The Secret Deafie: Another cinema subtitle fail

Posted on April 30, 2012



The Secret Deafie is a series of anonymous columns written by different writers. Today’s Deafie tells us about a cinematic subtitle fail.

My partner and I waited in keen anticipation for The Woman in Black to come out with subtitles – perhaps because we had been told it was a good, scary thriller that makes you gasp, clutch each other and scream!

So once it became available with subtitles, we decided to throw ourselves upon the mercy of our local multiplex at the not too ungodly hour of 6.30pm.

Our arrival passed without incident, the assistant processing our ticket payments smoothly, applying our CEA discount, nominating one of us as the ‘Carer’ of the other. (Hmm, dont know about that, but who was I to argue, when we’d paid peanuts to see the film?)

Off we trotted, bypassing the rip off popcorn and hotdogs that were screaming at us from giant placards – we had cannily stuffed ourselves before we came out.

We settled into the comfy auditorium, which had a few other people in it.

The film started to roll, and we looked at each other as if to say ‘will the subtitles work?’

Daniel Radcliffe looked gloomily into a mirror, the suspenseful music rose… still no subtitles, but it was ok. He hadn’t said anything yet.

Then he muttered a womans name.

ARRRRGGGHHH!! No subtitles came up.

At this point, you think what do I do now?’ Wait until the projectionist notices the lack of subtitles, and let them correct it? Or stomp out and find someone to complain to, missing any of the film that might miraculously become subtitled in your absence?

I decided to go and find someone with any kind of authority that could sort this out.

I collared a smartly dressed man near the entrance and told him “the flaming subtitles aren’t on the film!”

His reply was ‘The same thing happened 3 weeks ago’ and to my surprise he used some sign language at the same time. This appeased my anger – at least he was making an effort to sign for deaf customers.

So I asked him what was happening next, and he told me that they were trying to find someone to stop the film and restart it, with titles this time.

In the dark cinema, the film was still rolling, albeit without any subtitles, and the longer it went on, the more I was certain it wouldn’t be restarted.

Eventually,the film stopped, the hearies all looked round in wonderment, and we waited to see what would happen next.

After about five minutes, the lights went down, and a spotty teenaged (apologies to all spotty teenagers) usher came in, and proceeded to shout something loudly into the dark to the room in general.

We collared her and asked what the heck was going on – being deaf, we couldn’t hear her nor lipread in the dark!! She smiled apologetically, gestured to the screen and mouthed `its starting again` Humph.

Five minutes later, guess what….? No subtitles!!!!!!!!! I was ready to kill someone now….

Again, I walked out to find out what was going on, and I saw the same man I saw earlier near the people at desk who were frantically talking into telephones, walkie-talkies in an effort to track down this errant manager.

I was getting ready to give him a piece of my mind when I noticed he was standing in front of the desk, not behind it.

A light bulb lit up in my head.

I realised that the pleasant chap, signing to me earlier to explain what was going on, was in fact, a fellow deaf cinema-goer!

I could have jumped into a large hole at this point.

I apologised for giving him a hard time, but he shrugged it off and smiled. I was saved any further embarassment by the appearance of the manager.

He told us that “all measures were in place to ensure the screening of the film with subtitles” and basically that they had fulfilled their end of the bargain. Right.

The pleasant deaf chap told him that the same thing had happened 3 weeks ago, to which the manager still insisted they had done what was required of them (!) He and his deaf friend then said they wanted refunds.

A full refund and complimentary tickets for any any film, any day, were given to all of us. Small compensation for a wasted evening, and no film either.

We said we certainly wouldn’t be using our free tickets to revisit that cinema.

The manager replied “Well, if you change your mind, please come and say hello and let me know how things went, I like to see customers and I value their feedback”!!!

I’m not sure how soon I’ll be taking the risk of visiting a cinema again.

Do you have a story or experience you’d like to share? If you’d like to write a Secret Deafie column, just email thelimpingchicken@gmail.com

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