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Is there a way to see films without dubbing in Italy?

The Local Italy
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Is there a way to see films without dubbing in Italy?
All foreign films in Italy are dubbed into Italian, but some cinemas offer original language screenings. Photo by Kilyan Sockalingum on Unsplash

All foreign films in Italy are dubbed into Italian, but does this mean original language versions are entirely unavailable?

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Going to the cinema is one of life’s joys for many people, but unless you speak fluent Italian it can be less enjoyable in Italy.

Even if you do understand Italian perfectly well, you may not be a fan of dubbing on foreign-language films - the ubiquitous Italian-language voiceover which leaves famous actors using voices very different to their own, their lips usually moving out of sync with their speech. This can be distracting and even unsettling if you're not used to it.

Italy is one of several European countries - along with Spain and Germany - where foreign-language films are often dubbed. This quirk is believed to be a legacy of Italy's Fascist regime, connected to low literacy levels in the early 20th century, and today partially blamed for the relatively low levels of English language attainment among students.

But does this mean international residents wanting to watch the latest Hollywood blockbuster will have to either get used to dubbing or give up on the cinema altogether?

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The good news is that finding films in their original language isn’t a totally hopeless enterprise. In fact, some Italian cinemas – especially in major cities such as Rome, Milan and Turin – show films in their original language accompanied by Italian subtitles. 

The easiest way to find original language screenings is to visit MyMovies, the most popular cinema website in Italy. 

The website isn’t currently available in any language other than Italian, but you’ll only need very basic Italian in order to use it.

Once you’re in the cinema listings section (Film al Cinema), all you’ll have to do is select the province (provincia) you’re living in from the drop-down menu, then click on the ‘original language’ (lingua originale) filter.

MyMovies website, Italy

The ‘lingua originale’ filter on MyMovies allows you to find out what cinemas are offering original language screenings in your area.

This will give you a list of all the screenings in your area with audio in the original language.

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Most screenings will be labelled as versione originale con sottotitoli, meaning that the film will be available in its original language and accompanied by Italian subtitles. 

Occasionally, you may also see some screenings carrying the versione originale label, which means that it will be available in the original language and without Italian subtitles, giving you a full-on original film experience.

There will of course be a greater choice of non-dubbed screenings available in big cities, especially those that are home to large numbers of foreign nationals (Milan, Rome, Turin, Florence, etc.).

It can be hard to find non-dubbed films elsewhere - though some cinemas found throughout Italy do screen them.  For example UCI has a weekly film in inglese programme, including screenings for kids, although the selection is limited and doesn't tend to feature the most current blockbuster movies.

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Do you know of any cinemas showing films in their original language? Please share your tips with us in the comments section below.

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Comments (3)

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Beth Amato 2024/03/04 18:19
Padova/Padua Porto Astra theatre has films in their original language PORTOastra.it
Anonymous 2023/03/01 08:34
Watching films especially children's at the cinema is a great way to learn the language. If you dont want to watch in Italian then go back to your native country to watch them.
ben_6040fc94dbbd4 2023/02/28 18:57
For what it's worth, I don't think either Trento or Bolzano count as large cities, but both have theaters offering V.O. films. In Bolzano, about once a month at both Cineplexx and UCI cinemas, and in Trento, at least once a week (recently, even more frequently) at Multisala Modena.

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