Alfonso Cuarón said recently people should use subtitles instead of dubbing when watching foreign-language films.
In a recent conversation with IndieWire, the renowned Mexican director said he was OK with dubbing if that helps films get "seen around the world," but he also expressed his preference for subtitles.
His award-winning movie Roma, which premiered on Netflix in 2018, was shot in Spanish and Mixtec. Cuarón made sure the film was not officially dubbed, forcing people to use subtitles instead.
“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,” said the filmmaker.
While 86% of Russian adults prefer dubbed over subtitled content, American, Chinese, and Korean audiences prefer to read captions. But according to MarketWatch, the U.S. dubbing and voice-over market is expected to keep growing over the next few years.
Proponents of dubbing often say having to read subtitles will distract you from actually watching the film, while proponents of subtitles say dubbing removes an important part of the actors' performance: their voice.
The debate is messy. It's a good thing Netflix and other streaming services often offer both options.