It’s no secret that as a whole, films with foreign subtitles are not as popular with the masses as English speaking movies. The internet is rife with complaints about today’s overly expensive sequels, special effects loaded blockbusters and cruddy comedy movie spin-offs. But as much as we all complain, since the slow but steady demise of good cinema, the viewing figures for foreign movies don’t seem to have risen as much as we would expect or indeed, as they would deserve. Well, we want to end all that and with this blog, we’re looking at why you should watch more foreign subtitled films!
Why do people generally avoid watching subtitled movies?
In today’s age, attention spans are changing. People used to have to work for information. Need to learn about video making? Head to the library. Want to watch Coronation Street? No option to skip through the adverts. Nowadays, things are different. People have grown accustomed to having quick, easy access to everything, including communication.
Watching a films with foreign subtitles means… wait for it…
Reading! Yes, you heard it; having to actually look at words and process them into meaningful sentences! Reading subtitles means not looking at your iPad whilst only half paying attention to what is being said in the most recent blockbuster or Netflix series. It means looking at the screen and giving 100% attention to the subtitles in the movie in order to appreciate what is going on. Boy, in today’s day and age, that’s a lot of investment. So why should you bother?
So Why Should You Watch More Foreign Subtitled Films?
Considering watching movies with foreign subtitles means more choice, therefore better quality!
For many native English speakers, foreign movies have a very good reputation as being of a higher quality. By reputation, foreign movies can be seen to have superior story lines, character development and narrative. Some might say this is because Hollywood movies have higher budgets and wind up relying on special effects instead of better plot lines. But we think it’s even more basic than that…
Opening up your movie selection increases your chances of hitting a good one. Remember your granddad used to tell you, “Today’s chart music is rubbish. Music isn’t what it used to be.” These sorts of statements aren’t just about taste and time. It’s about selection. Look back to the seventies and you can no doubt think of hundreds of great songs, but it’s easy to forget that thousands were released during that decade. Out of a larger pool of music, it’s inevitable that it’s easier to find better songs. We only really remember the good ones, and the same goes for foreign movies.
Only the best foreign films really make it across to become popular with global audiences. It’s the difference between sitting through 50 ‘middle of the road’ English speaking Hollywood movies that came out this year, versus selecting the best foreign film (of any language) to come out of any country in the world that same year. It’s just a numbers game – you’re going to find better quality.
Subtitled films improve reading ability
The reading aspect is huge in deterring audiences from watching films with foreign subtitles. In reality, however, reading effort stops being an issue very quickly. For those people who use closed captioning or subtitling regularly, the reading process eventually becomes as natural as listening to audio.
Most deaf and hard of hearing viewers who consistently use subtitles barely even realise they are reading subtitles. Often, it’s only when they go wrong or are poorly written that they are noticed at all. Getting used to reading subtitles is easier than you think and is proven to increase your literacy levels and reading speeds.
Dubbing versus foreign subtitling
An alternative option to subtitles or closed captions is video dubbing. This is where a video editor mutes actors’ voices in a film; replacing them with foreign speech in the target language. While at first glance, this seems like a great idea for opening up accessibility to foreign films, a lot can be lost in translation. Dubbing and voiceovers are not just about sound – they’re about acting. A poorly dubbed movie can utterly spoil a movie. Differences in intonation, volume, areas of silence and vocalisations can alter a viewer’s perception of a character or speaker’s feelings.
Another way of looking at it is that dubbing removes something from the original video, replacing it with something else. Ultimately, this substitution is bound to cause differences to the original film. In contrast, subtitles or closed captions only add to what is already there – speech, sounds, music, identifications, etc.
The original is always better!
Finally, few would disagree that in 99% of cases, the original movie is always better than the remake. By refusing to watch films with foreign subtitles, the only access you can hope to gain to some of the most amazing stories out there is by waiting for the remake or sequel to come out. Just think The Tourist, Taxi, The Grudge or the countless awful remakes of the 1954 Japanese classic, Gojira!
So have we convinced you? If you’re interested in expanding your horizons and enjoying more films with foreign subtitles but you don’t know where to start, check out Empire Online’s list of the 100 Best Films of World Cinema. Alternatively, if you’re interested in using our foreign subtitling services for your videos, contact us for a subtitle quote today!