Well, honestly, I would like me to ask this question every time I want to go to the cinema.
Before starting, I would like to clarify that through this reflection I do not try to position myself against dubbing or in favor of subtitling. On the contrary, I intend to present a brief comparison between both options and, mainly, to express my opinion about the ease or difficulty to choose in this country.
In Spain, except the large cities, most movie theaters only show films shot in another language in its dubbed version. Except for a few movie theaters dedicated to showing films in the original subtitled version (V.O.S.), normally in large cities. In the rest of the country we have to be satisfied with the dubbed films. I have lived in other bigger cities and I know that you can choose, but where I now reside I have to give thanks for being able to see a movie in V.O.S. a week. And only from October to May, because in summer, nothing. And, although I do not know the situation in all cities, I know that Granada, a land of students, does not offer this option either. We could look for the cause in the Franco era, when the dubbing was imposed to “defend” our language, but this is something far away, right? In other countries, the situation is very different. For example, without having to go far, in Portugal you do not usually fold movies and you can watch movies in V.O.S. both in any movie theater and in your home, although now we can do it at home too. And yes, I know that in Portugal they do so because the subtitling of a film is cheaper than its dubbing, but what happens in the rest of the countries where they do have the economic capacity to double them and they do not? And, if it’s cheaper, would not it be logical that we could watch more movies in its original version?
It would not be difficult for me to explain why I prefer to watch films in their original version, since my life is linked to foreign languages, and it may be easier for me to understand them when they are shot in a language with which I am familiar. On the other hand, watching movies in another language is an obvious tool to learn and improve a foreign language, as well as to become familiar with numerous cultural references linked to the language that is learned. So I understand that someone can tell me that only me and those who speak other languages interests us. But, on the other hand, I love the cinema and, correct me if I’m wrong, when I put myself in the place of other people who like it, or even who dedicate themselves to it, I imagine that they would also prefer to listen to the original voices of their favorite actors, jokes, cultural references or the impact that listening to your own language can have when you are listening to another foreigner, to give some examples, with the credibility that all this entails.
On the other hand, I understand that not all people want to try to understand a joke or cultural reference because, although it is true that subtitling in the best possible way solve such translation problems, the dubbing can be more complete. Or better adapted to the receiver. And this is especially true in this country, where the dubbing will be of great quality, so why would the viewer prefer to see a subtitled film? It is much more comfortable to see them folded. Or not? Because as to me, when I can see a film in its original version, I am accompanied by friends who do not have much idea of English, for example. Or I myself have been able to watch a movie in Japanese, following the images at the same time as the subtitles! And I’m not gifted, I can assure you that. So, at this point, and before continuing, I would like to say that, just as the work of the doublers is always recognized, let us recognize the subtitle translators. Because they also do it very well, of course they do! And, after this spontaneous (or not so spontaneous) recognition, let’s continue where we were going … We said that it is very comfortable to watch the dubbed movies and we prefer to see them subtitled. Do we prefer? Insurance? I ask, because if we prefer something, it is because we have more than one option, but do we have a choice in this aspect? Most of the moviegoers in this country do not have it and, of these, the majority have also become accustomed to the only option they have had. And, although I do not blame those who say they would prefer it that way but do not complain, it is also true that many people have not even considered it and, if they do, most will say that they “prefer” the dubbed cinema. However, what if we had only had access to subtitled movies from the beginning? We would have complained and we would not go to the cinema because it would be difficult to follow the movies? Or, on the contrary, would we have gotten used to it and, therefore, would we prefer it that way? And now I return to the example of our neighboring country: no matter how much I adore the Portuguese, I do not think they have skills that we do not have. You yes? And the Swedes? And the Icelanders?
To finish, I just want to remember that I do not try to convince anyone that one option is better than another, I simply try to make you see that, in many cases, that option does not exist. In my opinion, the absence of options is simply related to the lack of interest that culture has had in this country, both among citizens and among mediocre people who have ruled and governed us. This has been the case, among other reasons, because the fact that we do not have a great access to culture has been quite good until now. As mediocre, they have decided that the most comfortable thing for us is to watch the dubbed movies, as well as listen to shopping malls, advertising and other media, music from the likes of Michel Teló or Justin Bieber, to name a few, instead of another type of music. No offense. Let’s face it, culture has never been an aspect that interests us too much or that is reversed, or vice versa, since this can result in something like a vicious circle: since it does not interest us, it is not reversed; and, since it is not reversed, it does not interest us. And it is that, if we listened with the same frequency to Plácido Domingo or U2 with which we listened -whether or not- to Teló or Bieber, do not you think that we would adore them and hum their music at all times? Or can only good music be understood by musicians and cinema in V.O.S. why do we speak other languages? And so on all aspects of culture. Well I do not think so. On the contrary, I think that we are all equally capable of listening to classical music and being excited, as well as listening to an American actor say I love you, see how the girl who is told to be excited, excited us too, and read I want. And all at the same time. And, if still being able, we prefer to continue listening to Bieber, to listen to actors from all over the world to speak in Spanish, to read sagas about adolescent vampires or to adore Belén Esteban, it seems good to me. I repeat: it seems good to me, as long as we can choose.
For us is not a problem. DUBBING OR SUBTITLING? You decide and we do it