The controversy of dubbing films in Spain
There’s a bitter debate going on in Spain at the moment with regards to dubbing, in which a film’s or TV series’ original voices are substituted for a foreign translation. On one hand there are those that defend the practice as a medium to spread cinema among the population, while on the other there are those who think it’s an outrage, the remains of a period in which Spaniards were supposedly uncultured.
But is anyone right? It’s true that in many cities in Spain it’s hard to find a cinema showing films in their original version, and even then it’s usually only independent or “arty” films. Perhaps that’s why lots of people wrongly think that watching a film in its original language is only for intellectuals. Similarly, many people don’t notice that specialized actors do the dubbing, and a careful classification system for voices is in place, which closely resembles that of opera singers.
This controversy also has a generational aspect that should be taken into account. Until a relatively short time ago, learning a language did not form part of basic education in Spain, meaning the only way for our grandparents to enjoy a good film was to dub it.
But neither can we avoid recognizing that for some time now, dubbing has been distorted. There’s no shortage of specialists or dubbing actors that openly state that a large part of the blame for the profession not being popular recently is the growing custom that some producers have to have celebrities like musicians and sportsmen playing a character’s voice. The aim is to make the film more popular, but what is gained in celebrity is lost in professionalism.
We don’t want to make it seem we believe in one reason over another. Perhaps the answer could be in the big cinemas of Spain, with a choice between a dubbed film, or the original version?
By the way, have you tried watching a film dubbed into Spanish? What did you think of it? It was probably a bit of an experience and, who knows, it might help your Spanish!
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