Are subtitled movies better than dubbed ones?

Watching movies in other languages is no longer limited to bespectacled critics. The popularity of movies made in countries that are not necessarily at the heart of mainstream cinema, such as Iran, has given a fresh lease of life to the subtitles vs. dubbed version war!
Going by opinions on discussion forums, in the social media sphere and the cousin who always has an opinion, subtitles win hands down.

But aren’t those tiny words disruptive?!

Most people complain that watching movies with subtitles is like “reading” a movie. But they’re a much better choice than going through the torment of watching our favorite actors mouthing lines, that make them look comical and slightly out of place. Here is our two cents on the sub vs. dub challenge.

Five reasons why subtitles are any day better!

There are a lot many reasons why filmmakers prefer to subtitle their movies, despite the frequent charge that they fight for visual space. Here are five reasons why movies with subtitles still make the cut!

• They are more cost-effective. Subtitles are way cheaper than hiring a pool of talent who charge by the hour!
• Everybody hates the McGurk effect in dubbing. When a character’s lip movements are not in-synch with the dialogs spoken.
• More often than not the emotions are lost when voices are dubbed. Subtitles don’t alter the feel of a movie.
• Listening to the voice of the actor, or original voice actor of a movie, lends it a much natural touch.
• It is quick and easy to subtitle a movie than it is to dub one. And time is money in the world of films.

An official Blog of Video Transcription Star


3 thoughts on “Are subtitled movies better than dubbed ones?

  1. I agree, and for me…. once you have been watching a subtitled film for a while you almost “forget” that they are there – not literally of course but you get the idea…. I recently had the chance to watch Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon again with dubbing having originally see the subtitled version. I couldn’t watch it and had to turn it off – says it all really.

  2. Even though I’m a voice actor, I personally prefer subtitles. But as for ‘McGurk’ lip-sync, we are all inoculated to it being way off, even on live material, thanks to YouTube and national digital TV!

  3. I don’t think you can make general rules. It depends on the style. If it’s a very simple product like the Nugus Martin history or how it works video essays then it becomes native to any language by re- voicing the VO. If there is little or no VO, ie mostly fly on the wall then subtitles are good. Sometimes it could be a mix of subtitles and re voicing; Ice Road Truckers would respond better to subtitles and regionalised VO.

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