• France's news in English
WTF France: What's with the French and dubbing films?
Photo: Screengrab Canal Plus

WTF France: What's with the French and dubbing films?

The Local · 15 Sep 2016, 15:00

Published: 15 Sep 2016 15:00 GMT+02:00
Updated: 15 Sep 2016 15:00 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

You might remember Paul Taylor from his viral YouTube rant this January about the French greeting kisses. Now, he has been headhunted by French channel Canal+ for a new series about life in France.

The name of the show is What the Fuck France! and as the title suggests it involves Taylor taking a rather aggressive (expletive riddled) look at some of the quirky habits and idiosyncrasies of the French.

The first of the 10 mini-episodes aired on Saturday (see below) and was about Taylor's irritation with how the French film industry dubs movies and TV series, something it has to be said, many French people find just as bemusing as Taylor.

"For me dubbing makes no sense at all," Taylor tells French viewers (with the use of subtitles rather than dubbing obviously).

"Now I get your dilemma, you want to watch a movie and not read a f""king book," he goes on.

We asked him just what, exactly, riled him up so much about it.

Over to you Paul:

"I can't get used to the mouth moving while different words are coming out of it. It's OK with cartoons, but when it comes to real people then I just can't watch it, it doesn't compute.

If I'm watching an English-language movie on French TV with my girlfriend, and it's one of the quarter or so that only offer a dubbed version, then I'll simply refuse to watch it. It's a pity if it's a good film that I really want to watch, because then I have to go and find it on iTunes and rent it instead. 

My theory is that the countries that dub TV and movies are the ones where the people speak the most horrific English.

If you look at countries in northern Europe, like Sweden, then you find that the people speak great English. They're used to English there, they've grown up hearing and mimicking it.

I don't think it's a coincidence that the French, the Italians, and the Spanish have such strong accents when they're speaking English. These are all countries that insist on dubbing their films.

In France however, I've met people who say they never even heard English until they were 12 years old when they went on a trip to the UK. 

The worst is when they dub something into French and leave the original English in the background. I first came across it when I was watching a dubbed version of Gordon Ramsay in Kitchen Nightmares. You could hear him swearing his head off in English in the background, I mean, properly swearing, but the man doing the voice over was quite calm and polite. It was so weird.

As for the French, they seem to have quite a mixed reaction to dubbing. I've been reading the comments from the first episode of my show and a lot of people are arguing about whether they prefer to watch the original version or not. 

They can't seem to make their mind up. But they have to deal with dubbing problems, too, like how the same voice actor does Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwartzenegger - but if the two actors are in the same film then they need to hire a new voice actor. It makes no sense. 

My favourite example of it going wrong was with the TV show Friends, where the six voice actors went on strike after the sixth season. They didn't get their way, and the producers had to bring in a new voice actors from season seven to ten. We just don't have that problem because we don't dub. 

I think that letting people watch things in the original version lets them learn, lets them get a better accent. The more you watch, the more you get used to it, which is particularly helpful for understanding TV language and all those kind of expressions that you might not hear as much in real life."

So, how did the first episode go down with French audiences?

Some commenters online stood firm besides the tradition of dubbing. 

Story continues below…

"Sorry to say it, but sometimes the people who do the dubbing have better voices than the original actors," one Facebook user wrote. 

"Take House of Cards, for example, the US voice is monotonous and easily puts me to sleep, but not in the French version."

Most online comments, however, have been supportive towards Taylor and his distaste for dubbing.

Some even took to complaining too, with one ruing the fact that cultural references from the original version can be lost when they're changed to suit a French audience.

For the most part, the French seemed to agree that it's time to ditch the dubbing. 

Paul Taylor's new show, What the Fuck France, is on Canal+ on Saturdays at 12.20pm. Click here to see episode one or watch it below. 

Warning. Viewers who don't take kindly to swearing may want to just read the subtitles.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

UK border must move back, says 'next French president'
Photo: AFP

If favourite Alain Juppé is elected, Britain and France are in for some difficult negotiations.

Homeless man does a runner from France's top restaurants
Photo: Prayitno/Flickr

"A man's gotta eat," he told police, after racking up gigantic bills in some of France's plushest restaurants.

Underwater museum hopes to make a splash in Marseille
A similar underwater museum piece by Jason deCaires Taylor. Photo: julie rohloff/Flickr

Don't forget your scuba gear...

Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Photo: Jacme/Flickr

Move over Paris...

And France's top chef of the year is... 'Monsieur Idiot'
Alexandre Couillon might have an unfortunate name, but he can sure cook!. Photo: AFP

Look beyond the name. He's the man who turned his family's humble "moules frites" joint into one of France's best seafood restaurants.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
Want to drive a scooter around Paris? Here's what you need to know
jobs available