Okay, so I just saw that the Chinese movie Castle in the Time was premiering on December 27th, and since the synopsis sounded interesting, I took a look at the cast. The main female lead is Park Min Young, who… I don’t think speaks fluent Chinese?
I find this topic of shows with actors who don’t speak the language interesting. I have definitely heard of other Chinese dramas/movies who have starred non-Chinese-speaking actors, and I’m sure there are shows from other countries that have done the same thing.
The thing is… I’m concerned about the effect the language barrier will have on the movie, and I also wonder why they don’t just pick an actor who can speak the language rather than dub the whole thing. I can understand if that actor is truly just the spitting image of the character, but… come on. It’s not like there is a dearth of people who can play the role, especially not for a higher-end production like this.
Anyway, just my random thoughts on this, but what do you all think? Are there any shows out there that have done a good job despite the language barrier? I’d be happy to be enlightened .
Didn’t Ice Fantasy have a Korean actress in it too?
I’m skipping over Victoria Song, since she is native Chinese, but one of the side characters was played by Kim Hee Sun. I was kind of surprised to see her back then .
It’s been a long time, but I don’t think it took anything away from the role.
Chinese dramas very often dub Chinese actors too, because they don’t speak pure Mandarin but some other dialect. They are used to it. In older years, when it was a daily drama, the actors didn’t have the time to learn all of their lines so they improvised saying something else, because they knew they would be dubbed anyway. Maybe that’s why they have learned to barely move their lips when they speak, have you noticed?
I’ve heard that this practice is less done in the last 2-3 years, and the acting has improved as a result. Because how can you express emotions properly if you don’t even know what you’re saying, and you’re saying random things?
As for foreign actors… Some Korean stars learn Chinese. So they may not be fluent speakers and still need to be dubbed, but at least know what they’re supposed to be saying and understand more or less what their co-actor is saying. And some of them know it quite well too - although their accent may be off. In that case, it’s no different than dubbing a Chinese actor who speaks Cantonese and has to be dubbed in Mandarin.
I don’t know about the particular example that you’re making, though.
I heard about this too! I thought it was a drama, though? I hope they do an international release, because I’m really curious what it’s going to be like. I’ve seen Park Min Young in some other dramas and I like her as an actress, so I think it will be fun seeing her in a C-Drama. I’ve never seen a Korean actor in a C-Drama before and I’m currently looking for something like that to watch, just out of curiosity.
I get what you’re saying, though. I’m kind of used to C-dramas being dubbed, though, so I figured that’s what they’d do with her too. I was curious about how they would handle the mouth movements too, but seeing the rest of the replies on your post it’s a lot clearer to me now. I’m looking forward to seeing it, though.
I do have to say that I just recently saw something like this from my own country. I think they had a mixed cast of Turkish actors and actors from my country and I have to say that, for me, it was the strangest thing to see. I’m guessing it was done that way since they probably did one version for us with Macedonian voice actors and one version for Turkey with Turkish voice actors. They did it really well in terms of mouth movements and dubbing and all that, so I’m not finding any faults with the technique or anything, but what was strange was seeing all these actors dubbing themselves that I’m used to seeing just speak, especially since I’ve seen them live in plays as well. It was even stranger recognizing voices from actors I know, but seeing a different face to them.
On that note, I really wonder how I’ll feel watching Park Min Young voiced by someone else, knowing her voice and having seen her in other shows. I’m really curious how it’ll all play out. It’s certainly a fun concept.
You are lucky that your country is not one where dubbing is the norm. For Italy, France (and I think Spain? correct me if I am wrong), it’s been the accepted practice for a century now, since the advent of talking movies.
Unfortunately this means that the Italians and the French never got to be good in foreign accents, because they didn’t have any chance to hear any native speakers.
Only in the past couple of decades some films in original language with subtitles are available in a few Italian cinemas in large cities.
Yes, since there are less dubbing actors that international actors, inevitably you would hear the same voice for different foreign actors. The big stars like Marlon Brando, John Wayne, Robert De Niro, had someone specializing in them, and it was always the same voice actor taking care of the dubbing. Of course that voice actor wouldn’t be able to make a living only waiting for “his” or “her” star to make a movie, so inevitably he or she had to dub other actors too.
