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Reader question: Can you avoid seeing a dubbed movie in French cinemas?

The Local France
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Reader question: Can you avoid seeing a dubbed movie in French cinemas?
A Dimanche au Cinéma event on the Champs-Elysees. (Photo: Emmanuel Dunand / AFP)

If you're not a fan of the tradition of dubbing foreign-language movies into French, here's how to avoid it.


Question: Sometimes I like to watch Hollywood movies in France, but they always seem to be dubbed into French - is there a way of avoiding dubbed versions?

Going to the cinema is one of life’s joys for many people - and France, the home of Cannes, is well known as a nation of cinephiles. But what if you want to enjoy an overseas film with its original language soundtrack rather than one that has been dubbed into French?

You can do that, too. Many cinemas in France show original language versions of films with French subtitles as well as French dubbed versions. 


The trick is to know which screenings are which - and for that you need to look at cinema listings online or in the local press.

The acronym you’re looking for in the cinema listings is VOST - which stands for Version Originale Sous-Titrée - and that means the screening in question has the original soundtrack and (French) subtitles. 

Frequently, avant-premiere screenings - preview showings of films in selected cinemas before their official release in France - are VOST.

You may occasionally also see VO - Version Originale - which comes without subtitles for the full-on original movie experience.

It’s similar to the VM (Version Multilingue)  initialisation on French TV, which allows viewers to watch imported TV shows or movies in their original language, as well as in French.

If the listing shows no initials, it means the movie will be dubbed into French, so you'll be treated to the sight of one of your favourite American or British movie starts speaking fluent French - albeit while their mouth moves slightly out-of-sync with the words being spoken.



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