Dubbing needs drubbing


I confirmed and reconfirmed no fewer than three times that the film I went to Berlin to see would be in English (its original language) with German subtitles. But you just can’t trust the Germans when it comes to dubbing versus subtitling. Turns out it was dubbed into German – except for the songs, which were subtitled. Yes, it’s a musical, and therefore primarily music.


But that doesn’t mean you have actually subtitled the movie when all the dialogue is forcing Ryan Gosling to speak unnatural German. In that sense, it was a hilarious footnote to this adventure – I would not, as I told someone afterwards, watch a dubbed movie at home if someone paid me to do it, but today I spent considerable time, effort and money just to get to and watch a dubbed movie. However, it is a testament to the power of the film that I could still leave feeling moved and crying. I didn’t expect to – with all the hype, it being a musical (two strikes, automatically), not being particularly fond of Emma Stone either way and not that keen on what appeared to be a love story. Not to mention that it didn’t grab me the first minute or even in the first 20 minutes (especially, of course, because it was in German haha). But even in English it really wasn’t doing it for me. I don’t know when or how it changed, but there were small moments that started to win me over.

But again I can’t even be irritated about the dubbing. The experience of just running off and doing something different and virtually unplanned was enough. Uneventful flight, gorgeous but bitterly cold Berlin weather, visiting some favorite sites, everything running smoothly and on time, nice lunch at Jewish restaurant, Masel Topf, in Prenzlauer Berg, watching the police assigned to guard the synagogue pace back and forth.

And good film, if a bit strange – like the time I saw a Norwegian film in Mexico before I ever lived in Norway or gave Norway or Norwegian a second thought. As soon as I sat down in the cinema, I thought, “Hmmmm.” Norwegian voice, Spanish subtitles. Brilliant.

I did figure out finally what made me feel I had fallen out of love with Berlin when I was considering moving there last year. It was that for me it is not a city to do by myself/by oneself. It has always been something I explored or wanted to explore with someone, so wandering around alone actually felt empty. I had forgotten that I felt that way sometimes when I was working there. Other cities have not been like that – Swedish cities don’t feel that way to me, for example. But I feel a bit lost – not literally – but emotionally untethered without a Berlin companion, strange as that sounds.

And now it is definitely and desperately time for sleep – only about six hours to go until I can achieve that.

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