In multilingual Singapore, dubbing is rare for western programs. English-language programs on the free-to-air terrestrial channels are usually subtitled in Chinese or Malay. Chinese, Malay and Tamil programs (except for news bulletins), usually have subtitles in English and the original language during the prime time hours. Dual sound programs, such as Korean and Japanese dramas, offer sound in the original languages with subtitles, Mandarin-dubbed and subtitled, or English-dubbed. The deliberate policy to encourage Mandarin among citizens made it required by law for programs in other Chinese dialects (Hokkien, Cantonese and Teochew) to be dubbed into Mandarin, with the exception of traditional operas. Cantonese and Hokkien shows from Hong Kong and Taiwan, respectively, are available on VCD and DVD. In a recent development, news bulletins are subtitled.
In the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium (Flanders), movies and TV series are shown in their original language with subtitles, with the exception of most movies made for a young audience. In the latter case, sometimes separate versions are recorded in the Netherlands and in Flanders (for instance, several Walt Disney films and Harry Potter films). These dubbed versions only differ from each other in their use of different voice actors and different pronunciation, while the text is almost the same.
In Estonia, only foreign children's films are dubbed in cinemas and on Estonian broadcast TV channels. As a rule, all other foreign films are shown with their original "pure" language soundtrack along with subtitles. On TV, the subtitles are almost always available in the Estonian language by default settings, and sometimes also in Russian and English upon request. In the cinemas, the subtitles are usually presented in Estonian and Russian languages. Cartoons and animated series are voiced by dubbing or voiceover. Estonian-language television channels use subtitles for English, Russian, and other foreign language audio. However, Russian-language TV channels tend to use dubbing more often, since most of them are produced and broadcast from Russia (as opposed to the few Russian-language channels broadcast from Estonia).
In the Nordic countries, dubbing is used only in animated features (except adult animated features which only use subtitles) and other films for younger audiences. Some cinemas in the major cities may also screen the original version, usually as the last showing of the day, or in a smaller auditorium in a multiplex.
In Finland, the dubbed version from Sweden may also be available at certain cinemas for children of the 5% Swedish-speaking minority, but only in cities or towns with a significant percentage of Swedish speakers. Most DVD and Blu-ray releases usually only have the original audio, except for animated television series telenovelas, which have both Finnish and Swedish language tracks, in addition to the original audio and subtitles in both languages.
In the French-, Italian-, Spanish-, German-, Russian-, Polish-, Czech-, Slovak- and Hungarian-speaking markets of Europe, almost all foreign films and television shows are dubbed (with the main exception being the majority of theatrical releases of adult-audience movies in the Czech Republic and Slovakia). There are few opportunities to watch foreign movies in their original versions. In Spain, Italy, Germany and Austria, even in the largest cities, there are few cinemas that screen original versions with subtitles, or without any translation. However, digital pay-TV programming is often available in the original language, including the latest movies. Prior to the rise of DVDs (and later Video on Demand and Streaming), which in these countries are mostly issued with multi-language audio tracks, original-language films (those in languages other than the country's official language) were rare, whether in theaters, on TV, or on home video, and subtitled versions were considered a product for small niche markets such as intellectual or art films.
Although German-speaking voice actors play only a secondary role, they are still notable for providing familiar voices to well-known actors. Famous foreign actors are known and recognized for their German voice, and the German audience is used to them, so dubbing is also a matter of authenticity. However, in larger cities, there are theaters where movies can be seen in their original versions, as English has become somewhat more popular among young educated viewers. On German mainstream television, films are never broadcast with subtitles, but pay-per-view programming is often available in the original language. Subtitled niche and art films are sometimes aired on smaller networks.
In Quebec, Canada, most films and TV programs in English are dubbed into Standard French, occasionally with Quebec French idiosyncrasies. They speak with a mixed accent, they pronounce /ɛ̃/ with a Parisian accent, but they pronounce "â" and "ê" with a Quebec accent: grâce [ɡʁɑːs] and être [ɛːtʁ̥]. Occasionally, the dubbing of a series or a movie, such as The Simpsons, is made using the more widely spoken joual variety of Quebec French. Dubbing has the advantage of making children's films and TV series more comprehensible to younger audiences. However, many bilingual Québécois prefer subtitling, since they would understand some or all of the original audio. In addition, all films are shown in English, as well in certain theaters (especially in major cities and English-speaking areas such as the West Island), and some theatres, such as the Scotiabank Cinema Montreal, show only movies in English. Most American television series are only available in English on DVD, or on English-language channels, but some of the more popular ones have French dubs shown on mainstream networks, and are released in French on DVD as well, sometimes separately from an English-only version.
