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 Posted:   Oct 4, 2000 - 2:27 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

AMERICAN FEAR OF SUBTITLES

Let me walk into the lion's cage for a moment:

Seeing THE 13TH WARRIOR this summer reminded me of something I've been wondering about for a while: The americanization of language in film, born by the intention to avoid subtitles.

Now, it's a known fact among most non-american countries that the American narcissism, or better: ethno-centrism, is way over the top. There is a reason why you Americans refer to Europe as a coherent, USA-like whole, neglecting the fact that Europe consists of a number of VASTLY differing countries with unique and separate histories.

American tourists on holiday in Europe frequently express "Oh My GAWD!" when visiting the Eiffel Tower or the Colosseum, but in reality this is "superficial" awe. The fact remains that they miss that good ol' 7-eleven back home, with those darn good burgers. ( <--- sarcasm, guys)

In other words, the world seems to revolve around the United States of America.

This manifests itself - among other things (there's also the stereotyping of foreigners and particularly asian, german or english villains, like in THE PATRIOT) - in Hollywood films by the urge to MAKE EVERY CHARACTER SPEAK AMERICAN-ENGLISH WITH AN ACCENT, even if they are Indian, Norwegian or Mongolian. After all, we can't possibly have subtitles, can we? Oh no, those darn letters detract the attention from the action of the film (as if the Brechtian verfremdungseffekts of dubbing and americanization don't, huh?).

To avoid subtitles, then, Hollywood films utilize ABSURD means to segue from the original language of the characters in the beginning of the movie to a gradual americanization.

Enter THE 13TH WARRIOR: In the beginning of the movie, the vikings speak Norwegian, and a certain sense of realism is maintained (only a CERTAIN, though, because most of the actors aren't even proper norwegian, so they speak poor norwegian with a broad american accent. They obviously even told norwegian actor Dennis Storhøi to speak norwegian-american!! How about that?)

Then comes the hilarious camp fire-sequence, where Banderas is "listening" to the vikingstalk and gradually learning the language just by that. How is that for amazing!

After that, the vikings speak american (with an accent, of course) as if Banderas' learning is our learning, Banderas' ears are our ears. I found it extremely funny when Banderas suddenly started to talk in English to the vikings, and one of them turned, saying: "Hey, how did you learn our language?" in broad american. Very confusing, especially for a norwegian like myself.

This is not only the case with WARRIOR, but also thousands of other Hollywood productions, in which the subject matter is drawn from "exotic", non-american locations. An episode of X-FILES comes into my mind as well, where Mulder & Scully encounter a norwegian fishing boat in the north of Norway, and the crew speaks uncomprehendable Norwegian (after all, only americans are meant to watch this, right, so who will ever know that we used american actors to utter those guttural sounds? Well, I will, for one.)


GOD BLESS AMERICA!*****************************************************************************************


Greg Bryant Posted - 08/11/2000 : 06:20:18 AM

USA What are Mulder and Scully doing in Norway? Isn't it out of their jurisdiction?

(Actually our favorite item at the 7/Eleven is the "Big Gulp", 128 ounces of carbonated
sugar water. We get our hamburgers at White Castle. Which reminds me, why aren't there
any White Castles in Europe?) [;D]

*****************************************************************************************

Thor

Norway Posted - 08/11/2000 : 06:55:20 AM


quote:


What are Mulder and Scully doing in Norway? Isn't it out of their jurisdiction?

Isn't ANYTHING out of their jurisdiction, really?

quote:


(Actually our favorite item at the 7/Eleven is the "Big Gulp", 128 ounces of carbonated sugar water. We get our hamburgers at White Castle. Which reminds me, why aren't there any White Castles in
Europe?)


Oh, we've got white castles alright, but with kings and queens, not Bubby the Clerk and
Johnny the Cook....

*****************************************************************************************

Lux

Brazil
Posted - 08/11/2000 : 07:58:48 AM


This is called Imperialism.

Something filmmakers like S. Spielberg and others are so proud to spread around the
world...

Always look at the bright side of life!

*****************************************************************************************

Thor

Norway
Posted - 08/11/2000 : 08:08:36 AM


quote:


This is called Imperialism.


Hmm, I wouldn't call it imperialism. Imperialism implies a CONSCIOUS move from the
imperialist's side to "spread" the propaganda. I don't think that's the case here. I rather
think it's american, unconscious SELF-CENTEREDNESS that is the cause of it.

And of course I refuse to reply to that little Spielberg remark you made.

