Monday, 20 October 2008

Lost in Translation?

So, when I was in Italy recently as I mentioned, I went to see the Dark Knight (again). I haven't written a review for it yet, so moved was I by it's brilliance, but I probably will soon, once I've watched it again and again and again. But not, I might add, in Italian. I've always thought it a little strange but Italy gets all its films dubbed. All of them. There's no provision for, because there's simply no interest in, watching a subtitled movie.
That. Is. Mental. Right?

I had this discussion with my Italian flatmate many times, and she said most people just don't want to read a film. But I cried, that means that you don't even know what any of the hollywood greats sound like. You've never heard Pacino rant? You've never swam in McKellen's throaty stew? You've never err, basked in oh I don't know, Meryl Streep's chocolatey fondue? It's insanity! The really odd thing of course, is that there is a version of these actors in every territory. An Italian Christian Bale. A French Michael Caine. And these aural dopplegangers get all the work their Hollywood progenitor instigates. How bizarre. What's worse, because familiarity breeds love before contempt, my flat mate said she, and these mysterious "most people", preferred the Italian versions before she moved to the UK, and now has to put up with these third rate "real" voices. Wrong. While I now know she was generalising horribly concerning her fellow countrymen's cinematic tastes as the video over the break demonstrates, it raises an interesting point..

I personally,wouldn't dream of watching even a Miyazaki film dubbed, and they're just (!) cartoons! Is this just a case of me being some kind of film snob, or is this a real issue? I refuse to believe it's just me. Cinema, if anything is a fusion of vision and sound (so sayeth David Lynch) and words are a fairly integral part of sound I would maintain. And while TDK retained its brooding glory, the Joker amongst others simply didn't work. So much is lost from the performance, I almost felt sorry for Italy. But then would the nuances of the performance truly be retained to the non English speaking ear with the original voice? Am I really getting the whole Dae-Su Oh story in Old Boy just because I'm listening to Min-sik Choi's voice and reading his words? Is this something I just can't comprehend because I'm English and so are most of the movies I watch? Is the following really a better option than dubbing?

I say, yes of course it is, don't be stupid. But I'm conscious there are other people in the world prone to opinions of their own. So tell me, do you people like subtitles in movies or does what you don't know not hurt you?

You heard me.

1 comment:

I.E. Wirtz said...

If i do not speak the language for which a film is made, i do not believe i can understand the nuances of an actor's pattern of speech to the degree that hearing his voice is a necessary indulgence.
On the other hand, the alien sound of dubbing is enjoyable for me, because one of the joys of watching a foreign film is to bask in the glow of unfamiliarity and irregularity.
But that is me, and i am a simple man.