Posted at 4:37 PM on March 17, 2008
by Euan Kerr
For reasons I really can't remember, I decided to check out "High Tension" recently. Or rather "Haute Tension."
Actually I do remember now, it was because it stars Cecile de France, the winsome star of "Avenue Montaigne." "Montaigne" is a charming gentle comedy in the vein of "Amilie" and I was intrigued as to how de France would handle a slasher flick.
So I slapped it in the DVD and was taken aback to see the movie not only had titles in English, the actors were chatting away in English too. Clearly the manufacturers believe their audience, that would be the gorehounds, will find French insupportable.
Dubbed movies always seem strange to me. I'm not conscious of watching people's mouths until the sounds I hear don't match the movements of the lips. Then it becomes an obsession.
If you are not watching the movie closely, perhaps it doesn't matter, but I am genuinely curious as to whether there is anyone who would choose to watch a dubbed movie if there was a subtitled version available.
A few moments with the DVD controls returned "High Tension" to its mother tongue, and the bloody silliness of the plot.
All in all it just reminded me why I don't like slasher flicks, too much tension for a predictable payoff.
I lived in Italy for a number of years, and they have a very extensive dubbing industry for foreign films. I found it to be quite well done. This enabled me to see and enjoy several excellent films -- from Africa, Iran, China, Japan, Russia, etc. -- that rarely make it into circulation in the United States.
I cringe every time the dubbed version of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" gets shown on cable. The voices are more distracting than the mismatched mouth movements.
For some reason people just do a crappy job of dubbing *into* English--don't know whether that originates with the foreign producers or the US/UK distributors. The Germans, on the other hand, do an amazing job of dubbing--I saw dozens of American/British movies on German TV and in theaters and they were awesomely well done. Even _My Fair Lady_, songs and all! _The Simpsons_ too--which is very hard to keep up with. If into-English dubbing reached the same level of quality (pacing, acting, appropriate choice of voices), I might choose that over subtitles, but not until then.