Edited by - Thor on 08/11/2000 08:10:03 AM

*****************************************************************************************

Lux

Brazil
Posted - 08/11/2000 : 08:17:08 AM


You really think it's "UNCOUSCIOUS"?
That's why they expend Millions and Millions of dollar doing it...

How naive...

Always look at the bright side of life!

*****************************************************************************************

Thor

Norway
Posted - 08/11/2000 : 08:20:29 AM

I say it is unconscious because it is part of the American mentality or ideology - that the
USA is considered the global core of sorts.

That they spend millions of dollars to make Hollywood movies is of course VERY
conscious, but it's grounded in the general CONSCIOUSNESS of the american people.

I would appreciate it if you, for once, would reply to one of my posts without intending to
"pick a fight".

Edited by - Thor on 08/11/2000 08:21:18 AM

*****************************************************************************************

Lux

Brazil
Posted - 08/11/2000 : 08:31:50 AM


I agree with "unconscious because it is part of the American mentality or ideology".

But, of course, this happens thanks to VERY CONSCIOUS decisions made by Washington
suported by the News/Propaganda Industry(Motion Pictures included).
It took decades to be build, but now it works perfectly all around the world, specially in
countries of the "so-called" 3th world...

Why do you think Paris and Indonesia (two well known anti american imperialist reducts)
were the only two places out of USA destroyed by meteors on "Armageddon"??

Quite obvious, if you ask me...

Am I paranoic? Yeah... sure. That's what they want you to believe when anyone gets a
clear picture of what's going on.

Always look at the bright side of life!

*****************************************************************************************

Marian Schedenig

Austria
Posted - 08/11/2000 : 09:31:45 AM

I understand the wish to avoid subtitles throughout the whole movie (as long as we're
talking about the original language version of the movie, i.e. in this case the American
version). Of course, it's always a question of how it's done. The "transition" from 13th
Warrior you mentioned (I haven't seen it myself) sounds really stupid. I like the way they
did it in Hunt for Red October, where the Russians speak Russian in the beginning, but
then, while one of the characters reads a longer text, the camera zooms to his mouth, and
when it reaches it, he starts talking English and the camera zooms out again. Of course,
when they talk to Americans, they speak Russian again.

*****************************************************************************************

Greg Bryant

USA
Posted - 08/11/2000 : 10:02:51 AM

To be honest, and paying respect to our Euro friends, I do watch a lot of foreign language
films...and the only way to accomplish that is in subtitles, since I am monolingual.
Dubbing doesn't cut it for me, just watch any Godzilla movie.

*****************************************************************************************

Bill R. Myers

Posted - 08/11/2000 : 12:26:05 PM

I hate dubbing; it's put an ugly mark on so many fine films. I've seen Godzilla films with
better dubbing than Cinema Paradiso and Fanny and Alexander

*****************************************************************************************

Nash Bridges

USA
Posted - 08/11/2000 : 12:42:20 PM

Having foreign characters always speak in English isn't always the case. As best as I can
recall (haven't seen the film in a couple months), don't all the Russians in AIR FORCE ONE
speak in Russian whenever they're alone together? That's the way I remember it being.

*****************************************************************************************

Marian Schedenig

Austria
Posted - 08/11/2000 : 2:47:54 PM

Just in case I didn't express myself clearly: I'm not against "foreign" people speaking the
movie's language when they have a major role and their dialogue is important.

A completely different issue is dubbing a movie for release in a different country. As you
can imagine, everything we get to see here on TV is dubbed in German. While bad dubs
are horrible, a good dub at least ruins the actor's performances, simply because their
mimics do no longer match their words. Most of my DVDs are Code1 discs, because I don't
watch the German dubs anyway and the European DVDs are often inferior to the US
versions.

*****************************************************************************************

Kimiakane

USA
Posted - 08/11/2000 : 10:43:04 PM

Dubbing is useful when children want to watch something and have not yet mastered the
art of reading quickly...especially those Godzilla films!

#1 Supporters of underrated animation scores deserving of a CD release!!!

*****************************************************************************************

Brian Mellies

Posted - 08/11/2000 : 11:48:59 PM

Well, so far this has been the most interesting film music topic on this new board. All the
way through, your obvious knowledge of film music has been outstanding.
Oh, and while you're analyzing the big bad American, I live in a tourist glutted U.S. city,
San Francisco. The European tourists are the rudist, pushiest around. And none of the use
deodorant.
By the way, next time you have a problem with an American tourist, just refuse to take his
money. That'll teach him!!

*****************************************************************************************

Thor

Norway
Posted - 08/14/2000 : 05:47:46 AM

Hey Brian, I USE DEODORANT, GODDAMNIT!!
(well, now that you're saying it, I HAVE been wondering why people have avoided my
posts recently...) No seriously, thanks for the kind words.

