/ Is watching subtitled films cultured?

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andrew breckill - on 15 Mar 2013
Just asking cos I drive the mrs mad with my European and further away film fetish, working my way through films like babettes feast, one upon a time in Anatolia, delicacy etc.
yorkshireman - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to andrew breckill:

Define 'cultured'.

Depends on the film.

I really enjoyed The Killing, Borgen, The Bridge, Spiral etc, but did wonder to myself whether they 'seemed' better because I couldn't pick up the nuances of the foreign-speaking actors? Could they just seem like CSI or some other mass-crud to a native?

Why does it matter?
paul-1970 - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to andrew breckill:
Definitely not.

The perception often is that, though, from people who don't watch films with subtitles. And is sometimes encouraged from pretentious arses like myself who like to give others the impression that I am more cultured than they are ;) "Have you seen 'Skyfall' yet, Paul?" "No, I'm still working my way through my collection of Michael Hanneke films..."

Often too, because many foreign films are presented or styled differently to the American 'norm', there may be allegations of 'cultured crap' or 'highbrow nonsense'.

What did drive me mad, or at least made me wonder, was a colleague of mine in our office. She was having a conversation with another colleague who was recommending a film to her. She was interested right up until the colleague said "Oh, and it has subtitles". Then instantly the shutters came down and she dismissively replied "Meh, I don't watch those kind of films."
tintinandpip - on 15 Mar 2013
Only if you can read !!
FrankBooth - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to andrew breckill:
Many Scandinavian films from the 70s don't require subtitles.
andrew breckill - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to FrankBooth: lowering the tone frank, they do however have quite funny dubbed soundtracks.

Why the question or why it matters?, just wondered if I could give her a smart arse answer next time she whines about it. Although last time she did say she quite likes ithem now as its like reading a book where someone's acting out the words for you. She's special and I'm lucky to have her.
David Martin - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to andrew breckill:

More often than not subtitled films tend to be slightly darker, anti-heroic and more troubled than Hollywood crud. As a result they can be less predictable and obviously they sit slightly out of the normal film (dis)comfort zone. That, to me, makes them slightly more cultured and enjoyable.

The un-subtitled 70s Swedish genre alluded to earlier is alive and well and the Germans were equally adept at producing such marvels.
Jon Stewart - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to andrew breckill:

Yes.

If you watch foreign films, you only get access to the ones that have international appeal, not the ones which are fluff. These films are available internationally because they're of interest to people who actually like film, rather than people who enjoy going to the cinema or getting a DVD to be being pacified for a couple of hours with mindless drivel.

Paul - enjoy your Michael Hanneke collection, his films are brilliant. While you're at it, watch Festen if you've never seen it. Total genius.
paul-1970 - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to andrew breckill)
>
> Paul - enjoy your Michael Hanneke collection, his films are brilliant. While you're at it, watch Festen if you've never seen it. Total genius.

I am enjoying my collection of Hanneke films (the ones in the Artificial Eye collection), it was more a 'mopping-up' exercise of some that I hadn't seen. I am a fan of his, but I do find the recurring motif that the films are often more about the experience of the characters, rather than the story, a little frustrating. One senses the credits will be rolling soon and once again the story plot will be secondary to what we've observed of teh reactions of the actors.

JayPee630 - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to paul-1970:

It's all culture. Just of varying types. Nothing inherently better in subtitled films, just perception of the dominant posh culture that you're more intelligent than the masses watching Hollywood blockbusters.
Tall Clare - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to andrew breckill:

I don't think so - it just means I watch films I might not otherwise see.

Key problem is that it's hard to eat your dinner in front of such films because you have to pay proper attention to what's going on on screen rather than relying on being able to understand the dialogue :-)
Jon Stewart - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to JayPee630:
> (In reply to paul-1970)
>
> It's all culture. Just of varying types.

True.

> Nothing inherently better in subtitled films,

except that they're a selected bunch from a wider pool of films

> just perception of the dominant posh culture that you're more intelligent than the masses watching Hollywood blockbusters.

I know it's not the kind of thing that's very nice to say, and smacks of snobbery and whatnot, but there's an objective truth lurking behind this that could be identified. You could get a sample of people who regularly watch films with subtitles and a sample of people who avoid watching films with subtitles and either give them all an IQ test, or look at what qualifications they hold (or use another proxy measure for intelligence). It would also be of interest to identify them in terms of socio-economic groups. The results would tell you with a fair degree of reliability whether people who watch foreign films are cleverer and posher than people who only watch Hollywood shite that's made entirely for commercial rather than artistic motivations.
DNS on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to Tall Clare:
> (In reply to andrew breckill)
>
>... you have to pay proper attention to what's going on on screen ...


