Recently I had a discussion with my coworker about a new foreign movie just released and playing at the Little theater. I strongly recommended to see this movie because it's a real masterpiece.
And the answer was... No, I hate reading those subtitles.
Wait a minute! I understand your feelings about subtitles, but there is something else there besides dialog: cinematography, music, dancing, singing, etc. Sixty years ago nobody cared about subtitles because all movies were silent and still millions of people went to see them, and enjoyed them. A great movie is very often the combination of many different components, and some of them go beyond simple word description. They don't need words because one look of the human eye can tell you much more than a thousand words, and one stupid phrase can spoil the whole movie.
The cinema is first of all a visual art and this is what distinguishes it from books. It makes the movies closer to paintings with the difference that a movie is just a sequence of visual images (Peter Greenway proved it). Another danger here is losing the opportunity to enrich yourself with the culture of different countries. Mankind has thousand years of history and agree or not, but this experience was accumulated somewhere and is expressed through music, books, paintings, sculptures and movies. It just so happens that movies are the most accessible element of this list (who the hell is reading French, German or Russian classics these days?). Foreign movies (if they are good) help us to better understand who we are, what we are from and where we go (thanks Mr. Gauguin!). They are different from typical Hollywood stuff, since sometimes (quite often), they have unhappy endings but it doesn't mean that they don't make us better (which is the main purpose of the arts). They open our eyes, and the truth is that there are much more unhappy people than happy ones. There is nothing wrong with crying people because the tears are a result of our co-suffering with the characters, and the suffering purifies us (in accordance with Dostoevsky) and probably makes us better. It could be also quite healthy since some researchers are saying that we need to cry from time to time to release the stress. Foreign movies are not afraid to leave the main heroes morally damaged and puzzled. This is the real life, and we know that. Don't be afraid of missing some words because you can get much more from the screen. Give it a try. Go to the Little!
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