This weekend, I decided to watch RUMBLE IN THE BRONX (don't ask), but as soon as I
saw that the lip synch didn't match the voiceover, I turned it off. To me, dubbing draws
me out of the film (verfremdungseffekt) completely, and I want the film to envelop me.
The same thing - although to a lesser extent - can be applied to the "american shortcut".

I want REALISM!! And realism, to me, can only come about with natural, realistic
characters, whose foundation must be laid in the way they talk and behave. The fomer
requires their mother tongue. No easy way out; subtitles will do.

*****************************************************************************************

Greg Bryant

USA
Posted - 08/14/2000 : 06:56:53 AM

Thor, I agree with you on the realism issue. While it is fun to watch Jackie Chan, I do feel
something is being lost in the translation.

I've seen several of John Woo's Hong Kong films (The Killer, Hard-Boiled), which are
basically Chinese "Bruce Willis" films. However, I think I have a greater appreciation for
them becuase they are in the original language (subtitled). They carry much more impact
than if they were "Americanized."

*****************************************************************************************

TE

Germany
Posted - 08/14/2000 : 11:06:18 AM

When you are making an expensive movie like The 13th Warrior as an American film you
can´t avoid making the film in English. What are the chances of success when you have a
film in Norwegian at your local multiplex? At least that film tried to acknowledge the fact
that the protagonists did not speak English in their native tongue. While certainly
simplified I considered it an acceptable way of presenting that fact.

The other thing Thor mentioned is certainly far more disturbing for me. It´s when actors
try to talk in a language other than their own. I can empathise with the pain you felt when
you heard American actors murdering the Norwegian language. I often wondered why the
film makers don´t hire decent language coaches for their stars and cast supporting parts
with actors from that specific country. For someone who speaks the language scenes that
are supposed to be serious turn out to be simply ridiculous because of the heavy accents.
Coming from Germany there are a lot of examples in that respect - my favourite being The
Guns Of Navarone in which Gregory Peck is introduced as being able to speak Greek like a
Greek and German like German. In one sequence he approaches a German guard and says
something that is completely incomprehensible and has very little resemblence to any
German words living or dead. I shudder when I thing of what his Greek may sound like. At
least the filmmakers got one thing right - the guard starts to shoot at Peck - he probably
didn´t understand a word either.

With a good teacher these problems can be minimized - look for example at Richard
Attenborough in The Great Escape or Christopher Lee in 1941. While there still is a hint of
an accent you actually have to concentrate on their inflections to hear it.

If only a limited amount of scenes take place among Non-English speaking characters
subtitling can be an option - good examples being Dances With Wolves, The Longest Day
and Tora! Tora! Tora!. But it means having enough scenes in English that audiences don´t
feel like being in an arthouse movie. Unless you are sitting in an arthouse movie - than
you can get away with a completely subtitled film.

Subtitling is certainly not a perfect solution but it certainly beats dubbing. I always prefer
original language versions ven though there not vry easy to come by in Germany where
everything is dubbed. That´s one of the advantages of DVD - they can contain various
language tracks.

*****************************************************************************************

Nash Bridges

USA
Posted - 08/14/2000 : 12:03:43 PM

Has anybody seen the Jackie Chain movie WHO AM I? Roughly the first 25 minutes or so
are dubbed, but then the rest of the film is spoken in English. Not bad, but actual spoken
English. It's strange. When I first started watching it, I said to myself, "Great. Another
bad dub job." But then it cleared up and I was surprised to see that everyone in the film
was actually speaking English.

By the way, this film has probably the most incredible fight I've ever seen right near the
end, with Jackie taking on two guys on top of a building in Holland that just goes and
goes and goes and goes. Sure as hell blows away everything in THE MATRIX.

*****************************************************************************************

Brian Mellies

Posted - 08/15/2000 : 01:00:15 AM

You know, it seems to me that when you're making a movie that features Antonio
Banderas
talking to Vikings, the least of your problems is dubbing.

*****************************************************************************************

Nash Bridges

USA
Posted - 08/15/2000 : 01:09:32 AM

Haha!!

I couldn't believe how bad this film was. Though that one night battle scene was
fantastic. Even though they spoke in English, I still couldn't make ou 98% of what was
said during the first 30 minutes.

NP: DRACULA (Kilar) - "Mina's Photo"

*****************************************************************************************

Swordmaster

Finland
Posted - 08/15/2000 : 01:30:26 AM

Didn't Star Wars films feature subtitles when Jabba the Hutt or Greedo were speaking?
What about Star Trek movies - did the Klingons speak Klingon (it's been a while since I
saw any ST)?

