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Beru's voice

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 (Edited)

Inspired by a text fact in JD's "Star Wars Begins" - which originally came from Wookiepedia - I've been sifting through conflicting information attempting to come up with a definitive answer to the Beru voice question.

We know, from reliable sources, the following:

  • During post-production, sound mixer Derek Ball travelled to Shelagh Fraser's house and recorded additional dialogue (from Rinzler's "Making of..." book)
  • Beru's dialogue on the initial Dolby Stereo and Dolby 6-track mixes sounds different to the dialogue heard on the later mono mix
  • All home video releases return to the original dialogue as heard in the Dolby mixes


We also know that Beru's voice is dubbed - which is nothing unusual, as the majority of dialogue in conventional film production is dubbed. Unless the shoot takes place on a sound stage, on-set audio (production sound) is often unusable. The process of re-recording the original dialogue after filming, to obtain a cleaner dialogue track, is called Automated Dialogue Replacement (ADR, see Wikipedia). ADR is not necessarily performed in a studio, it can be done using mobile equipment (at Fraser's house for example).

Some have reported that the one of the variations is actually a different actress. I'm not convinced; to me, both versions sound like the same voice, just two different takes.

Others have said that neither version is Fraser's real voice, because Lucas felt that her voice was too low or her accent too thick. Does anyone have a reliable source for this? If the intention was to use a different actress, why go to the trouble of carrying out an ADR session at Fraser's house?

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 (Edited)

This is a good topic for a thread.

My opinion is that both are dubs. My initial instinct is that neither is her real voice, but maybe it is.

My reason is this: she is the only actress dubbed in her scenes. Contrary to what you wrote, production audio is not 100% useless. Back in the 70s there was very little dubbing, and you used as much on-set as you could. This is why older films sound "rougher" than today, because today much of the dialogue--whether in studio or on location--is dubbed.

Very little of the Tunisian dialogue is ADR'd from what I can tell. However, a lot of the studio dialogue is. The entire control room conversation between Han and Luke ("she's rich...") is almost 100% dubbed, probably because the stormtrooper costumes clattered so much.

In the case of Beru, all the scenes she is in have production audio for at least most of the scenes. Owen is on-set recordings. Luke is on-set recordings. But Beru is dubbed. Always. There is absolutely no reason why her closeups at the dinner conversation should be dubbed. So that tells me that the only logical answer was to give her a different voice. Probably because she had an accent and it seemed out of place since the rest of the family is American sounding.

It's interesting that the book says she recorded ADR though. Maybe the voice(s) is actually two ADR recordings of her putting on an American accent over her original recording. I agree that the mono is the same actress as the stereo--maybe she was re-recorded in mono because the original stereo mix was so obviously dubbed (although you can still tell in the mono). Or, maybe they initially tried to have her dub herself for the same reason, but realising it didn't work or sound right got a different actress for the final mix.

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Has Shelagh Fraser been in any other films? Could we track down what she really sounds like and do a comparison?

You know of the rebellion against the Empire?

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Here's the blurb from the 'Star Wars Aficionado - Making of SW 2004/5 & 2007 update' segment on the subject: (nothing definitive)

April (EXACT DATES UNKNOWN)

LARS HOMESTEAD - KITCHEN INTERIOR

One day was spent filming the scene of Shelagh Fraser as Beru talking to Own in their Kitchen, and an additional scene, later cut from the final theatrical cut, of Beru using a milk dispenser.  Fraser's voice would be dubbed for the film's release by an unknown actress (who would then be re-dubbed herself, for unknown reasons, for the STAR WARS TV version in 1982, before having her voice returned for the 1997 SPECIAL EDITION re-release).

http://www.starwarsaficionado.com/backissuepdfcatalog.html

http://starwarsaficionado.blogspot.com/

 

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Star Wars Insider 32 has an interview with Shelagh Fraser: 'Strange Beru': (again nothing concrete, but talks about her voice)

pg. 13:

You'd never know from talking to Shelagh Fraser that she played the reserved, nurturing Beru Lars, Luke Skywalker's aunt in the original Star Wars.  First, there's the thick British accent, which the Irish-born Fraser (whose first name is pronounced Sheila) altered for the role.  But more striking is the talented and talkative acress' gift of gab, which stands in marked contrast to Beru's quiet farmwife simplicity.

