Over the past several years, after Dennis the Vizsla Dog became a little old man dog, he got in the habit of being noisy in the evenings, loudly complaining via barks and whines that he wanted everyone to stop watching television and go to bed at, oh, 8pm* or so. To an extent, this could be managed with things like the Treat & Train or simply by the occasional tossing of treats (which Hipster Chaplin thought was wonderful, because he was faster than Dennis at that point, with a better nose). Another way this was managed: Putting on subtitles for everything we watched. Because if you can’t listen, you can always read.

Dennis has since gone to the Rainbow Bridge, but his legacy of subtitling remains. As it turns out, running subtitles is an excellent way to watch movies and shows where the characters have thick accents that make it difficult to understand what they’re saying:

Or where the dialog is mixed so far down in the soundtrack that it sounds like people are actually talking to you from a distance of the 18th century:

Or when, you know, everyone is speaking a language you don’t understand:

Well okay, maybe that last one isn’t because of Dennis.

Anyway, aside from making it possible to watch television with a noisy dog at your feet, subtitles also present a few other intriguing features:

  • Sometimes the subtitles don’t match what people are actually saying. For writerly reasons, I always find it interesting to compare what the producers of the film or show thought needed to be altered or simplified in the written text vs. the spoken words.
  • It’s not uncommon for a scene to feature background dialog which is mostly or completely inaudible. Often such background dialog is included in subtitles, which can clue the viewer in to important or amusing goings-on of which he or she would otherwise be unaware.
  • Sometimes the subtitles are just hilarious.

    How to appall everyone in France

You can check out the French-like gibberish below, in a deleted scene from the film Date Night:

Yep, that’s some serious gibberish all right.

* Everyone knows bed time is 9:30pm.

9 thoughts on “Subtitles

  1. It’s really annoying when the music soundtrack is louder than the dialog. How do the editors not know this? Don’t they listen to their stuff?


  2. It can be interesting watching with subtitles, especially when they don’t match! But really brings home how little dialogue is used in films.


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