Wednesday, 17 March 2010

A Less Dubbing Life

Momentum and the UK Film Council teamed up for the release of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO to conduct a little experiment: release the film in a dubbed version in four theaters and see what the response was.

Dubbing in general is not done in this country, bar animated releases like the recent PONYO, which has plenty of reasons to be: animation is dubbed anyway even in its original version, and the Miyazaki productions always have a top-notch cast of acclaimed actors doing the voices. But live action feature films have always been left alone, thankfully. Until now. If the experiment goes well, and audiences respond positively to the dubbed version, we might see other distributors trying their hand at it, and end up like Germany, Italy or Spain and even France (bar Paris), where everything is dubbed, except very few art house titles.

Dubbing is a disgrace to films everywhere and given the common language with America, we're lucky in the UK that we can watch all the Hollywood product untouched, and there is really no reason to dub the foreign language films. The audiences for these types of films (at least in this country) are well adjusted to reading subtitles and have no problems coming out for films in any language.

My guess is that distributors would be looking at crossover titles like DRAGON TATTOO, COCO AVANT CHANEL, TELL NO ONE and other foreign language features that appeal beyond the usual art house circuit - but aren't these the movies that are making good money anyway? Why mess with the system? This is one idea I hope fails miserably.


  1. That's all very well but for people who read slowly, subtitled films can be very hard work as you either read the subtitles and miss the action or watch the action and miss the dialogue.

    My mother reads slowly but is so dedicated to foreign films in the original language she'll watch them twice! But a lot of people simply won't bother.

  2. I understand your point but surely we must produce better quality subtitles (bigger, better translations, enhanced color and positioning) rather than throwing the baby out with the bath water...

  3. I find that it takes me about Five Minutes to "synch" when watching Foreign Films - after that, I barely notice that I'm reading while watching. I can understand Matt's position, though, as my Mum has similar difficulties - but tends to avoid movies "in Foriegn" rather than struggle (she loved Let The Right One In, though.)
    I've noticed the better positioning of subtitles in the last few years - and who could forget the innovative use of them in Night Watch?
    Personally speaking, I'd be distraught if I was watching Ludivine Sagnier and she had someone else's voice!?!

  4. Personally,I think that quite a number of American films,and regional British films could do with a bit of sub-titling;I always switch on the subs (when available) on DVDS,simply to get all nuances-this made all the difference to my enjoyment of e.g. No Country for Old Men,with the broad Texan;ok,so I'm a bit old and maybe my hearing's a bit dodgy,but as for dubbing-NO THANK YOU-there's nothing like the original nuance,even in a language you don't understand.I did think it rather comical when they translated 'Gu Nacht'in 'The Girl'-I've just watched Dreyer's 'Day of Wrath' where they didn't seemto find it necessary to translate'kom heer'.'The Girl'wins my award for the most comical trailer of the year so far-heaven forbid you let on it's in Swedish

    Jenifer seat A9

  5. Unfortunately, the system doesn't already work - foreign language films NEVER take the same as their English Language counterparts.

    Sadly, lots of people in the UK and Ireland completely dismiss subtitled films. Unfortunately, they are the same people that never read film blogs either.