Oh, grumble. One of my favorite movies of last year, Marjane Sartrapi's Persepolis, is being released in an English-language version. Alright, I know, I know. Probably releasing an English-language version will ensure this excellent film is seen by many people who would otherwise be turned off by the need to read subtitles. I get that, really I do. But still, a part of me cringes at the notion that a dubbed version of the film is coming out. I hate dubs, even of anime films (case in point: the charming Kiki's Delivery Service, which I absolutely loved in the original Japanese version, wasn't nearly as delightful in the English-dubbed version with Kirsten Dunst and Phil Hartman).

When I'm checking out a foreign film, I always go for the subtitled version over the dubbed. There's something about hearing the dialog in the orginal language that just makes it feel so much more authentic to me. Of course, when I'm reading the book version, such as with The Complete Persepolis, I need the English version, because I don't read French well (but I'd love to have a copy that has the words in French with an English translation!). For a movie, though, I'd much rather read the subtitles and hear the original language.


On the plus side, the English-language version of Persepolis does at least feature some of the original cast: Chiara Mastroianni still voices Marjane as a teenager and woman, and Catherine Deneuve still voices her mother. Sean Penn takes on the role of Marjane's father, Iggy Pop (!) steps in as her Uncle Anouche, and Gena Rowlands takes over the role of Marjane's grandmother. I suppose I should be more optimistic; perhaps the English-language version will retain the spirit and loveliness of the original version I first saw at Telluride last year, and nothing gets lost in the translation. I hope so.

Does it matter to you if a foreign film you love gets translated for an English-language dub? Would you rather see your fave foreign fare reach a wider audience by being translated, or retain its native charm by going subtitle-only? And which do you prefer to rent (or buy) when it comes to foreign language films?

The English-language version of Persepolis opens nationwide today. If you happen to check it out, let us know what you think of it.

categories Movies, Cinematical