Semi-comprehensible soundtracks on modern movies

Is it just me, but do other people understand what actors are saying in modern movies?

When I was younger I did a lot of amateur acting.  We performed in the massive great barn of a place called the Wimbledon Theatre in London.  Our director was great, but a bit of a tyrant.  She used to tell us regularly: “ The audience is paying money to hear what you have to say.  They deserve to hear every word, and I mean every single word”.  And while she sat at the very back of the theatre, high up in the gods, she would make us go over lines repeatedly until she could hear and understand every word we uttered.  We learned to project our voices.

So  maybe I have lost a few percentage points of hearing over the  years (I don’t know) but why is it that, during Netflix productions, for instance, my wife and I constantly exclaim, “What did he say? What was that?  I haven’t a clue what they are saying”, and similar.  I don’t think that mumbling is part of good acting, and conclude that must be a dearth of competent sound engineers around – unless there are plenty and they are instructed to accept grunting and mumbling, and unless acting schools are turning out inarticulates.

We are paying to watch – and understand, and have a right to do so.

Does anyone else sympathise?  Is this an older generation problem, or are the generality of audiences happy to accept just a general idea or impression of what is going on on the screen.  I recall that when the French Impressionists first emerged the public were very dismissive of them (amateur daubers).  Maybe we are seeing a new “art form” in movie -making?

One Comment

  1. Yes, I certainly do sympathize and to the point that I now have subtitles on all the time. My difficulty is usually with English and Australian dialogue. That may be because there are so few American-made movies or program that interest me at all. I certainly wish there were more watchable programs out there.

    It seems to me, that subtitles help just as much in decoding Aussie speech as the varieties of UK accents. Scottish definitely requires subtitles and, sometimes, in a very large font. 🙂

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