In recent weeks, many Danish have finally been able to understand their country's actors again — thanks to subtitles.
According to European news site The Local, Danish actors were criticized for mumbling to such an extent that many moviegoers had a hard time following the story plot. In reaction to the complaints, cinema owners promised to provide people with the option to either choose movie screenings with subtitles or without. All films produced in Denmark will be available in both versions in the future.
Speaking to The Washington Post on Friday, Kim Pedersen, head of the country's association for movie theaters, confirmed the trend: "Many Danish had previously complained that it was increasingly hard to follow movie dialogues of movies produced in their country, so we took action."
So far, about 10 percent of moviegoers have chosen to attend the subtitled screenings — preferring to read the movie dialogues in their native language instead of trying (and potentially failing) to hear them.
Some cinema owners do not seem to think that movies without subtitles will have a future in Denmark, and have completely abandoned them, according to the country's public broadcaster.
The shift has also enabled deaf people to attend more movie screenings than before. "All in all, many Danish seem to be very happy. They can go to the cinema again and really understand the conversations," Pedersen said, reflecting the feedback he has received.
Pedersen blames the necessity for subtitles on the evolution of the use of Danish in movies. Whereas in the past, actors were focused on articulating themselves in a way understandable for everyone, their main emphasis has now shifted to being as authentic as possible. Hence, many actors have chosen not to imitate more common dialects and have stuck to local versions of Danish. "It's a small country, but there are big differences between the Danish dialects," Pedersen explained.
But couldn't Danish actors put at least a bit more emphasis on mumbling less to attract a bigger audience? Well, apparently not.
"It is difficult to ask actors to speak more clearly. ... Sometimes, speaking the most common Danish accents would simply make the movies and the characters seem implausible," Peter Frandsen Siggaard, a journalist for the country's public broadcaster, explained.
Will the use of subtitles reverse the continuous decline in audience Danish cinemas have faced for years? Indeed, movie theaters in the country have recently seen a surprising rise in paying moviegoers. This, however, is not due to subtitles, but rather has its origins overseas. " 'Fifty Shades of Grey' gave us a phenomenal start into the year," Pedersen said.