 

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I was gonna ask if she was British, but I think none answered my question.  I'm pretty sure a few British voices in the original were dubbed by American actors. The bartender IIRC had a pretty thick Cockney accent in one of the trailers. And then there's David Prowse...

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 (Edited)

none said:

Here's the blurb from the 'Star Wars Aficionado - Making of SW 2004/5 & 2007 update' segment on the subject: (nothing definitive)

April (EXACT DATES UNKNOWN)

LARS HOMESTEAD - KITCHEN INTERIOR

One day was spent filming the scene of Shelagh Fraser as Beru talking to Own in their Kitchen, and an additional scene, later cut from the final theatrical cut, of Beru using a milk dispenser.  Fraser's voice would be dubbed for the film's release by an unknown actress (who would then be re-dubbed herself, for unknown reasons, for the STAR WARS TV version in 1982, before having her voice returned for the 1997 SPECIAL EDITION re-release).

http://www.starwarsaficionado.com/backissuepdfcatalog.html

http://starwarsaficionado.blogspot.com/

 

redubbed for the 1982 TV version? Oh, how wrong that article is. The TV version used the mono mix so i wouldn't trust that article,

She appeared in an episode of The Professionals in the 1970's, which was on TV sometime last year. I did have it on my SKY= box, but accidental deleted it. She didn't have a strong accent in it but more of a generic "film" British accent and , from what i can remember, sounded very similar to the voice used in the stereo mix.  If the episode airs again i'll do some proper comparisons

 

EDIT: i've found an episode she was in online. Here's the clip:

http://hotfile.com/dl/103495529/113acb6/beru.avi.html

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That's interesting.  She even says "I think so" in the clip.  Sounds like Beru to me.

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Her voice in that clip does sound like the stereo version of Beru's voice, except with English accent.  It's possible that the mono version could be her also, and just a different dub, but I can never really make up my mind what to think about that.

In the special edition (both '97 and '04 mixes), there is a strange audio dropout in the middle of her line "Luke's just not a farmer, Owen.  He has too much of his father in him."  The sound cuts out briefly just before the word 'father', even though it is the same take as in the older stereo mixes.  I don't know whether this was due to a problem with the source recording, or if it was a cheap and clumsy attempt to accent the word 'father' for some reason; regardless, it sounds rather stupid and is an obvious error.  The dropout is clearly visible in the waveform in addition to be being audible.

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 (Edited)

Here's what I think happened -  nothing concrete, but a "best fit" for both the sourced facts and unsourced rumours.

Shelagh Fraser's lines were recorded on-set, along with Phil Brown and Mark Hamill.

During post-production, Lucas decided he wasn't happy with her performance (possibly due to her accent). So sound mixer Derek Ball was sent to Fraser's house to record replacement dialogue, presumably with her putting on an American accent for the recording.

During this ADR session, several takes were recorded. One take was used on the initial Dolby Stereo and Dolby 6-track sound mixes.

Then to quote from here:

After completing the multi-channel versions, the soundtrack crew created another English-language mix, a monaural mix, to be included on prints destined for theatres not equipped with a stereophonic sound system and for versions prepared for ancillary markets.

...

With each subsequent mix, the filmmakers seized opportunities to revise and enhance selected portions of the soundtrack where they had felt rushed or shortchanged creatively, wished different choices had been made for a given scene, or simply selected a different take of a given line of dialogue. Sound designer Ben Burtt recalls: "Because we were always trying to make the film better and better and fix things that were not right, there was some 'sweetening' done; things like different Stormtrooper or C-3PO lines, additional sound effects, or some different ADR."

So the difference in the mono mix is simply because it uses a different take from the ADR session.

Although the mono mix was considered definitive at the time, it lost favour due to the rise in popularity of Dolby Surround on home video. Since early home video releases had the 35mm Dolby Stereo mix, which was also used as the base for the 1985 remix, and the 1993 remix was based on the 70mm 6-track, the alternative Beru voice became a rarity.

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