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Why do films lack the original soundtrack? We asked Amazon Prime Video

Why do films lack the original soundtrack? We asked Amazon Prime Video

Annoying for some film fans: There are numerous series and films on streaming services - but sometimes without the original language and suitable subtitles. Why is that and what do you do after a bad purchase (download)? xiaomist investigated the matter.

The world of streaming could be so simple: Hollywood productions are usually filmed in English, animes are mostly Japanese, French is spoken in the highly acclaimed art house film. So the streaming provider just has to add the appropriate audio track and that's it. Well, unfortunately it isn't - and there are reasons for that.

Why no original soundtrack? A German filmmaker explains

An interesting thread can be found on Reddit under the title "Rent films online in Germany 2021 - AMA", which addresses the lack of the original language. According to his own statement, the user mighty_manonin is a "German filmmaker with a lot of experience in the field of streaming". He explains why the availability of OV audio tracks and subtitles is so bad: " Demand for OV series may have increased in recent years, but it's still so low compared to dubbed stuff that it's It's not worth the effort of a technician who works an hour to import subtitles ." In short: Adding subtitles later is simply too expensive in some cases.

The audio track must match the edited version

Why there is a certain effort at all has to do, among other things, with the numerous cut versions that exist of films. Film buffs are aware of this, but perhaps not the layman: a blockbuster filmed in the USA can have a different film distributor in Germany (e.g. Constantin Film or Tobis Film) than in the home market. This "distributor of cinema films" can usually be seen at the beginning, because that's where the logo is shown. But this small detail alone leads to different running times of the cut versions. In addition, with older films, it's difficult to put the pieces together for the original version fan to enjoy.

"As soon as you (...) take titles that are a few years old, nobody often knows where the data is anymore . You can count yourself lucky if the OV soundtrack is available and fits the German cut version . As soon as the distributor has changed from US to DE (often [sic] the case) there are different logos at the beginning and therefore a different audio track (length)", explains mighty_manonin.

Again, it is a question of effort: does the streaming provider want to follow up with the contractual partner? Or isn't that worth it, because experience has shown that most viewers in Germany prefer the German soundtrack?

Germany prefers dubbed versions

A special feature of the German audience: In this country, dubbed films and series are the standard , the version "original with subtitles" (OmU) that is widespread in other countries is downright spurned. According to the Goethe Institute, Germany is the "most important dubbing nation alongside Italy and Spain". An explanation for this can be found in post-war history: "After years of German-national indoctrination and isolation from international culture, they behaved recalcitrantly towards the "foreigner", which was presented to them primarily via the soundtrack."

The result: films (regardless of where they came from) were better received in German, subsequent editing with dubbing actors became normal in the 1950s ... and has remained so to this day. For fans of the original soundtrack, this is an endless tragedy, because many titles with the original language also lose a cinematic means of expression (e.g. unique voice, intonation, foreign dialects, vocabulary that is difficult to translate, etc.). Well, that's just the way it is: the force of habit and the majority of the viewers have decided.

Films without the original language: That's what Amazon Prime Video says about it

Films only in German, although there should be an original version - this applies to all major streaming providers such as Netflix, Sky Ticket or RTL +.

The streaming market leader in Germany (see Statista) is currently Amazon Prime Video . Here you can find a lot of films and series for every taste - but also some examples where the original version is missing and you only have the German soundtrack to choose from. This also applies to the area of ​​loan and purchase titles . The topic has already been discussed within the xiaomist editorial team and examples have been found where different film versions can be rented or bought with or without an English soundtrack. You have to be very careful when buying so as not to make a mistake. For example in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of Electro" :

Full HD version, German and OV. 4K version, German only. 4K version, OV only.

So I checked with Amazon and got immediate replies from a Prime Video spokesperson (as of January 2022) .

Answer from Amazon Prime Video regarding language versions:

In the case of Amazon Original titles such as Das Rad der Zeit, Prime Video, as the rights holder, is responsible for the production and provision of dubbed and subtitle versions of the titles. All Amazon Originals are available for streaming with numerous subtitles and language versions for Prime members on Prime Video. Licensed titles for buying and renting as well as for streaming as part of a Prime membership are delivered by third-party contractual partners. The available language and subtitle versions differ depending on the version of the title available from the licensor.

Response from Amazon Prime Video on the subject of cancellation (wrong purchase due to incorrect language version):

Prime Video is continuously working on improving the customer experience, replenishing available language versions for titles and making the available language and subtitle versions more clearly visible to our customers. However, if a title was mistakenly purchased in the expectation of a language version that is not included, customers can usually cancel the purchase and receive a full refund of the purchase price - provided that no more than a few minutes of the title are available were watched.

Long live the original version: Two useful tips

If you are already an original sound fan or would like to become one, I have two simple tips:

The first tip is obvious and also results from the above statement from Amazon Prime Video: Before renting or buying , check very carefully which audio tracks and subtitles are included. The information is not usually included in the title of the movie or series, but is displayed on a details page . Depending on the provider, you also have to look elsewhere. It is important that you think about it at all - and not order the wrong thing in a hurry. The second tip has to do with sound. Although my understanding of the language is good, I sometimes find it difficult to follow every word of an English audio track - especially when the sound quality is not optimal. A good soundbar , which offers a special dialog mode, can help here. The next level are headphones (without activated surround effects), here you are directly on the sound. This makes it much easier for me to keep up with mumbled (Texas) English.

The xiaomist purchase advice shows the best soundbars:

So always the original version and everything else is out of the question? Well, some actors like Tom Hardy as Bane are difficult to understand in some movies in English. Constantly reading along with the subtitles is also annoying - and disrupts the movie experience. So there are definitely arguments for choosing the German dubbed version. Sometimes the dubbing itself is a masterpiece (Eddie Murphy movies from the 1980s, Bud Spencer movies, etc.) that gives a film a special charm. What is your favorite way to watch series and films? Write us your opinion in the comments.

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