Friday, June 23, 2017

Foreign films in English

Dustin Hoffman et al in Alfredo, Alfredo (1972), shot without sound in Italy, dubbed in Italian and subtitled in English.

The link above is to an article on foreign films made in English. Lars Von Trier, for example, films everything in English now.

I've said this before, the problems started when they stopped using foreign accents in movies. Roger Corman started it when he made a movie about the Red Baron---he argued that Germans don't speak English with a German accent, so American actors playing Germans should speak English with an American accent, which doesn't make sense either.

Germans speak German with a German accent. So English with a German accent seems like a good compromise.

The Odessa File starred Jon Voight speaking in a phony German accent. Because English with a German accent stood in for German in the movie, he was able to act alongside German actors who spoke English but didn't have perfect American accents.

There was a time when foreign films were dubbed into English and they'd be dubbed with a foreign accent that made them seem more authentic. Dubbing in everything in standard American English is what killed dubbing and made it necessary to film in English.

I should note here that Americans and Japanese prefer subtitles. Europeans including Russians are fine with dubbing. I heard that Latin American teens preferred Beavis and Butt-head subtitled, but I don't know if that extends to different shows and movies.

I watched The Three Musketeers as a kid and was confused because everyone was speaking in a British accent. I knew they were French, but I had to keep reminding myself . One of them travels to England and doesn't understand the language even though he was speaking English the whole time.

Are British audiences confused by American actors speaking in American accents who are supposed to be foreigners speaking foreign languages?

The article linked above suggests the possibility that foreign directors filming in English are trying to get picked up by Hollywood. It could also be that the American market is the most difficult to break into. Americans are too dumb to watch foreign films so filming is English is the only thing that gives them a fighting chance.

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