VIDEO and AUDIOHercules' impeccable Blu-ray presentation offers a welcome and significant improvement over the letterboxed Limited Issue DVD transfer the film received in 1999 and had repackaged for the Gold Classic Collection the following year. The package doesn't mention an aspect ratio, but the picture measures 1.78:1, matting a touch more than the 1.66:1 prior DVDs but also gaining some picture on the sides (and utilizing the format's full resolution). The film may be approaching its 20th anniversary, but that's tough to believe seeing this flawless presentation, which is just as sharp, spotless and vivid as it ought to be.The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio is every bit as awesome. Robust and full of directional effects, it wows just as a brand new animated film might and the musical numbers are kept to volume levels consistent with the rest so as not to have you lunging for the remote.Apart from the changed logos addressed above, this feature presentation leaves nothing to be desired. BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGNHercules adds just one minor extra to the pitiful two that joined it on DVD. All three of them are presented in standard definition.First and most significant is "The Making of Hercules" (9:29), an utterly '90s electronic press kit piece promoting the film with cast, crew, and musical contributor comments and some behind-the-scenes footage.Ricky Martin's music video "No Importa La Distancia" (4:47), the Spanish version of "Go the Distance", finds the Latin singer (and Spanish voice of Hercules) wearing a powder blue suit in a fiery underworld performance that's interspersed with random film clips. Excluded yet again, Michael Bolton must be feeling sad somewhere. Finally, new to five-inch disc, a "Zero to Hero" sing-along (2:47) places animated lyrics over 1.33:1 clips from the film. Pulled from the 1997 Sing-Along Songs video The Modern Classics, it has slightly more value than just the film with plain subtitles, but I'm guessing this won't be enough to satisfy Hercules fans who have been waiting fifteen years for a better edition.And that's all we get. No Zero to Hero movie, no random episode of the star-studded animated TV series it launched, no nostalgia-inducing Movie Surfers special, and none of the substantial supplements that Disney animated features lend to, like art galleries, deleted scenes, audio commentary, or even trailers and TV spots.One hardly needs to mention the one Hercules DVD extra (excluding "full-color character artwork on disc") that doesn't make the cut here: two pages of film recommendations displaying the covers of six of the few Disney family titles available on DVD ahead of it.Adding insult to injury, though newly-authored and safely under DVD-9 capacity, the new DVD doesn't bother including the "Zero to Hero" sing-along, but does provide the featurette and the heretofore unadvertised Ricky Martin music video.The discs open with ads for Sleeping Beauty: Diamond Edition, Planes: Fire & Rescue, and next Disney Fairies movie Legend of the Neverbeast, followed by a Pinocchio-themed anti-smoking spot. The Sneak Peeks listing plays ads for Disney Movie Rewards, Disney Parks, and The Lion King musical. The animated menu applies an obscure musical cue to a montage of clips playing within a border of Greek columns, while lightning bolt cursors liven up the listings. The Blu-ray does not resume playback or allow you to set bookmarks, but it does remember where you left off on the film once you get back to the menu after powering down.The plainly labeled blue and gray discs share a side-snapped keepcase, joined by a booklet with your Disney Movie Rewards/Anywhere code and a Disney Movie Club ad and topped by an embossed slipcover reproducing the same artwork below.CLOSING THOUGHTSDisney's Hercules has never looked or sounded better than it does on Blu-ray. That's great news for those wanting to own this charming musical comedy in the best quality available. Regrettably, though, this lightweight platter represents a major missed opportunity to surround this popular film with more substantial bonus material, even something readily available like an episode of the TV series. Fans of this film won't deprive themselves of this set's dazzling HD presentation, but non-completists and those on the fence might, which is unfortunate for such an enduringly entertaining movie.Support this site when you buy Hercules now from Amazon.com:Blu-ray Combo Pack / New DVD / Instant Video 781b155fdc