Subtitles. Some people love them, some people hate them. As I see it, the hate often turns into love once movie-liking turns into movie-loving. It's quite hard to be an insatiable movie lover and be a fan of the dub -- not being bothered by lips that don't synch with voices, and the voiceovers that fail to offer the same powerful inflections as the original.

Unfortunately, while I love cinema, I'm really growing tired of the subtitles -- to the point that I sometimes avoid films if I'm not geared up to read them. But wait -- I'm not suggesting that I'd rather hear it dubbed, but rather the whole world of subtitling needs to change. There are two reasons:

1. Lazy Subtitles

While the words that run along the bottom of the screen are usually saved for foreign languages, they are sometimes pulled out when heavy accents come into play, or tricky dialects. This is fine, and often handy. But it has to be accurate. While it's okay to adjust words to flow when translating, it's not okay to change them when people understand the language.

There is nothing more annoying or distracting than following the subtitles and hearing entirely different words. I don't know how many times my mind de-railed from the plot of Red Road because I'd hear something like "excellent," but the subtitles would say "great."

The same goes for certain words in foreign languages. You can change adjectives and what-have-you, but it's quite distracting when the subtitle powers that be get tired of writing down the same title/name and decide to switch it up. In Indigenes (Days of Glory), soldier's titles would often get switched. I might not speak French, but it's pretty easy to understand titles like "Staff Sergeant." strong>2. White on White
I sometimes wonder if those same subtitle powers that be actually yearn for subtitles to disappear. Why else would white always show up on white? While I should've spent all of JCVD laughing and revelling in all things Jean Claude Van Damme, I was mostly squinting like an old lady, straining to read the white words on white backgrounds. It's not impossible to do, but it certainly isn't fun either. The whole point is to read them as fast as possible so that you can spend most of your efforts looking at the scenes, and not the words.

If we expect the world to embrace subtitles, the first course of action is make them worth reading. Don't get creative with recognizable words (write your own script if you're getting antsy!),and more importantly, make them easy to read! If the film darts between dark and light too much, why not have a black bar below the film's scenes that relays the text? Whatever the case, don't give subtitle haters a reason to stay away. There are too many wonderful foreign films out there that people should see, rather than wait for the remake.
categories Movies, Cinematical