I think that's an important point.

I have better recall of the plot in subtitled films for just that reason; you have to concentrate a bit.
JayPee630 - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Haha, like your idea of a survey, but would be impossible I'm afraid as there would be too many variables, such as whether people watch them out of some other motive (to be perceived as intellectual, or peer group pressure for example).

And people watch both types anyway!
MJ - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to Tall Clare:

Key problem is that it's hard to eat your dinner in front of such films because you have to pay proper attention to what's going on on screen rather than relying on being able to understand the dialogue :-)

You could always buy a bib...
John Rushby - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to andrew breckill:

In my house it's subtitles all the way because the other half is gabbling on about whatever occupies the inside of a ginger person's head.

It kind of spoils the film when afer an hour of the same she takes a breath and says "and the other reason I really like the The Specials is becuase...."
paul-1970 - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to Tall Clare:
> (In reply to andrew breckill)

> Key problem is that it's hard to eat your dinner in front of such films...

I always had visions of cultured dinner table serenity in the Clare-household. Only the clinking of crystal glass and the unfolding of linen napkins breaking the peace of dinner a'deux. Another bubble burst...

andrew breckill - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to paul-1970: lol, me to Paul, eats dinner whilst watching, I am genuinely shocked.
Skyfall - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to andrew breckill:

I'm still not sure why you think watching subtitled films is somehow cultured. It does, I suppose, open up a broader range of films but you do pay the penalty of having to read subtitles. OK, you get used to it quite quickly, but it's not ideal.

And the supposed 'better' foreign versions aren't always. Maybe I'm just too uncultured but I didn't get why everyone thought Nikita was better than The Assassin. For example.
LaMentalist on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to andrew breckill:

I generally watch subtitled films for mental stimulation , emotiveness & interesting original plots .

I mostly watch big budget hollywood films when I want to switch off my brain , dribble a bit whilst eating junk food .

In reply to a survey relating to viewing habits I would have to concede that I am working class & fick as feck but that doesn't mean that I don't require cerebral stimulation occasionally & the junk food is strictly of the freerange organic variety as are the special weekend woodbines .
Douglas Griffin - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to Tall Clare:

It's odd how attitudes to subtitles seem to vary between countries.

From what I've seen in Norway, a high percentage of their TV seems to be English-language (British or American) with Norwegian subtitles. It's no wonder their English is so good. Like a lot of people we've been watching* a fair bit of Danish programmes recently (The Killing, Borgen) and already we are picking up a smattering of Danish words and phrases.

*while eating dinner :-) Aye, we do it too.

In France it's very different - subtitled TV is very rare; it's almost always dubbed. I will never get over seeing Taggart on French TV, dubbed. - "Il y a eu un meurtre...
andrew breckill - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to Skyfall: well I don't, I asked if it was. I like watching them as there is a subtle or not so subtle difference to the experience. Some times I just enjoy the fact that the film is shot in a certain style, or the cultural differences that manifest themselves.
ice.solo - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to andrew breckill:

anyone else been affected by 'white table syndrome': common with eastern european films from tthe 70s where characters spent a lot of time sitting at tables with white table clothes which made the white subtitles hard to see?
part of the fun.

9/10 foreign language films are the only thing worth watching.

anyone whos lived in australia may recall the sbs station. my favourite channel on earth.
Blue Straggler - on 15 Mar 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
>
>
> If you watch foreign films, you only get access to the ones that have international appeal, not the ones which are fluff. These films are available internationally because they're of interest to people who actually like film, rather than people who enjoy going to the cinema or getting a DVD to be being pacified for a couple of hours with mindless drivel.
>

Exactly. People always seem to miss this point. Whenever I'm in a continental European city, I make sure to eye up the cinema posters, billboard ads etc. There looks to be some UTTER RUBBISH being churned out by (say) the French film industry. Most British people who say "I love French cinema, it's so much better than Hollywood pap" actually mean that they love the 5% of highbrow art-house French cinema that they've been exposed to. If we only exported stuff like Mike Leigh's "Naked" or Andrea Arnold's "Wuthering Heights", the British film industry would seem really arty and highbrow too!

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