I mentioned it in one of my earlier posts on this blog and it has become somewhat of a pet peeve of mine: dubbing.
Dubbing is described as
“the post-production process of recording and replacing voices on a motion picture or television soundtrack subsequent to the original shooting […]. The term most commonly refers to the substitution of the voices of the actors shown on the screen by those of different performers, who may be speaking a different language. […]
Foreign-language films, videos and sometimes video games are often dubbed into the local language of their target markets to increase their popularity with the local audience by making them more accessible” (from Wikipedia)
Most of my English speaking readers, you probably won’t understand what the big deal is, because you don’t do dubbing in this country. Which, I would like to emphasize, is very smart (for the most part). You use subtitles.
Germans are lazy and to read subtitles is strenuous, so somebody decided that it would be a good idea to dub movies. Did you know that Germany is the effin’ capital of dubbing in Europe? It’s embarrassing, really.
“Dubbing films has been and is still tradition and common practice in the German speaking area since subtitles are not accepted and used as much as in other European countries. According to a European study, Austria is the country with the highest rejection with regard to using subtitles, followed by Italy, Spain and Germany.”
In Germany, Austria and the German speaking part of Switzerland, practically all films, shows, television series and foreign soap operas are shown in dubbed versions created for the German market. (from Wikipedia)
Oh, it irritates me like nobody’s business. I mean, just imagine, when I came to the US and watched a lot of movies that I had previously seen dubbed in German and finally heard the original voices of some of the actors, I felt like “Uh, ah, cover your ears, this sounds terrible” only realizing a minute later that those were, in fact, the actors’ real voices and that I had completely different voices associated with the actors and actresses. It’s quiet disturbing to be honest, but I guess the following explains it:
“Famous foreign actors are known and recognized for their German voice and the German audience is used to them, so dubbing is also a matter of authenticity.” (from Wikipedia)
What bothers me though is that the German voices often don’t resemble the original voices of the actors/actresses. I give you a (really bad!) example.
As some of you might now, I am a big Sex and the City fan. I’ve only started watching it when I came to the US (and I have watched all seasons, some of them more than once!) and therefore only know the original voices of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte.
I know, SATC is not everyone’s cup of tea and I understand that. I still was very surprised when I talked to a friend in Germany, who told me that she really had no idea why I liked this series, that she found it to be horrible and annoying.
Later I found out the (possible) reason for her distaste and here is why: the dubbed German version is absolutely appalling. Not only is the translation of the dialogs really bad, but the dubbing companies didn’t even bother to try and find anybody whose voices would resemble those of the girls’.
Carrie’s original voice for example is pretty unique and kind of rough. Her German counterpart is high pitch and squeaky and absolutely annoying to listen to. I cannot for the life of me understand who in the world was responsible for giving Sarah Jessica Parker this squeaky German voice. Miranda’s voice is totally off as well. No wonder people are turned off by it.
Besides that, another thing that just simply sucks about dubbing is how much content is lost between the two languages. Yes, fine, I understand that there is no one-to-one translation for a lot of things and with dubbing, you also have to deal with limited time frames to match the lip movements with the substituted voice. But for heaven’s sake, do a better job already or don’t do it at all.
(The same applies to the reserve process as well – even though foreign films are usually not dubbed here, only subtitled, the subtitles are sometimes really really bad translations from the original. Even J has noticed that before when we were watching a German movie and the subtitles didn’t quite measure up to what was actually said/conveyed in the scene.)
But then, I also read that …
German dubbed versions sometimes diverge greatly from the original, especially adding humorous elements to the original. In extreme cases, like The Persuaders!, the dubbed version was more successful than the English original. Often it also adds sexually explicit gags the U.S. versions might not be allowed to use, like in Bewitched, translating “The Do-not-disturb sign will hang at the door tonight” to “The only hanging thing tonight will be the Do-not-disturb sign”. (from Wikipedia)
I guess there can be an upside to everything after all :)