Sunday, February 14, 2016

Why so many subtitles instead of dubbing?

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Larry Snoke (city unknown) writes:

Marilyn: Why do so many movie-makers use subtitles instead of dubbing now? I thought you were supposed to watch a movie and read a book. Subtitles can ruin a movie. It’s difficult to watch and read at the same time, and when the type is the same color as the background, it’s even harder. It seems like movie-makers are going backward instead of forward: Even back in the sixties, the Godzilla movies were dubbed in English.

Marilyn responds:

I know what you mean, but the tide has turned strongly against screening dubbed foreign-language films in U.S. movie houses. Subtitles—bad as they are—are considered preferable for any movie that involves real acting and doesn’t rely on spectacle, animation, special effects, etc., in which cases dubbing can work quite well. Try watching a few scenes of a good English-language movie, preferably with actors you know and like, and then watch those same scenes dubbed into another language by a voice artist. (This feature can be found on DVDs.) You’ll see how the dubbing typically destroys the acting, often rendering it ludicrous, even when performed by a top-flight professional. The constraints for dubbing make it a very difficult task. Still, dubbing big-budget American films into other languages for foreign markets is popular.

Marilyn vos Savant
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