Can dubbing hurt the quality of a film?

What do you think? Can dubbing a film from a foreign language into your native language hurt the quality of the picture?

Recently I watched the original Oldboy on Netflix. It's an English dub, not the subtitled version I was hoping for. As a personal preference, I like to watch foreign films in their respective languages. I just think it feels a little more natural, but I've never experienced anything quite like the Oldboy dub. It was fucking horrible.

Needless to say, it was so horrible that I think it hurt the quality of the film for me. This film is very interesting and very violent, yet I found myself distracted by the fact that the lead character's speaking voice and his narrating voice sounded totally different. None of the other voices seemed to fit their characters, and it was an overall disappointment on a film I was really looking forward to.

Not all dubs are bad. Life is Beautiful is a film that I've watched the dub more times than the Italian version, and that's okay because everything seems like it fits. Even in anime, I tend to prefer the dubs just because those are the voices I'm used to. But I don't think I've come across a dub as terrible as Oldboy.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on dubbing, and some good and bad dubbing experiences you've had. Please share.

16 comments:

  1. Actual foreign films, I would also much rather watch the subtitled version. The mismatch with the images are bad. And then if you throw a bad voice-actor on top of that, it can really just ruin a film. For some reason no examples are coming to mind.

    Anime on the other hand, I'm perfectly ok with dub.

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    1. I actually really prefer the dub of the Anime, Inuyasha over the subtitled one. I'm looking forward for them to dub the final episodes. (If they ever get around to that.)

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  2. It depends on the film. If it's a martial arts film. I'm fine with that. If it's a drama or a comedy. It doesn't work for met at all. I had an experience with dubbing when I first saw The Conformist. I loved the film but was bothered by the dubbing. When I finally saw the film in its original language, the performances were far more effective and made me love the film even more.

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    1. You're absolutely right about martial arts films. I should've brought that up, those dubs are actually kind of hilarious. I have a feeling when I see Oldboy in it's original language I will love it even more.

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  3. Can't stand dubbing, except for animation. But then again, I come from a country that has subtitles even for English movies, so basically grew up with them.

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    1. I find I watch movies in my native language in subtitles more often than not nowadays. Mostly because my kid is loud.

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  4. For non-English films, I'd prefer them with subtitles. I think the dialogue is part of the viewing process, and if you're distracted by the odd dubbing, it can be off-putting.

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    1. Definitely. Especially when the main character has two different dubbing voices.

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  5. Well, here in Germany they basically dub all movies, so I'm used to it. You rarely happen to see even US productions in their original language in cinema and TV - although I'm not a big fan of it, and definitely prefer watching the originals (with subtitles, if necessary), it's imo bearable.

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    1. I do too. It just feels like it "fits" If they're going to dub, at least try to dub it with an accent. I don't think people in Japan sound like people in freaking Boston or something.

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  6. I agree that I can deal with dubbing when it comes to animated movies because you are not seeing real people. I am pissed that Netflix only has the dubbed version of OldBoy. What a crock of shit

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    1. I know! I've never run into that issue with Netflix before. Every foreign film I've watched has been in it's native language.

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  7. Wow, I didn't know Netflix's version of OldBoy was dubbed. I'll have to watch it on DVD or through some other streaming service then.

    As a rule, I don't watch foreign films dubbed, unless I have no other choice. I think I've only seen one or two dubbed ones, though.

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    1. Yeah, I was warned ahead of time, but man it still ruined it.

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  8. Dubbing is never a good idea for any film at any time. Ever. It's the worst.

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    1. I got called pretentious when I said that on Twitter.

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