Anyhow, being raised in Finland I'm pretty accustomed to reading subtitles both in
theaters and on TV. The only dubbing done here is for children films and TV series (Poke!
Poke! Poke!). However, since I always try to listen to what's actually said in English it's
often disturbing to hear the accent choices in films. (Anyone notice how the Empire uses
British accent and the Rebels American accent in Star Wars movies? Coincidence? I think
not.)

I recently saw a Finnish-Swedish-Norwegian film called "The Minister of Sagojoga" on TV.
In the film, the characters speak Finnish, Swedish and Same (maybe even Norwegian) all
mixed up and with characters changing their language "on the fly". It was pretty
interesting, since whereas I could understand the lines spoken in Finnish, the other
languages were subtitled. Gave sort of a nice edge for the whole film. Can't see why it
couldn't be done in American films, too.

*****************************************************************************************

Nash Bridges

USA
Posted - 08/15/2000 : 01:41:37 AM

Let's not forget, one of the X-Wing pilots in STAR WARS was Texan. "Stay up here an' wait
for my singul." Then again, being in the STAR WARS universe, perhaps he was from
Texellia, a neighboring planet to Han Solo's native Corellia?

*****************************************************************************************

Marian Schedenig

Austria
Posted - 08/15/2000 : 06:45:08 AM

The wrecked German of the Nazis in the Indy movies is really funny. But the best worst
foreign language quote I've ever heard was Schwarzenegger's "Oil the sword and feed the
horse" in Conan. I had to rewind and watch it again at least 10 times.

*****************************************************************************************

Thor

Norway
Posted - 08/15/2000 : 07:03:20 AM

TE:

>>When you are making an expensive movie like The 13th Warrior as an American film
you can´t avoid making the film in English<<

Well, of course I can understand that. But I don't need to respect it. It is detrimental to
the art of film when compromises like these have to be met just to please the forces of
capitalism. It should be possible to make a REALISTIC film with characters speaking in
their mother tongue AND AT THE SAME TIME cashing in at the box office.

Most of the time, it is the FEAR OF SUBTITLES that cause these bizarre transitions rather
than capitalistic forces. I also think the RED OCTOBER transition that Marian mentioned is
too obvious to be fluent. As of now, I can't think of any other respectable way to segue
from mother tongue to English than to have the "foreign" characters speak DELIBERATE
and CONSCIOUS English with Americans (they have to retain their mother tongue when
speaking to fellow countrymen, of course).

Tutoring actors is a good idea, but an even better idea is to use REAL NORWEGIANS OR
GERMANS or whatever in the roles that require this nationality, not americans.

Why do you think that subtitles is not the perfect solution?

Swordmaster:

No, the klingons - in for example STAR TREK 2 (or was it 3) - speak fluently English too,
even when they're alone with each other. Only the first few scenes are shot with original,
subtitled klingon, but then suddenly they change into English.

*****************************************************************************************

Marian Schedenig

Austria
Posted - 08/15/2000 : 10:59:48 AM

IIRC, the Klingons in #5 also speak their own language, and in #6 they also do.

*****************************************************************************************

Thor

Norway
Posted - 08/16/2000 : 06:06:59 AM

Yeah, but do they speak klingon throughout the entire movie?

*****************************************************************************************

John Maher

USA
Posted - 08/16/2000 : 06:52:31 AM

I really have no problem with supposed non-Americans speaking English in American films.
They are, afterall, American films. I do, however, despise dubbed films. I would much
rather read sub-titles (and hear an actor's true voice), than be constantly distracted by
dubbing.

John

*****************************************************************************************

Thor

Norway
Posted - 08/16/2000 : 07:07:32 AM

Point taken, John, but I DO think that film should - IDEALLY - be considered an
international medium that knows no borders. Film should really present us with a
REALISTIC, OBJECTIVE landscape (although the subject matter might be unrealistic, of
course).

As such, just because a film is produced in the United States of America shouldn't
automatically go to mean that this realism should be evaded at all costs. Or?

*****************************************************************************************

Marian Schedenig

Austria
Posted - 08/16/2000 : 08:22:56 AM

I have no problem with foreign characters speaking the movie's "main" language, as I said
above. Ideally, I like to understand what they say, so I don't have to read subtitles and
can watch the actual images.

The reason why I don't like dubbing is because it more or less ruins the original. In these
cases, I prefer subtitles.

Re the Klingon thing: As far as I remember, they do speak Klingon consistently in these
movies, but speak in English when they are talking with men.

