First off I didn’t know that Studio Ghibili had one more film up their sleeves in the form of The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (2013) which visually reminds me loosely of My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999), thats not the point of why I’m posting tonight. Wanting to add to Mark Kermode’s video on the issue of subtitles, which I myself have gotten used to. It takes time to adjust to foreign language film. The nearest I got before was probably a few scenes where the baddies were talking amongst themselves. I’ve touched on the theme a few times already this years. Most recently with The Return of a Man Called Horse (1976) which was poor subtitled, constantly reminding me I was listening to Sioux, not another language. Also Yurusarezaru mono/Unforgiven (2013) was had its share of subtitle issues, having white text in the snow, bit of no brainer really.
Still Kermode’s post was about the original foreign film versus dubbed version. Thankfully I’ve only really seen the Studio Ghibli’s which have been treated rather well, some under the supervision of Walt Disney Studio’s. In the past even the English language versions have been criticised by Hayao Miyazaki has criticised them (probably the earlier ones). Personally I have seen various versions of these films, sometimes wishing for the original, getting used to the speed that the dialogue is delivered. I maybe re-watching a few again in the original Japanese of Film4 next month, wanting to experience the original language. Its like seeing work in a gallery, when you see it in the flesh, its the best feeling ever, to experience it’s aura, how it was intended to be seen. Of course subtitles aren’t for everyone, kids need the dubbed versions to even engage with the film or they are lost, thankfully more recently the dubbing is done with care.
I know that spaghetti westerns were rife of dubbing, but that i feel is part of the fabric. Italian made, a homage to an English language genre, which is dubbed for an international English speaking audience. I’m used to this, seeing it as part of the fabric, films made quick with international casts, there was no time to get the language right, match it up later in the recording studio. Makes sense when they turned out so many.
Another plus to subtitles is that the audience can and has to be more engaged if they really care about it. You really take a chance to half-watch a foreign film and still understand it. Something I feel I did with City of God (2006) recently, still enjoying the film that had so much to offer beyond the Portuguese language. And that is the sign of true lover of film, someone who can get beyond the language barrier and see and enjoy the plot. Having a film in its original language you are really accepting it experiencing it as the film-makers intended.