Crappy Dubbing, or: Why watch movies in their original language

“It’s a dreadful play, true! A festering pustule on the face of literature. Why the parchment it’s written upon isn’t worthy to wipe my ass! BUT YOU NEED NOT MAKE IT WORSE! Say your lines with conviction, ma cherie! Like a true actor!”
The Marquis in “Quills”

Ever since I had access to lots of movies in their original language, I prefer to watch them this way. With subtitles if needed (i.e., if the original language is not English or German). And so far I haven’t heard even one example for which the dubbing was better than the original. And that includes movies like “The Raid” (Indonesian) and “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” (Mandarin) — and yeah, luckily there were subtitles.

But it’s hard to notice if you haven’t compared the two — and who wants to watch a movie twice, once in the original, once dubbed. However, you can quickly compare the two versions by watching the trailers. I had the bad luck to watch the German version of the “Star Trek Beyond” trailer in the cinema today and I (unfortunately) also remember the English version. But you can compare them more easily on YouTube. I mean, even with a — likely badly done and pimped out — movie the dubbed trailer is just … awful. Even beyond the content itself (see what I did there ;-)).

Compare for yourself.

Original (English) version:

Dubbed (German) version:

The German version just sounds … hollow … the voices don’t match, and I don’t even mean the lip syncing. It’s the emotional content that is just way too flat. And while I haven’t compared it, I’m guessing there are translation errors in it too.

So, even if you don’t speak the original language well, or if the subtitles usually distract you from the movie, try them out occasionally. I’m so-so when it comes to understanding English, but it’s good enough for almost all movies. It’s not that hard to muddle along. And with other languages — yep, there are subtitles.

If you need other examples, just go to YouTube and compare the trailers in the original version and in your native language.

1 Comment

  1. Nah, that’s circumstantial evidence.^^ Think again. How would you notice a better translation if you compare it by the degree it matches the original, if the original doesn’t even fulfill that constraint? And who would notice it? I suggest to judge by internal consistency and see how well it works for the target audience. To notice that lip-synched is an additional feature only in the translation. and to look for some examples, which corrected errors in the original or improved sound quality. Sure, there are also many Agathe Bauer’s out there.

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