Translating the ‘Still’ and the ‘Silent’: Stephen Poliakoff’s Shooting the Past


  • Subhash Jaireth University of Canberra



translation, cinematic image, photographic image


In this montage-essay I want to explore the co-being of two forms of visuality in contemporary culture: the photographic and the cinematographic. But this is not my main concern. The more important thing for me is to unravel the notion of translation as movement between them. For this purpose, I’ll focus on Stephen Poliakoff’s movie Shooting the Past[1]. I’ll also show that a similar translation/movement takes place in various sections of the text that makes this essay. I will examine translation, as an act/event, at three different but inter-related levels: at the level of the film, that is, within the cinematic narrative; at the level of this essay, that is, in the process of writing and reading this essay; and at the most general level, the level of signification.

[1] British playwright and film director Stephen Poliakoff has so often used photographic images in his well-known television serials and films that it is described as a trademark of his style. They appear in films such as, The Tribe (1998), Perfect Strangers (2001), The Lost Prince (2003). For a comprehensive study of his work see, Nelson, Robin. Stephen Poliakoff on Stage and Screen, (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, Methuen Drama imprint, 2011).


Author Biography

Subhash Jaireth, University of Canberra

Subhash Jaireth was born in Punjab, India. Between 1969 and 1978 he spent nine years in Russia studying geology and Russian literature. In 1986 he migrated to Australia. He has published poetry in Hindi, English and Russian. His published works include Yashodhara: Six Seasons Without You (Wild Peony, 2003), Unfinished Poems for Your Violin (Penguin Australia, 1996), Golee Lagne Se Pahle (Before the Bullet Hit Me) (Vani Prakashan, 1994), To Silence: Three Autobiographies (Puncher& Wattmann, 2011), After Love (Transit Lounge, 2012), Moments (Puncher & Wattmann, 2014) and Incantations (Recent Work Press, 2016). A Catalan translation of the novel After Love was published in October 2018 in Valencia. He has also published English translations of Russian, Japanese and Persian poetry, and has translated poems of Indigenous Australian poets into Hindi.