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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Aberdeen chapter.

Why Movie Dubbing Should Be Abandoned 

Until I was about 13, I never questioned that every movie I ever watched was always in my native language, German. I knew that a lot of the movies on TV or in the cinema were originally American, and I knew that they were dubbed. There was nothing unusual about this for me, until I was on a vacation in the Netherlands with my dad, who due to disastrous weather, took me to the cinema to see the new Harry Potter in English. My English was quite good at that point and since Dutch is so close to German, I understood most of the subtitles. Still, this experience was completely weird to me. It made no sense for me that the movie wasn’t dubbed; how would non-English speakers understand? Even worse, a lot of the names for the Dutch version had been changed, which made the whole thing more confusing. Only later, when I started watching movies and TV shows primarily in English and spoke to people from countries which didn’t dub their films, did this idea start to be a lot more appealing to me.

No surprise, it is mainly the bigger European countries that supply movies with their own voices: Germany, France, Italy and so on. Most Scandinavian countries, just like the Netherlands, rely on subtitles to translate the dialogue that is going on. And those countries, again, no surprise, are generally the best at speaking English. This makes complete sense to me. I would definitely say that what helped me most in learning English was not school, but watching movies with the original audio on. In our globalized world, speaking good English is essential, and watching English movies from a young age can definitely help with that. It is not only this which has started to annoy me about movie dubbing, though, granted, most modern films and TV shows do a pretty good job of translating what was being said. With old films, however, you sometimes can’t help but cringe at the terrible translation. Obviously, a lot of the meaning, like language-specific jokes get lost in the process. Remember Scotty from Star Trek, who in his Scottish accent spoke about a “very wee door?” The German film industry didn’t pick up on the fact that he was talking about a small door and translated it to a “pee door”, which makes no sense whatsoever… ouch. Another thing which can be just plain strange is the use of voice actors for different roles. Normally, one actor would have one German counterpart who would voice all of that actor’s characters. Sometimes, however, they decide to randomly change that and an actor you thought you know suddenly has a completely different voice, which doesn’t exactly add to the authenticity of the movie. It is just as odd, on the other hand, to hear that sultry character on the big screen speak with the voice of that kid detective you used to listen to in your favourite radio dramas at the age of five.

Sometimes, it can be really comforting to watch your favourite guilty pleasure drama show in your native language, but in general, seeing as a lot of countries seem to have no problem with it, I think that we ought to stop dubbing our films.

Thankfully, with the rise of Netflix and more and more people choosing to watch programmes and movies in their original language, the market is adapting. There are screenings of films in English now even in the bigger cinemas, and I can only say that I wouldn’t mind if this was a dying industry.