Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite, a South Korean black comedic thriller that features a Korean family defying social norms, made history by being the first non-English speaking movie to win Best Picture at the 2020 Academy Awards.

The entire screenplay for Parasite is in Korean, necessitating subtitle translations for viewers who do not know Korean—a practice that is not frequently preferred among English-speaking diasporas.

Despite this, Parasite became the first foreign language picture in Academy history to win the coveted prize and brought in more than $35 million US dollars.

This momentous evening disproved the notion that audiences who speak English as their first language do not respond favorably to foreign films with English subtitles.

The subtitle controversy has long prevented filmmakers from finding success in international markets and across linguistic and cultural boundaries. 

Video localization value of dubbing and subtitling

A crucial component of localizing videos or movies is subtitle translation. Closed captioning, sometimes known as “subtitles,” enables viewers to see movie script text and is frequently thought of as a resource just for hearing-impaired or deaf viewers.

Turning on subtitles is becoming more and more commonplace among larger audiences due to movies like Parasite, which are redefining Hollywood. However, subtitle translation calls for far more than linguistic cunning or even translation proficiency.

The subtitler must prioritize their task while yet accurately portraying the language and cultural aspects of the speech.  

The text should be simple to read, and subtitles should be provided logically and clearly. Subtitles must be mindful of how many characters can fit on one line because adult viewers typically read 15–17 characters per second.

The maximum number of lines for subtitles in foreign language movies is two, and for good subtitling, subtitlers must carefully capture the tale storyline, character emotions, age, and personality.

Directors must make difficult choices about the localization films since it requires so much labor and there are concerns within the business. 

Video localization value of dubbing and subtitling

The age-old debate is “to sub or dub?” The debate over subtitling (sub) versus dubbing (dub) in the film industry has raged for some time, and Parasite’s success has inevitably brought it back to the forefront.

In dubbing, also known as voicing, performers read script translations over the original screenplay, allowing movies to be marketed internationally.

In addition, proponents of dubbing contend that subtitles are hard to read and that dubbing retains the cinematic experience by accurately capturing the script’s complex discourse through localized voiceovers without time limits.

However, proponents of subtitles contend that a subtitle translation strategy enables viewers to fully appreciate an actor’s cinematic performance.

In contrast, voice actors in dubbing might incorrectly interpret a scene’s tone and detract viewers from the film’s overall emotional impact.

Surprisingly, though, dubbing is known to extend production schedules while subtitles are frequently less expensive, easily distributed, and accessible to viewers throughout the world. 

Recently, streaming video and movie services have gained popularity among consumers all over the world. Through subtly translated subtitles and dubbing, video localization is essential for the global advancement of language literacy.

According to one estimate from India, 200 million Indians nationally have improved their reading abilities because of subtitling. The need for voice actors and dubbing in movies has also risen, and some markets—like the French—strongly favor French-language products. 

In conclusion, there is no denying the significance of video localization for the film business through dubbing or subtitling. Cultural tastes play a significant influence in deciding the success of which localization tools to utilize (subs versus dubs).