Welcome to Est. 1999, the official blog of Abraham Translations. As is perhaps easy to surmise, the name of this blog reflects the year that Abraham Translations was founded.
It all began with the correction of a few texts that had been translated by another time-pressed translator. Within the year, translating had become my main source of income; now, it has long been the only way I put bacon on the table.
I am rather proud of many of the projects on which I have worked.
Est. 1999, basically, is a visual confirmation of past projects, a blowing of my own horn, a presentation of translator-related topics, and an occasional departure into other areas that I deem worthy of presenting. Enjoy.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Alain Clément

Coinciding with Alain Clément's expansive solo exhibition at Die Galerie, Frankfurt,  which ran June 11 - September 2015 and featured approximately 50 works executed between 1997 and 2014, the gallery published this 120-page, trilingual (German, English, and French) catalog with texts by the artist himself, Sylvain Amic, and Manfred Reuther (the former director of the Nolde Foundation). 
To simply quote Die Galerie's press release, which I also translated: "The French painter and sculptor Alain Clément (b. 1941) is influenced by the shimmering interplay of the light and color of the nature of his hometown of Nîmes, where, in addition to Paris and Berlin, he lives and works. Clément, the former director of the École des Beaux-Arts in Nîmes, strives to merge color and light into a single, indissoluble unity in his paintings, the subtle transparency and brilliance of which are both charismatic and captivating. To achieve a harmonization of forms in his work, Clément employs both strict, geometrical elements as well as broad, curved bands of color that seem to glide across the pictorial surface. As a young self-taught artist at the end of the 1960s, his work was characterized by the figurative, but after over five decades of seeing, learning, experience, and intellectual examination he has arrived at abstraction. In 1998, the artist finally transposed his painterly philosophy into spatial form and created his first sculpture. Since then, his largely monochrome, color-intensive steel reliefs and sculptures have stood in close dialog with his paintings and gouaches. [...].

Monday, 25 January 2016

Starfighter – A High-Tech Death / Starfighter – Mit Hightech in den Tod (2009)

(2009, documentary, HD, Dolby Stereo, 89 min/45 min., by Kai Christiansen, Lichtfilm GmbH, Cologne.)
"88 minutes of highly interesting German post-war history."

Abraham Translations translated a treatment to this documentary way back in 2008. To simply re-use the description found at Lichtfilm GmbH: "The documentary film Starfighter – A High-Tech Death tells the story of the procurement of the most modern combat aircraft of the time and the mysterious crash and death of over 100 pilots. In the 60s, the West German Air Force had over 900 Starfighter supersonic fighter-bomber aircrafts of the model 104G in service [...]. But the new technology proved tricky: one-third of the machines crashed, and every second crash proved fatal for the pilot. Kai Christiansen's film is the first film to deal with the Starfighter scandal, and it does so from a variety of perspectives: the viewpoint of those affected is presented, as is the desire of the politicians for both a new German aviation industry and the access to the atom bomb. Particular attention is given to the widows of the fallen pilots and their desperate struggle for the clarification of the causes behind the accidents and the hope for an end to the series of crashes. The film, however, also lets the pilots speak who enthusiastically continued to get into their machines everyday despite the numerous deaths. [...]
"It is a film about the largest and most expensive armament project in the history of the Federal Republic. The documentary offers insight behind a tangle of military secrets, political intrigue, corruption and deliberate misinformation. It is revealed how the catastrophe came to be and why the series of crashes could continue for almost 30 years. The film also tells little stories of the purchase of the first car and the first camera as well as of the young army's recruitment of professional soldiers. [...] It is a film about the difficult relationship between the German Federal Republic and its army, about the parallel worlds of the German Armed Forces and the civil society.
"Starfighter — A High-Tech Death is also a film full of anger, sadness and outrage at a military leadership that demands heavy losses even in times of peace and a political policy in which nobody takes responsibility. It is a film about the difficult new beginning of the Air Force in the shadow of World War II, about the close friendship with the United States, and about the thrill of supersonic flight."
For a different production house, I later translated the treatments to two other projects Kai Christiansen wrote and directed: Pioneers to Millionaires (2010) and 100 Years of Hollywood — The Carl Laemmle Story (2011).
Since the release of the documentary, the story behind the Starfighter has been converted into a TV drama Starfighter — Sie wollten den Himmel erobern [Starfighter — They Wanted to Conquer the Skies], which was aired in November 2015 and is available on DVD.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

