I'm not a native English speaker. Where I live, English movies get dubbed. However, I hear a lot of people watch TV series or movies in English (over the internet) for several reasons, like getting the original dialogue and also to improve on their language skills.
I would like to get out of my comfort zone and start to watch movies in English myself. Here's what I experienced so far:
- In a foreign country with a foreign language, I went to see Taken 2 without any subtitles in English. Not necessarily because I expected an extremely awesome movie, but to kill some time. Also, I had seen the previous movie in the series in my native language. Following the plot was very easy and I enjoyed the visit to the cinema.
- This year, I went to see the non-dubbed original Jason Bourne in a local cinema, with subtitles. Again, I have seen the previous instalments of the series in my native language. The subtitles were very distracting. I often found myself being able to follow the plot, but not necessarily understanding every word of the spoken language. I also noticed that my brain was often quicker reading the text from screen than understanding the audio. What I understood from the English audio was never that far off, but I clearly missed a few catch phrases. I found that Tommy Lee Jones's character was especially hard to understand.
Now I wonder if I was really able to follow Taken 2 that easily or if I was simply not aware of which phrases I missed to understand due to the lack of subtitles. Or is it in fact the other way round and some movies (actors) employ the language more heavily as an artistic way to shape characters, which might have been the case for CIA director Robert Dewey? For example, I heard that Leonardo DiCaprio got some praise for the accent he gave his character in Blood Diamond, which made me shy away from watching that movie in English.
My goal would be to not only be able to follow the plot at ease, but also catch the fine details of dialogue and language that were purposefully inserted by the artists that crafted the movie. In order to enjoy future visits to the cinema, I'd like to know
How do I decide which movies to watch? What I could think of so far: please note that the following ones are not exactly the questions that have to be answered, just what I was asking myself
- Watching a movie of which a previous instalment is know helps. Does that imply that it's actually better to watch TV series, as they provide a more constant environment over multiple episodes?
- Are certain types of movies (like action movies for example) easier to follow and use less advanced language?
- Would it be a good idea to rewatch movies I have already seen in my native language in English, so that the plot is even easier to follow?
- Is there some kind of rating on movies how difficult/advanced the language is, especially for non native speakers?
- Is it just a matter of experience and getting used to it? Say for example with some video-on-demand service, which makes it a lot easier to tune in to some English movie in an otherwise mostly dubbed cinematic environment?
- Is watching movies with subtitles a bad idea?
I see how this is a language related question that might be better asked at English Language Learners. However, the language is just the tool here. I'd like to get answers from movie enthusiasts that might have had the same problem. I hope this is one of the subjective questions that's allowed here.