‘Subtitles are not going to hurt you’: Alfonso Cuarón criticises dubbing non-English language films

Director Alfonso Cuarón has spoken out about his dislike of dubbing non-English language films rather than using subtitles.

The Roma director is the producer on Le Pupille, an Italian children’s film that has been nominated for Best Live Action Short at this year’s Academy Awards.

On Disney Plus, the film automatically plays with an English-language dub. In a new interview, Cuarón admitted that he isn’t a fan of the method of translation, having made sure Roma was never officially dubbed.

“If that’s going to help for films to be seen around the world, OK, but I find very, very far from ideal,” he told IndieWire.

“Look, if you’re an adult, reading subtitles are not going to hurt you, unless you need to move your lips when you’re reading and will end up very tired at the end of the movie.”

The director added: “Maybe it’s because I grew up with subtitles, but it’s so great to listen to the specific sound and music of every language.”

Le Pupille director Alice Rohrwacher, however, defended the decision, saying that “the dubbing is linked to a young audience who can’t read”.

“When we were shown all the languages from all over the world in which this film was being translated, I was really moved. I couldn’t believe it because it’s incredible to get to these remote places.”

Cuarón’s film ‘Roma’ was nominated for Best Picture at the 2019 Oscars (Carlos Somonte)
Cuarón’s film ‘Roma’ was nominated for Best Picture at the 2019 Oscars (Carlos Somonte)

In 2019, Cuarón’s film Roma was nominated for Best Picture in 2019 but won in the Best Foreign Language Film category (which later changed its name to Best International Feature Film).

The following year, Parasite was named Best Picture, becoming the first non-English language film to win in that category.

The Oscars will take place this year on Sunday 12 March. Le Pupille is up for Best Live Action Short alongside An Irish Goodbye, Ivalu, Night Ride and The Red Suitcase.

You can find the full list of nominees here.