There are certain things in film watching that drives me nuts.  Continuity issues, equipment sightings, unsynchronized dialogue etc.  But none of those compare to bad dubbing.

I understand that over dubbing is some what of a necessity.  Growing up in the 80’s, I’ve watched my fair share of badly dubbed marital arts movies.  But when I sat down to watch those, I expected it to be silly and cheesy.  What I’m talking about here is sitting down to watch a serious movie, and expecting subtitles, preferring subtitles really, and getting a truly horrifying English dub job.

Yesterday I sat down to FINALLY watch “Let the Right One In”.  A film that my peers and colleagues have been raving about for months. I was so excited because, at last, I was able sit down, uninterrupted and watch this amazing film.  I received the Blu-Ray copy from Netflix (a US DVD rental-by-mail program)and automatically assumed it would be a subtitled version.  Because do they really dub movies in English anymore?  Especially ones so critically acclaimed?  No, they wouldn’t dare!  Right??  WRONG!

The first word spoken, I knew I was in trouble.  Just by hearing “Squeal”. My heart sank.  I quickly grabbed the remote to check the settings thinking, “No, this can’t be right!”  After plowing through the menus and settings, I had to face the facts.  If I wanted to watch this film, I had to endure the horrendous dub job.

I’ve have had several debates about watching subtitled films.  The typical argument is “Why do you want to read a movie”. To which I reply, “because that’s how it’s supposed to be!”.  If a movie is filmed in another language, that is how it should be viewed.  When a movie is over dubbed, you lose the inflection in the characters voices, the nuances of speech and the feeling of emotion that comes with the dialogue and progression of the story.  That is not what the director intended, so therefore, my stance will always be on the side of subtitles.

I’ve heard so much regarding Let the Right One In and how it’s not a “vampire movie” at all.  It’s a film that deals with the budding relationship of 2 young kids. Ok, in all fairness, one just appears to be young.  But that’s neither here nor there.  In this case, it was imperative that I hear the actual actor’s voices.  So much was lost in the dubbing the movie really meant nothing to me.  And for that, I’m so disappointed.

I wanted to love this movie and feel all of the appreciation that I’ve heard about.  But alas, the bad dubbing disengaged me to the point where it was a struggle to get through the whole thing.  There was one character, the school yard bully, whose over dubbed voice sounded female.  If there was any sign of his characters’ intimidation in the delivery of his lines, it was lost.  Also lost were any tones of affection between Oskar and Eli as their relationship progressed.

Bad dubbing can truly kill the spirit of a film and Let the Right One In is pure evidence of that.  As I sat on my couch and complained about it via Twitter, I was sent something saying it could be worse.  I was sent a link to this article from the website.  This was posted back in March, but it was actually the first I’ve heard of it.  Apparently the US DVD / Blu-Ray copies, the subtitles have been slaughtered and changed to point of losing the films context. I won’t go into detail on that here, you can head over there to read the full article if you’re interested.  At least I can say the dubbing seems to have followed the actual script and not the washed out US subtitled version, and for that I’m grateful….I guess.

Suffice it to say, I was unhappy once the film ended.  I’m hoping to revisit this again, with a non dubbed version so I can watch it in it’s entirety the way it was meant to be seen. Perhaps then, I’ll develop the appreciation that I was lacking with this viewing.

Do you have any pet peeves when watching a film?  Let us know in the comments.