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December 1996, Week 2


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Dan Gribbin Ferrum College Virginia <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 11 Dec 1996 12:34:43 -0500
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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Though I have experienced student distaste for subtitled films (they involve
reading, after all), I remain vehemently opposed to dubbing.  Whether the
language is one that the viewer is relatively familiar with or not, the loss
of original voice inflection that results from dubbing is catastrophic in
most cases.  One has only to view (and listen to) the dubbed vs. the
subtitled versions of "The Conformist" to drive this point home.  The
negative effect of dubbing is exponentially increased if the film happens to
star one's favorite foreign actor, but I won't go into that.  We might make a
list of excellent films which lose much of their effect in dubbed form.  I'd
certainly rank "Das Boot" high on the list.  The tension generated by the
predicament of a submarine crew trapped underwater is almost totally defused
by inappropriate and tinny dubbed voices.  What a relief when the subtitled
version (which I had originally seen in the theater) became available on VHS.
 Another interesting category of experience to consider is the viewing of a
foreign film in the host country, so to speak, without benefit of subtitles
or dubbing.  "Keiner Liebt Mich" (Nobody Loves Me) is an example of a film
which comes across pretty well whether one is up on one's German or not.
 After viewing a film without subtitles, however, one appreciates the value
of subtitling all the more, given the opportunity to pick up on nuances of
meaning.  Then again, there is a big difference between good subtitling and
poor subtitling, not to mention the problem of reading white subtitles in a
film in which the actors all seem to be wearing white shirts and blouses.
Dan Gribbin
Ferrum College
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