Spanish Dubbed Movies in Spain

I like to go to the movies. Usually I’ll go to the Cine Ideal on the Plaza Jacinto Benavente en downtown Madrid to catch the latest, greatest Hollywood production shown in V.O. – “Versión Original”. Or if it’s a good Spanish movie with English subtitles, I’ll go to one of the Renoir Princesa or Renoir Plaza de España cinemas on the Plaza de los Cubos near Plaza de España.

But last night I went to a new, more local theater to see a movie, a BRITISH movie, with a Spanish buddy whom I’ve known for years and years. I went with MUCH anticipation as I watched them build the entire commercial complex over the last year. Now it includes not only the cinema but also (my) gym, bowling alley (did that last night after the movie), an outside terrace bar, restaurants, and a Carlos Sainz Center where you drive miniature race cars around a circuit (10-minutes, 18€) – both inside and outside.

The new cinema, LUX Cinemas, promoting itself as the only cinema in Madrid where you can CHOOSE your language, was not ALL it “dubbed” itself to be. Their specialty is not only that they’re the newest and most “LUXurious” (?) cinemas in Spain but also that they have the most modern audio system, inflated ticket prices include an obligatory snack-food choice which you can eat at your seat with armrest-hidden counters which flip-up and over ones lap. But the cool thing about this place was that you could actually CHOOSE your language with use of headphones.

We bought our tickets, took a few steps away from the window, then I went back and asked HOW I could “choose” my language. The ticket seller told me, “You can’t choose a language with this movie.” I said, “And in the future, how can I know what movies are available in different languages?” She said, “Well, you can’t. You can only ask after arriving. We had ONE movie awhile back for which you could choose your language and we ‘may’ have more in the future.” Hmmmmm… Sooooo… I was about to watch a BRITISH movie dubbed in Spanish. Okay. Well… fine. Let’s see how this goes with my level of Spanish.

We walked into the VAST, empty cinema, pretty blue lighting system, seats sparkling new and fresh. The attendant took us directly to our ticket-numbered seats, smiled, nodded, and walked away. We were totally alone in our middle-center seats. A few minutes later another couple did come in and were seated behind us. We were 4 people for this 6pm movie on a Wednesday. Fine. I looked around for the audio jacks into which one could plug-in headphones. None. Hmmm… This was all a disappointment and an obvious mis-direction by the marketing department.

The lights dimmed. The coming attractions were shown. We started eating our popcorn. Then the British movie started, continued, and ended in just under two hours. To my amazement – I UNDERSTOOD ALMOST EVERYTHING!!!! WOWEE!! I’d have to say THIS movie was a kind of milestone for me. I always avoided Spanish movies or Spanish-dubbed movies for fear it would be a waste of time and money – and it usually is because I never understand enough of the move to make it enjoyable. But this movie was different. OR *I* was different. I’m not sure which it was. But I understood the, laughed at jokes, and even audibly “added” the next word in the actors’ un-finished sentences.

I don’t mean to pat myself on the back and shout, “LOOK HOW GREAT I AM!” because I’m certainly not. We whom learn other languages have a constant fear of saying the wrong thing or misunderstanding something told to us. We also have a great lack of confidence with ourselves with regards to the language with which we live but don’t totally understand. But lately I’ve noticed, little by little, I’m understanding people more and more. Other recent examples include a visit to the doctor last week, talking to the Social Security agent today, and and old man at the bus stop today who was telling me about how he couldn’t understand why his wife didn’t want to buy the more economical month-long ABONO bus/metro tickets instead of the 10-trip tickets she does buy.

It would appear that learning a language occurs on a 3-part curve:

  • The first 3rd is relatively flat yet very gently ascending. You become exposed to the basics of a language
  • The second 3rd takes a sharp UP-turn. You know the
    basics and these basics allow you to absorb the language’s vocabulary
    and real-life uses on a faster rate
  • The last 3rd of the curve is much more level but still gently
    ascending. You know the basics, have a large mental vocabulary, but
    continue to learn the less commonly-used details of a language

I choose to think I’m somewhere in the middle third. And it’s SUCH a good feeling. For example, when you’re studying a difficult math or chemistry calculation it can take a long, long time to understand. At some point the old light-bulb goes off over your head and you suddenly get it, feeling like a champion, you’ve made a breakthrough. Finally, I think, I GET IT! – but I also know I have a lot to learn. Remember, I’m ONLY in the middle third (and probably towards the bottom).

We hear people speaking to us in this foreign language and we
finally understand nearly everything. BUT WHY CAN’T WE REPRODUCE WHAT WE’RE
That is to say, if I can understand the language why can’t I
SPEAK the language? That’s more difficult. My speaking is now decent-to-good but I suppose that’ll come more quickly in the latter half of the 2nd
part of the aforementioned learning curve.

Someone once said, “The more I know the more I realize I don’t know” or “The more I learn the stupider I feel.”

Saludos, MadridMan

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