: “I didn't mean to do that” instead of “Sorry.”
  • The various “rules” that Phil teaches Hercules have their numbers changed, probably to fit with lipsyncing more, since they’re arbitrary anyway.
  • Phil, to Meg when they first meet: “And by the way, princess, I’m real too!”
  • Phil: “You can make mistakes in the minor decathlons, but this is for real!”
  • Hercules: “He lost, didn’t he?” instead of “I beat him, didn’t I?”
  • Meg’s nickname for Hercules is Big Boy instead of Wonder Boy.
  • Instead of “Herc,” people call Hercules “H” (pronounced ah-GAH) for short.
  • Pain: “Remember a few years ago, all the girls were named Joanna and the boys were all Marco?”
  • Guy in Thebes after Hercules says what they need is a hero: “Yeah? Know someone?
  • Instead of “You’re really choked up about this, aren’t you?” Meg says “You like this? I’m shocked.”
  • Instead of saying he has a fur wedgie, Phil says “Que bode,” which is an idiom that literally means “What a goat,” but figuratively means “How embarrassing.” This is a super clever joke given that he’s a goatlike satyr.
  • Pain, in child form: “Balacubaco! You’re strong, mister!”
  • All the Greek jokes (e.g., "chariot-chaser") and most idioms are replaced with non-idioms. For example, instead of saying "Somebody call IX-I-I!" Panic in child form just says "Somebody call the Theban emergency services!"
  • A lot of grunts and yells are taken out and not replaced, and the silence makes things awkward and undramatic in those scenes.
  • The songs are all very different, but here are some particularly interesting changes:
    • From “Slapped his face on every vase / on every vahse!” to “I decorated vases and they rocked! / I think that’s vulgar!
    • “Won’t Say I’m in Love” is instead “I Won’t Say It’s Passion
    • "A Star Is Born" is instead "Shined in the Sky"
  • Meg: “Everybody in Greece thinks you’re the greatest thing since they invented rice pilaf.”
  • Meg: “No trick knees? No ruptured discs?” replaced with “No spinal pains? No hernia?”
  • Phil, urging Hercules to get on Pegasus and move: “Mount! Mount mount mount!
  • Phil: “I thought you were going to be the best of champions, not the best of goofballs.” The wordplay of champ and chump is replaced with campiões and bobalhões.
  • The ice, tornado, and magma titans don’t speak. They just roar, or don’t say anything at all.

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