NP: The Patriot

*****************************************************************************************

MrBlack


Posted - 08/16/2000 : 10:11:33 AM

I remember watching THE THING with a Norwegian friend and he was cracking up at the
beginning where these crazy Norwegians are chasing the infecting dog, yelling Norwegian
with the worst accent ever. Wasn't that the producer playing the Norwegian?

Anyhow, I guess it's easy and cheap for the filmmakers to go easy on this aspect, because
nobody really cares, who knows what Norwegian really sounds like, you know? So, hey why
don't we let our producer play the Norwegian, it'll be good enough, and save us money at
the same time!

Some people in Norway will notice all right, but I don't think the filmmakers will have a
hard time sleeping because of that. Realism has never been Hollywoods strongest asset.

Subtitles will never be accepted in America. That's why they remake all foreign movies into
American ones, so the audience don't have to read. Some do find an audience though,
such as LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL (aren't they planning a remake?), but they rarely do any
business. The supurb EL MARIACHI was released in two versions on video, a dubbed one
and a subtitled one. The subtitled one hardly sold anything while the dubbed version went
through the roof (The laserdisc has subtitles+dubbed/original soundtracks, everyone is
pleased). This is scary, 'cause I don't think Americans really like dubbing more than I do,
it ruins the movie completely. Anything to avoid the subtitles, right.

THE 13TH WARRIOR is an American movie with a bunch of Norwegian viking characters.
From the Hollywood point of view it would be ridiculous to let them speak Norwegian and
subtitle the whole movie. Who would see it? Ok, nobody saw it anyways, but I don't think
it was because of the language. Also if they did hire an all Norwegian cast and go for
realism, they would have to learn how the language was spoken at that time which is
different from today. My Norwegian friend complained about the Norwegian kid speaking
his lines, it was like a kid today hanging out at the mall (No Americans will notice that,
right), it sounded weird and "wrong". Maybe the kid should get the American accent as
well to blend in! I don't know. Realism? Then they should go to Norway and shoot it there,
where it is suppose to take place.

Money rules.

*****************************************************************************************

dante

Netherlands
Posted - 08/16/2000 : 1:08:31 PM

Since I'm from Holland it always bugs me that dutch actors who make it in Hollywood are
always playing (evil) Germans (Jeroen Krabbé in A view to a Kill I think) there are a couple
of exceptions though: I don't think Rutger Hauer (a rather German name I might add)
never played a German, the same goes for Famke Janssen.

Nash, I have been told that in Who Am I there are different European cities who are all
edited together as being Holland.
I haven't seen the film myself but a teacher of mine (I'm a student at the Dutch Film and
Television Academy) was the producer for the scenes shot in Holland (in Rotterdam for
your information).

---Dante

*****************************************************************************************

Thor

Norway
Posted - 08/17/2000 : 06:43:55 AM

Some more good comments made.

Mr. Black:

That THING thing was indeed hilarious. It kinda leviates some of the excitement of the
scene, you know, when you're busy laughing your ass off at the poor Norwegian accent.

I still say - naïve as it may be - that it should be possible to make a linguistically realistic
film and also making profits at the same time. If that's not possible, well then that tells
more about the American audience (and its lack of understanding/fear of subtitles) than
the film production itself. That's just my opinion, anyway.

>>Subtitles will never be accepted in America. That's why they remake all foreign movies
into American ones, so the audience don't have to read<<

That's a good point. I had forgotten about that. But now that you say it, I remember the
ORIGINAL Norwegian film HEAD ABOVE WATER, directed by the Oscar-nominated Nils
Gaup, and how it was BUTCHERED into an american remake starring Harvey Keitel and
Cameron Diaz (and a score by Christopher Young, which was good). The original film's
strength was its location and its atmosphere, the unique coastline along the Southern part
of Norway. Moving the entire thing to...was it Florida?...kinda changed everything - for the
worse. But it was ok entertainment nevertheless.

It's not so much that American audiences can't read. It has more to do with the fact that
the American Way is the Best Way, and so everything has to be channeled through
American standards - even the views on "foreign" characters, language and location etc.

dante:

Your mention of "foreign" characters as portrayed evilly(?) in American films is a very
interesting one, although another topic altogether. They are not only portrayed as bad
guys, but also sometimes ridiculed (Germans with "Wilhelm Tell" outfit, Asians with straw
hats etc.).

btw, Van Damme is dutch, isn't he? He's often the hero. But then again, he is - like Paul
Verhoeven, Renny Harlin and Arnold Schwarzenegger - more American now than their
original nationality.

