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THE KILLING, a hit in the UK for less money


 

Tonight at 9 AMC premieres its latest acclaimed drama, The Killing, a remake of another acclaimed drama, the Danish series Forbrydelsen (It’s a procedural drama about a single case spread out over a season, with a Veronica Mars/Twin Peaks type of murder plot, but taking place in a major city — Copenhagen in the original, Seattle in the remake. With the added twist that the season takes place in a compressed amount of time and each episode is similarly compressed).

But here’s an interesting side note to this, especially in view of the timing: while AMC was preparing its U.S. remake, the BBC started showing the original version, with subtitles, in the UK — and it became a big hit (by BBC4 standards, at least), with more viewers than Mad Men. The article talks about how original-language shows from continental Europe, with subtitles, have become more accepted in England in the last few years. And in a little dig at the U.S.’s continued need for remakes, a BBC executive says that they have no plans to buy the U.S. version:

“I don’t think we will acquire it,” said Sue Deeks, the BBC’s head of acquisitions. “It seems very close to the original version. I don’t think we’d get the same response twice.”

I don’t point this out to berate AMC for making a new version; it’s simply a fact that they’ll get more viewers for their new version than they would if they showed the original — plus, of course, they and the original producers alike stand to make a lot of money if the new version is a hit. English-language remakes of movies and TV are a longstanding tradition and there’s no point in getting huffy about it. It’s just fun that as AMC prepares to see whether viewers in the U.S. and Canada will embrace the new The Killing, the old version has been embraced by another English-language country, without even the necessity of dubbing it.

Of course, most countries still do dub TV shows (and movies), and I sometimes think it’s healthier for a country to embrace dubbing. It’s very unnatural to watch a film or TV show with subtitles, not picking up the dialogue as we hear it, and not connecting the sounds of the words to their meaning. What a show loses from dubbing it gains in immediacy. But, of course, in countries where dubbing is fully accepted, it’s serious business — a lot of work is done on it. (Not just countries, either; some Quebec dubs are very good.) English language countries have never really accepted dubbing, and it’s mostly been second-rate.

Anyway, here’s a preview of the original The Killing as it was seen in Germany: dubbed, of course, into German.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLKqomHEkqY


 
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THE KILLING, a hit in the UK for less money

  1. When I lived in France the general case was movies were subtitled and bad television series (and other things shown on t.v.) were dubbed. Of course one could see dubbed movies as well but if you enjoyed cinema as opposed to watched movies then you went to see a subtitled movie – bien entendu.

    Personally I prefer subtitled movies as I feel it gives a clearer indication of the acting job and allows the emotions of the actor to come through.

  2. When I lived in France the general case was movies were subtitled and bad television series (and other things shown on t.v.) were dubbed. Of course one could see dubbed movies as well but if you enjoyed cinema as opposed to watched movies then you went to see a subtitled movie – bien entendu.

    Personally I prefer subtitled movies as I feel it gives a clearer indication of the acting job and allows the emotions of the actor to come through.

  3. Dubbing strips the emotion out any film.
    It's not hard to read and watch, well it isn't in any country that has a decent education system that at the very least teaches kids to read and write. Maybe it's a sad indictment of the intelligence of the average American theatre goer.
    Watch as they screw up the Girl with… series

  4. Dubbing strips the emotion out any film.
    It's not hard to read and watch, well it isn't in any country that has a decent education system that at the very least teaches kids to read and write. Maybe it's a sad indictment of the intelligence of the average American theatre goer.
    Watch as they screw up the Girl with… series

    • It's not hard to read and watch, but it does take something away from the experience as it was intended. Many filmmakers preferred dubbing to subtitling for that reason — Alfred Hitchcock said that a film "loses 15% of its impact when it's subtitled and 10% when it's well dubbed." (And that's not even getting into Italian films like 8½ where everything is dubbed in every version.) The fact that we can read doesn't change the fact that reading a translation of what was said is a somewhat different experience from understanding what is said.

      The ideal thing, of course, is to learn more languages, but since I haven't done that all I can do for the most part is choose between two flawed options, dubbing and subtitling. I prefer subtitling but I feel it's arguable that good dubbing creates a more enveloping experience. It's very much the same argument that's made about subtitles vs. translation at the opera.

      • You hit the nail on the head with the standard "Good Dubbing."
        Good dubbing would be fine, but I haven't watched many films that had good dubbing. I've watched European films and catch on to phrases and words pretty quickly. The Sub-continent is tougher but even there I'd rather have the emotion in the original and read. Dubbing rarely conveys the original emotion.
        Also most subtitled films I watch I own which allows one to grow an appreciation.

  5. It's not hard to read and watch, but it does take something away from the experience as it was intended. Many filmmakers preferred dubbing to subtitling for that reason — Alfred Hitchcock said that a film "loses 15% of its impact when it's subtitled and 10% when it's well dubbed." (And that's not even getting into Italian films like 8½ where everything is dubbed in every version.) The fact that we can read doesn't change the fact that reading a translation of what was said is a somewhat different experience from understanding what is said.

    The ideal thing, of course, is to learn more languages, but since I haven't done that all I can do for the most part is choose between two flawed options, dubbing and subtitling. I prefer subtitling but I feel it's arguable that good dubbing creates a more enveloping experience. It's very much the same argument that's made about subtitles vs. translation at the opera.

  6. You hit the nail on the head with the standard "Good Dubbing."
    Good dubbing would be fine, but I haven't watched many films that had good dubbing. I've watched European films and catch on to phrases and words pretty quickly. The Sub-continent is tougher but even there I'd rather have the emotion in the original and read. Dubbing rarely conveys the original emotion.
    Also most subtitled films I watch I own which allows one to grow an appreciation.

  7. Wasn't there a network show like this in the '90's? Murder One was the title, IIRC. I think it only lasted one season, maybe two.

  8. Yes, the first season of Murder One mostly followed a single murder case, though focusing on lawyers rather than cops.

    To a certain extent the show that finally made this concept into a hit was 24, to which the original The Killing has also been compared (in a very, very low-key way, of course).

  9. This clip brings back memories. My parents are German, and we used to spend summers with my mother's family in Germany. My cousins often watched American dramas and sitcoms dubbed into German, and I always hated it, no matter how well it was dubbed. The voices used always ruined the effect. The voiceover people seem to go for a certain "sound." Especially female voices, which always sound like the same person (which I know it isn't). As a result I much prefer subtitles.

  10. This clip brings back memories. My parents are German, and we used to spend summers with my mother's family in Germany. My cousins often watched American dramas and sitcoms dubbed into German, and I always hated it, no matter how well it was dubbed. The voices used always ruined the effect. The voiceover people seem to go for a certain "sound." Especially female voices, which always sound like the same person (which I know it isn't). As a result I much prefer subtitles.

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