I always thought this system was completely ridiculous, because an actor’s voice is an integral part of the acting, just like the face expressions and body posture, so if you deprive this actor from this essential part, as a viewer you lose something.
I grew up in Greece where the only things that are dubbed are cartoons for pre-school children. Even Disney movies have a dubbed version and a non-dubbed version for adults (typically shown in the evening hours, whilst the children’s version is in the afternoon). And, sure enough, Greeks are very proficient in foreign languages. Most may still have a recognizable accent, but they are used to listening the original speech while reading the subtitles very quickly, from a young age.
That’s why I always want to laugh when Italian friends tell me “But subtitles are distracting, you cannot concentrate on what’s going on on the screen, how can you divide your attention between both things?” For me it’s automatic.
When my children were small and they couldn’t read or they could but not quickly enough to follow subtitle speed, we watched a foreign film, I read the Greek subtitles and I translated into Italian for them, also choosing simpler words or changing them to make them more understandable when needed or quickly explaining a slightly difficult concept. And when my son (who is 4 years older than my daughter) became proficient in reading Greek, he did the same thing (automatic translation into Italian) for his sister. And the same when there were school outings with a local person showing them around the premises, and there were classmates just arrived from Italy who didn’t understand Greek, he automatically translated what the guide said to the class. Because most of the time the teacher’s Greek also wasn’t good so she couldn’t do it herself.
I mean, it’s all a question of habit.
But yes, in international productions, dubbing is a necessity, the only case where I think it is justified.
I completely agree with you. We do have some stuff dubbed now, I believe. I think it’s mostly Turkish dramas that get shown on TV that are dubbed, though. I’m not sure how and why that practice started, because it wasn’t really done with anything else before that. I remember when I was a kid Spanish shows used to be really popular on TV and a bunch of my friends used to watch them. But none of them were dubbed, so a lot of people picked up a lot of Spanish vocab that way. I always hear people say that if these new Turkish shows weren’t dubbed, people who watch them would have picked up some Turkish along the way, but sadly, all of them are dubbed now. Thankfully, I think nothing else is. Possibly some cartoons for kids, but I think a lot of those aren’t dubbed either.
You’re completely right. Watching stuff in the original language helps so much in learning that language. When I was little, my parents used to give me a lot of stuff to watch and read in English and continued to do so even after I started formally learning the language. Formal learning was so much easier once I’d acquired a good amount of the language that way. Most of our teachers used to do that too. Nowadays I’ve seen it’s actually pretty common practice with most teachers to use these real-world materials as a way to help students learn the language. I do it with my students now too. Formal learning is great, but this way you can also get a certain “natural” form in the language that you can’t really get from a textbook that’s set to a particular level.
I also don’t understand why people seem to think it’s so hard to follow along to both the show and the subtitles. As you said, it’s really a habit. And with the fact that we watch most stuff on streaming services, you can also pause and read if it happens to slip by. I have some friends who I’ve recommended K-Drama to that use this argument. “I can’t focus on both at the same time. I want to hear them speak.” Sure, but then you’re also limited to content from one to two languages and that’s it. Subtitles are awesome for this purpose. You don’t have to speak the language and yet you’ll still get to watch the content and you might even pick something up along the way, whether it’s facts about a different culture or a different language. I personally love subtitles, even if they’re captions in a language I’m fluent in. Anything that I happen to not hear completely for some reason, I can always read.
It has been more common now to see even American actors speaking in another language in dramas or movies. Although they sound very fluent; they are obviously lip synching the conversation in that other language. For example; in The Hotel Land the actress Yooh-na speaks Chinese and Japanese according to the drama, but in Japanese it’s obviously not her voice although it sounded a bit close to her natural voice. The Chinese oddly enough I believe was her own voice, but she lip synch the sentence and it didn’t look natural at all.
Yeah, I would have preferred it to be a drama too, because we would have gotten more time with the story and characters. They definitely have more time to develop. But I haven’t seen a C-Movie yet, so I think this might be as good a time to start for me as any. That is, assuming it does get an international release, which I really hope it does.