*****************************************************************************************

Marian Schedenig

Austria
Posted - 08/17/2000 : 07:52:04 AM

Schwarzenegger - LOL!

NP: Koyaanisqatsi (Philip Glass)
*****************************************************************************************
Swordmaster

Finland
Posted - 08/17/2000 : 08:36:42 AM


quote:

btw, Van Damme is dutch, isn't he? He's often the hero. But then again, he is - like Paul Verhoeven,
Renny Harlin and Arnold Schwarzenegger - more American now than their original nationality.


Renny Harlin hasn't quite lost his Finnish roots yet. He still frequently visits Finland. Not
sure if he has a house here anymore, though. *****************************************************************************************
Thor

Norway
Posted - 08/18/2000 : 05:45:42 AM

Swordmaster: Yeah, I'm sure he's still finnish WITHIN. It's just that most of his Hollywood
film productions are just that: Hollywood film productions.

btw, am I the only one who has noticed that Hollywood "imports" such as Verhoeven,
Harlin and Emmerich are really the ones who make the most over-the-top, american
patriotic films? Could there be sarcasm underneath? *****************************************************************************************
dante

Netherlands
Posted - 08/18/2000 : 12:37:33 PM

Thor
Van Damme is Belgian, from the french speaking part of Belgium to be exact.

As for Emmerich making patriotic films: remember that Dean Devlin writes the screenplays
and I do think he's American, isn't he?

And don't forget Jan de Bont he's dutch too.

---Dante
*****************************************************************************************
Swashbuckler

USA
Posted - 08/19/2000 : 10:31:11 PM


quote:


Subtitles will never be accepted in America. That's why they remake all foreign movies into American
ones, so the audience don't have to read. Some do find an audience though, such as LIFE IS
BEAUTIFUL (aren't they planning a remake?), but they rarely do any business. The supurb EL
MARIACHI was released in two versions on video, a dubbed one and a subtitled one. The subtitled
one hardly sold anything while the dubbed version went through the roof (The laserdisc has
subtitles+dubbed/original soundtracks, everyone is

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 4, 2000 - 2:54 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Swashbuckler

USA
Posted - 08/19/2000 : 10:31:11 PM


quote:


Subtitles will never be accepted in America. That's why they remake all foreign movies into American
ones, so the audience don't have to read. Some do find an audience though, such as LIFE IS
BEAUTIFUL (aren't they planning a remake?), but they rarely do any business. The supurb EL
MARIACHI was released in two versions on video, a dubbed one and a subtitled one. The subtitled
one hardly sold anything while the dubbed version went through the roof (The laserdisc has
subtitles+dubbed/original soundtracks, everyone is pleased). This is scary, 'cause I don't think
Americans really like dubbing more than I do, it ruins the movie completely.
Anything to avoid the subtitles, right.


Actually, to clear up one thing, El Mariachi was shot silent. The soundtrack was completely
created in a studio; Rodriguez planned to have both at the same time. That film has more
in common with a spaghetti western than it does with anything else (i.e. any number of
languages is spoken on the set, a language track is created for each market).

They attempted to release a dubbed version of Life is Beautiful here, and people stayed
away in droves. Part of the problem was that it was promoted by the tagline "I used to
say 'Bonjorno Principessa,' now I say "Hello Princess."

Regarding those American remakes... many of them suck, but one of the worst would have
to be Point of No Return, which attempted to be a shot-for-shot remake of La Femme
Nikita. It fails for several reasons, one of which is that, however talented Bridget Fonda is,
she is not believable as either the strung-out junkie or the tough-as-nails assassin that
Anne Paurillaud won her Cesar nailing. Not to mention the fact that for some reason, John
Badham seems to have completely missed the fact that Luc Besson set his film in the
not-to-distant future, while Badham makes it contemporary, which does not jibe with the
story.
*****************************************************************************************

Marian Schedenig

Austria
Posted - 08/20/2000 : 5:33:27 PM

Ouch, Point of no Return was horrible indeed. As was Nightwatch, at least when you've
seen the original. Somehow they managed to leave out all the important aspects or at
least to extremely shorten them, and

SPOILER!

in the end, I didn't even care when he cut his hand off.

NP: Henry V (Doyle)
*****************************************************************************************
Thor

Norway
Posted - 08/22/2000 : 08:30:33 AM

dante:

Yes, you're right. Devlin writes the screenplays, and that's where the MAJOR patriotism
issue lies, I'm sure. However, Emmerich should at least take SOME of the heat, as his
direction of actors frequently follow that patriotic "curse" in exaggerated performances.

