Last night I went to see Little Miss Sunshine dubbed in Italian. I went expecting the same hilarious, subtly ironic, delicate tragic-comedy I had seen last month with my parents in English. The truth is it didn’t translate very well. People laughed less, they seemed to take the jokes seriously. Somewhere between the failure of matching lips to dialogue, much was lost in translation.
Granted there were things like the van horn that never stops honking and Olive’s routine that are simply beyond words and garnered laughs from the whole audience. But, the movie was so entrenched in American culture that it was hard to see it in Italian. Lines that were funny in North America failed in Italy. The family dynamic didn’t seem to match up with that of Italy. I left feeling as if I should never see an American movie in Italy.
The dubbing industry in Italy is huge. It’s strange to think that foreign films never have subtitles. All these American TV programs and films get redone in Italian, tailored to fit the language and the culture just a little more. It isn’t very appealing from my point of view. Why not learn more languages to better understand foreign films, or just read in the movie theatre. In Italy, films have an intermission. They interrupt the movie smack in the middle and let you walk around. Very odd, very odd indeed. I better just embrace it, read Italian, see Italian movies, and dub my thoughts in Italian because that way people will understand me better and I’ll get more out of it in the end.