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movies1 SHE says HE says

Although I like watching films in their original language,
there are instances when dubbing is okay. Cinema is
about sound and vision; it is not a medium that
encourages reading and subtitles can be a
distraction from the onscreen action.

In the silent era producers reduced rambling
monologues to succinct dialogue intertitles – the
film was international because all that was needed
was to was change the intertitles to a different
language. And with sound film-makers do the
same thing – replace the original language so that
it can be understood in every market. You may
bemoan the lack of subtlety in delivery and nuance but
really that’s more down to the dubbing quality than your
ability to detect cultural nuances in another language.

Then there’s the prospect of encouraging the next
generation of cinephiles. Do you really expect a child to sit through Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea reading the subtitles
rather than listening to Frozen because you want to enjoy
the original Japanese soundtrack? The film was designed
to be enjoyed by five-year-olds, not adults.

Dubbing is not always inherently bad – after all, primitive
forms of dubbing were used on early sound films when the
actors and actresses from other cultures didn’t possess
sufficient language skills to make the film work but were
perfect for the role in all other respects.In Sergio Leone
westerns (the Man With No Name trilogy etc) about half the dialogue was dubbed because the actors spoke different languages. And that finest of animations, Jan Svankmajer’s
Alice, surely gains an added layer of surrealism precisely because the lip movements do not match the dialogue.

Whatever worthy gain can be obtained from watching a film subtitled is surely outweighed by introducing a wider and more diverse selection of world cinema to a general audience whose mainstream exposure to cinema is English-based content.
Surely that can’t be a bad thing?                      COLIN ODELL


It’s an oft repeated and somewhat inevitable retort when, having suggested a film that someone might like, they reply with one of the two questions that plague the cineaste: “It isn’t in black and
                                 white, is it?” or “It’s not subtitled, is it?”

In some ways Hollywood films seem so ubiquitous that anything else is simply labelled “world cinema” and therefore to be avoided. But there is still a need to champion the subtitled film – even as something that is just different to the slew of rom-coms and CGI rollercoasters.

                                 Keeping a film’s soundtrack intact is as






    important as keeping its image intact – it’s part of the essence
    of the film. Without the proper dialogue the nuances of the
    acting, the meaning in the intonation and the natural rhythm of  
     the language are lost. I wouldn’t expect a pair of Levis and a tee-shirt to be superimposed on Charlton Heston’s Ben Hur any more than I want to hear the whining voice that emanates from Franka Potente’s mouth in the dubbed version of Lola rennt (Run Lola Run). Given that most people do not have the time to learn Korean, French, Cantonese and Mandarin, Hindi, Urdu and Spanish subtitling offers the path of least damage.

Sure, the results are not always perfect but you get closer to the film-maker’s meaning when watching the film. Besides which, hearing the original language helps create a better sense of culture.

The sadistic part of me loves seeing people squirm in the cinema when they are not expecting subtitles – hearing a group of popcorn munching Friday nighters groaning at the opening of the Jackie Chan/Owen Wilson flick Shanghai Noon (the opening was in Mandarin) was worth the price of admission alone.

And how many times do you see a trailer for a subtitled film where no-one actually speaks? It happens quite often – we either hear the gravel-voiced man talking about epics or we see a number of quotes zooming from the screen intercut with
carefully edited action that allows only for the generic “Woooaaaarrrggghhhhhh!” of a battle cry or maybe a diegetic kissing sound. Are we selling world cinema under the pretence that it might be in English after all?                MICHELLE LE BLANC


important as keeping its image intact – it’s part of the essence of the film. Without the proper dialogue the nuances of the acting, the meaning in the intonation and the natural rhythm
of the language are lost. I wouldn’t expect a pair of Levis and a tee-shirt to be superimposed on Charlton Heston’s Ben Hur
 any more than I want to hear the whining voice that emanates
 from Franka Potente’s mouth in the dubbed version of Lola   rennt (Run Lola Run). Given that most of us don’t have the
  time to learn Korean, French, Cantonese and Mandarin,
  Urdu, Hindi and Spanish subtitling offers the path of least
  damage. Sure, the results are not always perfect but you get
  closer to the film-maker’s meaning when watching the film.
  Besides which, hearing the original language helps create a
   better sense of culture.  

  The sadistic part of me loves seeing people squirm in the
   cinema when they are not expecting subtitles And how many
   times do you see a trailer for a subtitled film where no-one
    actually speaks? It happens quite often – we either hear the
    gravel-voiced man talking about epics or we see a number
    of quotes zooming from the screen intercut with carefully-
    edited action that allows only for the generic “Woooarghhh!”
     of a battle cry or maybe a diegetic kissing sound. Are we
     selling world cinema under the pretence that it might be in
     English after all?                        MICHELLE LE BLANC


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