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December 1996, Week 1


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Meredith McMinn <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 6 Dec 1996 01:48:13 -0800
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The one argument in favor of dubbing is also an argument against, or,
more accurately, making the point of the original post.  The actor's
voice is as much a part of the performance and thus of the  film as any
other single element.  No two actors sound exactly alike and certainly
English sounds quite different from other languages.  Unfortunately,
watching films in an unfamiliar language is always going to involve some
loss (or is it enhancement, at times?) in the translation.
The one good argument in favor of dubbing, in my opinion, is that it
gives American voice-over actors work.  Thus, I am in favor of it...if I
get the job! :-)
On Thu, 5 Dec 1996, Evan Cameron wrote:
> Let me second Jesse Kalin's remark that the strange effect of switching
> one's attention from perceiving to reading, which subtitles requires,
> deserves more attention that it has been given, and is indeed, in my
> experience and judgment, the sole and perhaps decisive argument in favour
> of dubbing.  It is unfortunate that most North Americans have no awareness
> of how well and effectively dubbing can be done, though most Europeans who
> lived through the last era of cross-country exchanges of good films
> (1955-1970) will not forget it, especially when confronted with the
> computerized garbage rushed into place nowadays.  The impact of
> Tarkovsky's long takes when well-dubbed, for example, compared to the
> constant interruption of them required when reading subtitles, has
> perhaps to be experienced to be believed.
> It is equally unfortunate that no one has bothered to study the most
> notable other effect of reading subtitles.  I well recall how intellectual
> the babblings of the drunken guests at Fellini's party in EIGHT-AND-A-HALF
> seemed to those of us compelled to read the lines via subtitles when it
> appeared (is read like an existentialist tract); and how astonished we
> were to learn that our Italian counterparts considered ASPHALT JUNGLE to
> be equally intellectual when its dialogue was filtered through the act of
> reading, compared to the debased level of communication they found in
> their own indigenous productions (their masterpieces, by our 'reading').
> Evan William Cameron                            Telephone: 416-736-5149
> York University - CFT 216 (Film)                Fax:       416-736-5710
> 4700 Keele Street                               E-mail:    [log in to unmask]
> North York, Ontario
> Canada  M3J 1P3
> On Thu, 5 Dec 1996, Jesse Kalin wrote:
> > I find this response by students as strange and puzzeling as Don.  I have
> > never encountered it, even in "first" film courses, though I can quite
> > imagine that students come to "block out" the (language) sound through
> > their focus on reading.  (This actually is an argument for dubbing, though
> > that's another issue.)  I have used Japanese films extensively, especially
> > Ozu and "Tokyo Story", and a wide range of films other than Kurosawa.  I
> > have always encouraged them to listen to the Japanese and begin to connect
> > it (inflection, tone, etc.) with facial expression, bodily comportment, and
> > the information given in subtitles.  (They have also been encouraged to see
> > the films twice, though most don't, except in response to a specific
> > assignment or for a term paper.)
> >
> > But film is also a strange beast, living as much in our imaginations (and
> > constructed memories, ie., as retold stories--modified, amplified,
> > embellished, etc.
> >
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