Open Interpretations

If diehard moviegoers — yes, we still exist — don’t check in advance, they’re liable to find themselves in an open-captions screening. 

Combine this newer phenomenon with the recent proliferation of home viewing through shitty speakers (sacrilege), and these dual factors explain why I’ve become interested in how onscreen audio description alters the audience’s relationship to what they’re watching.

If you’re unaware, open captioning means the movie’s audio is transcribed on screen as subtitles. Dialogue tends to be a straight transcription, but unlike with movies not in English, translating a non-textual noise into words is sometimes warranted, when knowing the tone of a line delivery or piece of orchestral music is integral to our understanding of what’s happening…

Which takes us into the realm of adjectives and adverbs, AKA: the realm of interpretation.

But here’s the thing: interpretations are inherently subjective; as such, it’s fair to disagree with an open-captions interpretation.

OR, are the open captions a window into the creators’ intent?

But does authorial intent = the gospel truth??

And can a non-lingual element even be accurately reduced to a solitary interpretation???

These open-caption interpretations open up yet another running commentary-cum-conversation between us and the art, also provoking consideration of the notion that how we watch — the specific particulars of the viewing experience — changes our conception of what we watch.

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