*****************************************************************************************
MWRuger

USA
Posted - 08/22/2000 : 08:45:32 AM

Well, all have to say is that ..Its good to be the King!!! http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/smile.gif">

Seriously though, I understand your complaint but unfortunately, this is nothing new.

When France was the most powerful country in Europe the language of the sophisticate was
French. In fact, if you couldn't speak and read French you were considered ignorant.
All of the really important works were written in French. It was the language of science and
philosophy. The rest of the world had to do with translations or do without.

As I have said before, I don't have a problem with subtitles and prefer them to dubs but most
people in the USA don't.

Having said that I think that nothing will change until the USA is no longer the most dominant
nation on the planet. The most powerful nation's culture always seems to dominate its
neighbors. Like at China and Japan. The Chinese didn't conquer Japan, but their culture did.

I accept that this will happen one day, although I don't think in my life it will, but if I was
betting on a successor, it would probably be China. If you think you have problems with us, just
wait until you have to try and type in language with 5000+ characters!

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 6, 2000 - 7:26 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

I just watched THE HINDENBURG this weekend (erroneously introduced as a disaster movie).

Here is a prime example of total confusion:

EVERYONE speaks fluently american - both the americans proper and the nazi protagonists. Not even hints of the accent that is so commonplace with the portrayal of "evil" foreigners.

You guys are really putting yourselves in the corner by evading subtitles and/or the original language.

Good score by Shire, by the way.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 5, 2000 - 10:56 PM   
 By:   The Big Bear   (Member)

Unfortunately for you, I supposed, English is the language that will gets the most business and the least complaints from a film. It's true that many Americans don't want to read subtitles (and who can blame them really, just wanting to sit back and enjoy the story). It's also true that many others around the world either DON'T mind reading subtitles or DON'T especially mind listening to English.

There are exceptions and reversals. I remember wishing to hell that there was a dubbed version of CITY OF LOST CHILDREN because I really wanted to look at the movie's gorgeous photography and, being the bourgeois Yank, didn't speak one lick of French.

There is also DANCES WITH WOLVES, true to the languages within it right down to the last Lakota syllable.

By the way, I have seen both versions of LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL and can say there are virtues and shortcomings to both the subtitled and dubbed. The subtitles of course have the original actors' voices, a huge part of the film's emotional wallop. But the dubbed version, a very well-done dubbed version, includes a little something called comic and dramatic timing. You see, subtitles seldom nail down the beats and inflections of speech.

Having movies cross cultural boundaries is a tricky business... you don't want to constantly remind people they are watching a movie. And like it or not, most U.S. studios are trying to market films to the lowest common denominator.

But don't blame all of America. That's not fair, or particularly intelligent. It's like blaming you for having a different language in the first place. A moot point at best.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 6, 2000 - 3:03 AM   
 By:   Marian Schedenig   (Member)

quote:
Originally posted by The Big Bear:
But the dubbed version, a very well-done dubbed version, includes a little something called comic and dramatic timing. You see, subtitles seldom nail down the beats and inflections of speech.

But that's exactly one of my main complaints about dubbed versions: They hardly EVER do have the RIGHT beats. The translated sentences simply have the words at different positions most of the time, so the actor's mimics don't fit what they say. A great performance often looks only average in a dubbed version.

I watched the Jurassic Park DVD today. Much better in the original version, as well. Although I had a feeling that the score was mixed lower than in the German dub. In any case, the music wasn't loud enough.

NP: The Doors Concerto

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 7, 2000 - 7:47 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Big Bear:

Please note that the major part of my postings in this thread are done with a wink of sarcasm. I wouldn't have "walked into the lion's cage" if I didn't. So I'm not seriously "blaming all of America" or anything like it, of course.

As for the issue at hand, I will have to disagree with you once again:

It's funny that you should manifest this american "fear of subtitles" that I keep talking about. In your eyes, sitting back and enjoying the story/photography etc. in a film is HARDER with subtitles attached. To me, it's the complete opposite; If the film was dubbed, this would draw so much attention to itself (no matter how eloquent the lip synch) that I would be left with a COMPLETE ROBBING OF REALISM AND THE OPPORTUNITY TO ENTER THE STORY/MILIEU. I guess it all boils down what you're USED TO.

Second, I won't deny the "americanization" of the world, of course, and the consequent linguistic standardisation that follows. English is the world's second(?) largest language - of course it's got market potential.

BELIEVABILITY should be aimed at at all costs (settings, characters w/original language, everyday acting etc.). From that point-of-departure, feel free to be as unrealistic as you want (sci fi, adventure or whatever). But unless you've got the audience nailed, any attempt at story-telling fails. Dubbing loosens these nails considerably, IMO.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 24, 2000 - 2:00 AM   
 By:   Spacehunter   (Member)

Yup. More examples that not all American films feature English-speaking characters from different countries:

U-571 (all the Germans speak German; hell, even one of the American characters speaks German!)

