Hulu original No Man’s Land is a gripping war-drama series that follows Antoine (Félix Moati), a young French man, who dives into the depths of the Syrian civil war in search for his estranged, presumed to be dead sister. Almost every character on the show is multi-lingual and across characters about five languages are spoken, which may sound hard to follow but it surprisingly is not at all. No Man’s Land creators Amit Cohen and Ron Leshem shared in an interview with CinemaBlend why they chose not to dub the series in English.
For whatever reason, many people view reading subtitles as a hindrance to a TV show or movie. Some won’t even give it a chance without the option to have it dubbed in their native language, so this was a bold move for No Man’s Land. The creators were aware of this challenge, but their priority was authenticity. In the words of Amit Cohen:
Six different dialects for one language and five languages, total? That does sound impossible to dub. The characters switching between languages is something I barely noticed in the first couple of episodes, since I only speak English and the unfamiliar languages sounded similar to me. But once I picked up that they were doing that, it made the show so much more interesting because I was fascinated by the amount of work that the writers and actors had to put into this. Ron Leshem added:
So from the filmmaking perspective, they’re often thrown into an environment where they don’t speak the language and this was a chance for them to bring the audience into their world. Working with actors from all over the world as well, and knowing that some audiences will know some of the languages spoken, others will know all, and others will know none, the care that went into the authenticity of the pronunciation is unmatched.
When I got the chance to speak with Amit Cohen and Ron Leshem, I was curious about what they thought was driving the aversion to sub-titles. Cohen revealed that having two screens at the same time is a challenge, and it seems like that really hits the nail on the head. In this digital age, we’re so used to multitasking and scrolling through social media while we watch a show. This is a huge part of why I prefer to see films in the theater, and why I love that No Man’s Land wasn’t dubbed because it required me to put my phone down and pay attention, and I was rewarded with this really beautiful story. Here’s what Amit Cohen shared about the story and characters:
I love the honesty, and it seems like much would have been lost had this show been dubbed. No Man’s Land is relatable because even though it’s a war series, it starts with an ordinary man who gets thrown into the war zone. The audience gets to take this journey with him, evaluating whether they would make the same decisions he does with a family back home but also a new family being created in this new world.
No Man’s Land is emotional, at times terrifying, but always raw and real. The first season is available on Hulu. Ron Leshem and Amit Cohen’s other war series Valley of Tears is available on HBO Max. Also consider checking out these international films.
Obsessed with Hamilton and most things Disney. Gets too attached to TV show characters. Loves a good thriller, but will only tolerate so much blood.
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