One Flew over the Kremlin – Mathias Rust & the End of the Soviet Bloc / Der Kremlflieger – Mathias Rust & die Landung auf dem Roten Platz (2012)

(Documentary by Gabriele Denecke, TV, 45/ 52 min, HD. A Gebrueder Beetz Filmproduktion in coproduction with HR and Saarländischer Rundfunk, funded by the Hessische Filmförderung.)
In 2011, I translated the voiceover texts of this documentary about Mathias Rust's historic flight, a flight that was instrumental in ending the First Cold War because it gave Gorbachev justified grounds for dismissing much of the USSR's old hardliners, many of whom were the strongest opponents to his reforms.
One Flew over the Kremlin was broadcast for the first time on ARD in 2012, 25 years after Rust "breached the integrity of the Iron Curtain" and left "the reputation of the military in tatters".
To simply rewrite the description of the documentary found on the website of GlobalScreen, the film's distributor: "It is the height of the cold war. Reagan and Gorbachev meet in Reykjavik to discuss nuclear disarmament, but the talks between the superpowers stall. This worries 17-year-old Mathias Rust, who has been following the news from his parent's home in West Germany. He resolves to do something about it. Rust, a member of the local aerosports club who has only fifty flying lessons under his belt, decides to fly to Moscow and try to meet with Gorbachev. On the 28th of May, 1987, he departs from Helsinki and enters the heavily secured airspace on the other side of the Iron Curtain. The Soviet military immediately begins tracking him, missile units are put on alert, a Soviet MiG-23 fighter-interceptor pulls up beside him — and lets him continue flying unhindered. On 'Border Guards Day', the day honoring the brave men and women faithfully guarding Russia's borders, Rust not only breaches all national boundaries but makes it to Red Square. Having taxied and parked his plane, he chats with curious onlookers while waiting for his arrest. Taken into custody by the KGB, he is charged with illegal entry, violation of flight laws, and malicious hooliganism.*
One Flew over the Kremlin draws on interviews with witnesses, relatives, and former Soviet military members as well as archival material to document Rust's flight across the USSR, his arrival in Moscow, and the aftermath: the court case and sentence, his parent's visit in prison, his return to his home town, and the ensuing collapse of Soviet Russia."
* "Rust pleaded guilty to all but the last charge. There was, he argued, nothing malicious in his intentions." [Air&Space]

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Pioneers Turned Millionaires – Germans Who Changed American Industry / Vom Pionier zum Millionär

Five-episode documentary series, 5x43 min. and/or 5x52 min., by Ira Beetz, Christoph Weinert, Kai Christiansen & Achim Scheunert, Gebrüder Beetz Production. Made in cooperation with NDR/arte, and funded by Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig Holstein GmbH and nordmedia GmbH.
Way back in 2008 I translated the original treatment to this five-part documentary on "Germans who changed American Industry" — dare I mention that it originally started as a seven-part series? (One of the seven men to be looked at, Carl Laemmle, ended up getting a documentary all of his own — I also worked on that.) The series came out in 2010.
To simply quote the text at the Smithsonian website (the series has been broadcast on the Smithsonian Channel, among other places): "Meet five inventive, courageous, and hardworking entrepreneurs, who led the charge during one of the most exciting eras in economic history. Levi Strauss, Henry E. Steinway, William E. Boeing, John Jacob Astor and Henry J. Heinz changed the way the world eats, dresses, plays and travels. They each left Germany hoping to find a better life in America and they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Relive the tragedies and the triumphs that made them millions while leaving a major imprint on American culture."