French to English subtitles of classic films

by Knockhundred Admin

We asked John, one of our French to English subtitlers, which French films he would most like to subtitle into English.

“Where to start? I am a romantic at heart and cannot resist a good French love story, even when it goes terribly wrong for the protagonists. One of my all-time favourites is Le Mépris starring Brigitte Bardot and Michel Piccoli and charts their disintegrating relationship as the character played by Michel is simultaneously seduced and repelled by the world of filmmaking. To be honest, I could subtitle any film with Brigitte Bardot in it.

From a lazy point of view, I would also pick Playtime (1967) as it is so beautiful to watch and there is scarcely any speech at all.

When I was studying for my MA in Audiovisual Translation Studies, one of the French films I opted to subtitle into English was Amour, directed by Michael Haneke. It is a devastating and moving account of relationships at life’s end. One of the challenges of creating subtitles for such a subject matter is to try and make the words seem less “dry” when seen written down. The last thing you want to do is to distract from the film and the themes within a film. You know you have created good subtitles when the audience does not consciously realise they are reading them. The subtitles have simply become what the characters are saying, matching the tone and intended meaning of what is happening visually.”

If you would be interested in finding out more about our French subtitling service, do please get in touch.