Thursday, July 15, 2010

Favorite media moan: Dubbing

You know this feeling:
You are done – you feel stressed, tired, grumpy, thin-skinned. You are ready for vacation. That’s me right now. But no need for compassion – I am leaving for Croatia in less than 24 hours and will relax for two full weeks *happy dance*!

What I realize, when I am in this state of mind, is that I become impatient and things I can usually live with get really, really annoying.

In this bad mood I was lately watching TV - an episode of a TV show I usually like – and it was again so bad, that I had to break out in one of my favorite moans and decided to share it with you:


I am talking about TV shows and movies transferred into German language in a long, complicated and expensive process to make international productions easier to enjoy for the audience – something which is totally unusual in many other countries like The Netherlands or Croatia for example (lucky you, folks!)

I mean … there is a good part in it – dubbing is a nice way for poorly paid theater actors to make a living.
And of course watching something in your native language is more relaxed than struggling with weird accents in foreign languages and trying to read the subtitles at the same time, but people I tell you:
It’s so worth the effort!
I will tell my first and favorite example why:

A long time ago a dear friend of mine told me, that he is a huge fan of the sitcom “Friends”, but I kept telling him “Watch, what you like to watch, but let me tell you: That stuff is not funny.”
He thought that I was a fool, but since he is very smart he quickly guessed the problem, sat down and copied a big bunch of his original “Friends” tapes (English with Croatian subtitles) for me and sent them over.
I got the parcel, opened it – and went to work the next day with dark shadows under my eyes because I did not sleep at all.

I had watched “Friends” the whole night and laughed my ass off. I’ll quote you one of my favorite parts:
Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) wants to go to a sold out show of Sting so badly, that she starts stalking his wife Trudie Styler faking that she is the aunt of Sting’s son’s schoolmate. She tells that the boys have a problem she needs to discuss with Trudie. Of course Sting’s wife realizes quickly that Phoebe is just a stalker who wants tickets for the show and says “You better leave now or I call the police.” And Phoebe smiles brightly in excitement and asks: “Really? THE POLICE? A REUNION?!?!?!”

And now go and dub this into German! See?

You can transfer these examples to every TV show or movie you may like:
Sex & The City's Mr. Big / Chris Noth is so much more charming when you let him speak for himself.
“Meet the Fockers” – even in German kind of funny – will KILL you when you listen to the original cast giving its BEST.
Or on the very other hand take Danis Tanović's Oscar winning drama „No Man’s Land“ – this fantastic movie becomes almost pointless when the dialogues in the diverse languages are dubbed all in German.

You get the point:
If you never tried it you maybe won’t realize, but dubbing changes everything in a movie or TV show. The meaning, the tone, the relationships between the characters, ... everything. It kills off half of the work of the actors and writers and leaves only a shadow of the original production behind.

I know – I will neither change the German media system nor the watching habits of my fellow German people. But maybe I can encourage you to choose the next time you go to the cinema the original version with subtitles or pick when you watch a DVD not automatically “German” from the language menu.

I promise you:
even if you do not get every single word the difference is really, really worthwhile!

And speaking of positive side effects:

That lovely gentleman, who sent me the “Friends” tapes, is amazingly fluent in Croatian (his native language), English, German and Spanish without going to language school – blame it to Satellite TV and the absence of dubbing on Croatian channels!

Or when I attended a wedding a few weeks ago a friend of the bride talked to an American guest in a beautiful fluent English with a very cool NYC accent. When the US guy asked if she had lived overseas, she just laughed and said: “Never been to the States, but I LOOOOOOVE “Sex and The City” - in the original version.”

So watching TV does not necessarily make you stupid – you just need to do it right.

Give it a try :)

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