I wrote recently about how disconcerting it was when watching a film when the audio and video are not synchronized, so that the spoken words do not match up with the mouth movements of the speaker.
I recently watched a film where this problem was even more pronounced. It was an Italian film but they had dubbed it into English. Dubbing is usually bad and rarely done these days. When I was young in Sri Lanka, I recall seeing a number of so-called ‘spaghetti western’ films that were made in Italy that had one American star (like Clint Eastwood in the Man With No Name trilogy) or with Steve Reeves as various mythical heroes like Hercules, with the rest of the cast being Italian. So the star would speak in English but all the others in Italian with their voices dubbed in English. They were pretty bad.
Dubbing went out of fashion but this film I watched recently was an old film and it served to remind me how irritating it is. Sometimes the dubbers try as much as possible to choose words in English that match the motions of the speaker’s mouth movement and also last exactly the same amount of time. But the dubbing in this film was really slipshod, both in terms of length and alignment so that the mismatch was extremely noticeable. When there was a quick exchange of dialogue, it was not clear who was saying what.
I turned on the English subtitles to see if that would help but that only compounded the problem because the written English words did not even match the spoken English words, and sometimes was quite different. It was as if the people who created the English subtitles did not work from the English dubbed version but that the two groups each worked from the original Italian and did not communicate with each other at all.
So now there was a three-way mismatch: between the mouth movements, the spoken words, and the written words.
Needless to say, I quickly gave up watching it.