The benefits of subtitles (in your native tongue)

Several years ago, I saw a South Korean movie called I’m a Cyborg, but it’s Ok at a film festival in Spain.  Naturally, this meant Spanish subtitles.  Unfortunately for me, it was my first month in Spain and my Spanish was questionable at best.  Watching a film about a girl who thinks she’s a cyborg was a little above my comprehension.

Fast forward a few years.  A few nights ago, I was trying to find a movie to watch with Shawn, and lo and behold:  I’m a Cyborg, but it’s Ok on Netflix!  I should say that even though I didn’t understand very much of the movie the first time around, I did enjoy it.  The movie is visually striking, and some scenes are surreal (as you can probably tell from the title). 

Watching the movie with English subtitles was a completely different experience.  I understood pretty much all of the nuances of the plot, the characters’ backstories, etc.  Because of this higher level of comprehension, I was more consumed with the plot than I was the first time around and I paid much less attention to the visual details.  Even though watching the film for the first time (without English subtitles) was a bit disorienting, it gave me the opportunity to imagine parts of the story and provide my own details to weave the pieces I understood together to form a whole.

The biggest benefit of the English subtitles was being able to understand everything so I could then think about it and talk about it with Shawn.  I would highly recommend I’m a Cyborg, but it’s Ok to everyone who thinks they might be a machine (or those just looking for a good, very quirky movie).


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