AIR FORCE ONE (all the Russians actually speak Russian)

And if I remember correctly, in THE TEMPLE OF DOOM, one of the village elders tells Indy the story of their sacred stones, and Indy has to translate it for Willy and Short Round (and the audience).

More examples to come . . .

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 24, 2000 - 2:12 AM   
 By:   Marian Schedenig   (Member)

Saw the German-dubbed Die Hard today (only my 2nd time to see the film). While in this version, the terrorists are not even German (they are "from Europe"), the Germans in the original US version reportedly do speak German, but many of the sentences are gramatically incorrect or even meaningless. One of these days, I have to get the DVD.

Oh, and I've read that the Russians in Hunt for Red October don't speak Russian, but just something that sounds like Russian. Can anybody confirm this?

Anyway, Thor, would you really prefer not to have Sean Connery in the lead role of Red October but some Russian actor instead? http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/wink.gif">

NP: City Hall (Jerry Goldsmith)

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 27, 2000 - 5:41 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

quote:
Originally posted by Marian Schedenig:
Anyway, Thor, would you really prefer not to have Sean Connery in the lead role of Red October but some Russian actor instead?

Maybe. But no, Connery does great.

Rumour has it that Connery actually entered his role to the degree that all the "officers" on the sub looked at him as a real "captain" with the consequent authority off as well as onstage. Given that fact, I think he would have had the energy to learn proper Russian as well, if time had allowed...

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 27, 2000 - 6:32 AM   
 By:   Greg Bryant   (Member)

quote:
(We get our hamburgers at White Castle. Which reminds me, why aren't there any White Castles in Europe?)

Oh, we've got white castles alright, but with kings and queens, not Bubby the Clerk and Johnny the Cook....


That's one thing the Euro's are missing out on...if you've never had White Castle hamburgers, you've never lived. Pick up a sack next time you happen to the Midwest US.

Then you'll understand why we nickname them "Belly Bombers" (among other less printable things)!

http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/biggrin.gif"> http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/biggrin.gif"> http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/biggrin.gif"> http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/biggrin.gif"> http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/biggrin.gif">
[This message has been edited by Greg Bryant (edited 27 November 2000).]

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 8, 2001 - 4:51 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Just wondering:

Are the Japanese i PEARL HARBOR speaking English (like in MIDWAY)?

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 8, 2001 - 4:57 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

And another thing I just remembered:

In RED CORNER, the language barrier is inconsistently preserved. It becomes especially hilarious towards the end of the movie, where the female protagonist (the chinese lawyer) is discovered rummaging through some archives by a chinese guard.

In trying to turn the tables by threating the guard (she has some ace up her sleeve that I don't remember right now), she suddenly says:

- "....and as not to embarass you further, I will now speak English to you."

And then she speaks English.

Now, there's a desperate solution if I ever saw one! http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/smile.gif">
[This message has been edited by Thor (edited 08 June 2001).]

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 8, 2001 - 7:01 AM   
 By:   K-9   (Member)

You want to know the real reason Americans hate subtitles?

It's because they are lazy!!! They want to enjoy a movie, but they don't want to use any brain-power to get there. While I was standing in line to get my ticket to see CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, I heard this conversation:

"Hey, let's see that Jap film!"
"Is it in English?"
"No, it has subtitles, I think"
"Forget it. I don't want to have to read
while I'm watching a movie!!"

See, too lazy to put a little effort into something, they ended up seeing BIG MOMMA'S HOUSE or something equally uplifting. http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/rolleyes.gif">. I run into the same problem trying to get friends interested in opera. I've seen a couple, and have enjoyed them, but I can't get anyone else to go. It's always the same arguement:
"I can't understand what they're saying"
"There are English subtitles"
"But then I'll have to read along to keep
up with the action" (in a whining voice)

I've tried to convince them that they can follow the story without paying that much attention to the subtitles, but so far my efforts are for nought!!

K-9
np: RUSH HOUR (Schifrin)

 
 Posted:   Jun 8, 2001 - 8:52 AM   
 By:   Hercule Platini   (Member)

In the UK, the new French thriller THE CRIMSON RIVERS has just opened. All the trailers were dubbed into English but as far as I can gather, the film itself is subtitled. (Though the distributors have decided not to screen it within 40 miles of my home) http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/frown.gif">

NP: THE CORRUPTOR (Carter Burwell)

 
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