Everybody has a preference when it comes to watching films and interacting with them. No one feels the need to impose on others to like what they like and vice versa. More times than not people prefer watching dubbed films than watching subtitled films. I won’t deny the fact that watching a perfectly dubbed film is 10/10 the best way to watch a film as compared to when you have to follow the movie through with subtitles.
Dubbing and subtitling fall under the same umbrella which is film localization. Localization is localizing content to fit the cultural, linguistic, and technical aspects of a locale. Depending on what the language in play is, we can conclude that localization is a process that converts content from a source language into a target language.
This makes Film localization, converting films from one language into another language. These languages are always referred to as “Source language” and “target language.”
Source language is the original language that the film or content is being dubbed from while the target language is the language the film or content is being dubbed into.
Basically, localization is translation, and that is why dubbing and subtitling fall under it.
Dubbing– this is translating a whole audio-visual speech from one language to another.
Subtitling– this is translating an audio video into another language in a text format which are later placed at the bottom of the screen on a film.
In this article, we will look at some facts that make subtitled films better than dubbed films.
Before I even get started, I can hear the spinning wheels in your head wondering how can subtitling be better than dubbing? In what world? Well, everyone and their mum don’t enjoy watching subtitled films because of the hustle that goes into keeping up with the texts at the bottom of the screen instead of enjoying the film itself. There are people who would choose this struggle and to each their own but that’s not why we are here today.
We will get straight it the facts.
1. Respect For Actor’s Talents
When creating subtitles, Nothing and I mean absolutely nothing is taken away from the original film. What this means is that the film is presented to its audience the same way it was intended to be presented to them but with a little dash of text here and there. For some people, this dash of texts might be a problem, but if you are the people who respect talent and love to see it in its most real form, then you won’t mind these texts as long as you can get the raw and real emotions of the actors who played the original films in their foreign languages. Dubbing doesn’t really take this into consideration. This is because a dubbed film differs completely from the original film that is being dubbed. There is the introduction of new voices from voice actors, the music and effects also change and so many other things that I won’t mention in this post. Dubbing a film is like creating a whole other film in another language which beats the logic because if it is not dubbed well, then you risk your film feeling and sounding like a second-generation type of film.
I stand to be corrected, if I’m watching a film that Brad Pitt is acting on, I don’t want to see his visuals and listen to another person’s voice. I’m watching the film for a full hands-on experience and subtitling is the only film localization method that will guarantee this for me. People might argue that there are good voice actors out there who can bring it on and do their best when voicing a Brad Pitt scene. I agree 100% on that but it still takes away from the original feeling of hearing Brand Pitt’s voice on his own scenes.
2. Maintains Ambience
There are very many reasons films are created. There are films that are specifically created for the mood and ambiance they set, others are created for the thrill of the plot twist and others are set for creating, exploring, and developing a character. Subtitling maintains the mood of the original film without adding or removing any aspect from it. Have you ever watched a movie where you get lost in the mood and ambiance because that is exactly how it was intended to be received originally, and then you watch the dubbed version of that film and wonder why you are not getting that same feeling from it?
There is a simple explanation for that. The minute dubbing is introduced on a film and different voices are placed over such a scene, the original feel and ambiance will be lost. That doesn’t happen for subtitling because the only thing added to the original film is texts that further emphasize the mood without taking away or adding anything to it.
If you are the person who loves immersing yourself in a film and feeling all the moods and emotions, then better stick to subtitled films because dubbed films won’t be as exciting.
3. Language And How It Sounds Is Part Of A Film
As we have already noted, dubbing changes the audio language of the original film into a totally different language. There are people who would love their favorite films to be dubbed into a whole new language so that they don’t have to keep up with reading subtitles which is a very valid reason. While on the same, it is good to note that there are films that are a representation of a culture and if changed into another language, then the intended message will not be relayed well. Subtitling makes sure that the original language of the film is maintained and remains the same and the only thing that is added is the translated version of the film as subtitles.
A classic example of a film whose original language makes it even more captivating and interesting is the Spanish film “Lacasa De Papel” which is loosely translated into “Money Heist” in its English version.
I have watched the dubbed version of the film, and I have also watched the subtitled version. If you ask me, I enjoyed the subtitled version more than the dubbed one because of how intense and raw the emotions are when listening to the actors acting in their Original Language. Dubbing takes this all away because the different languages that films get dubbed into won’t keep the intensity and rawness of the original language. The language contributes a texture as intentional as the costumes and as indispensable as the mise-en-scène. It matches the colors and patterns, the locations, even the themes of the film. Or, sometimes, it deliberately contrasts with them. Language is not an arbitrary means of communication. It carries aesthetic weight.
4. Expose Viewers To Foreign Languages
Nowadays everybody is trying to learn a foreign language and watching subtitled films in the languages you want to learn will really come in handy. This is not the case for dubbed films because the original languages are usually completely changed. Subtitled films usually give you a point of comparison because the audio will be in the foreign language you are learning and the subtitled texts will be in the language that you already understand. This makes it really easy for someone to watch a film while still learning a new language.
If you are someone who is taking up a foreign language, will watch subtitled film in that foreign language because it will expose you more to it.
With that said, you can now tell why subtitled films are better than dubbed films. Not everyone will agree with this but people who know the art of film production and everything that goes into it creating a film know why subtitled film will always be better than dubbed films.