Will Parasite Be Translated Into English?

Korean movie Parasite swept the board at the Academy Awards last month, and became the first foreign-language film to win the Best Picture gong.

While many expected the thriller, directed by Bong Joon-ho, to do well at the prestigious event, its unprecedented win of the most coveted award in the film industry was a surprise for everyone.

This is particularly the case as the dark flick was spoken in Korean with English subtitles, meaning most people around the world would have had to read the dialogue between characters, instead of listening to it as the story unfolded.

That is why, as soon as Bong Joon-ho walked home with the Best Picture accolade for the movie, he has faced questions about whether Parasite will be transformed by a voice over company to allow a far greater market to engage with the flick.

The director, who has gained a reputation for his humour, since told the press that having English translated subtitles at the bottom of the screen has not been a problem so far.

Indeed, the 132-minute flick has managed to gain a worldwide following, earning $227,048,972 (£177,394,497) at the box office since its release earlier this year.

The director has complete confidence in his movie and does not feel the need to change it. Instead, he believes viewers have to alter their attitude towards watching non-English-speaking films.

Speaking during his Golden Globes acceptance speech, when Parasite was given the award for Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language, Best Director – Motion Picture, and Best Screenplay – Motion Picture, he said: “Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”

While dubbing a foreign-language film with an English-speaking voice over makes watching the movie much easier, many people believe it does not honour the quality of acting from the original cast.

However, others prefer dubbing to subtitles, arguing that conversations do not come across in the same way when they are written down, particularly if they are edited to be shorter in the translated language.

It also takes for granted viewers ability to read quickly or be able to follow the voices of the different characters.

A cognitive psychologist gave their opinion about the pros and cons of subtitling, telling The Times recently that it can still allow for a positive film experience.

“When you’re watching a subtitled movie, you have to be engaged with the screen and be more attached, but once you engage with that, you can have as rich an experience as if it were your language,” it was stated, suggesting language is not a barrier in motion pictures, like many people might believe it is.

In fact, many foreign-language films have become huge successes over the years. This includes French flick Untouchable, or The Intouchables, which grossed $426,588,510 when it was released in 2011.

Life Is Beautiful is still incredibly popular, despite being more than 20 years old and its entirely Italian script, while Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, released in 2000, remains one of the highest grossing, as well as most popular, foreign movies.

Incidentally, both of these pictures won the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film.