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Finally, someone explains why we all need subtitles

It seems everyone needs subtitles nowadays in order to "hear" the television. This is something that has become more common over the past decade and it's caused people to question if their hearing is going bad or if perhaps actors have gotten lazy with enunciation.

So if you've been wondering if it's just you who needs subtitles in order to watch the latest marathon-worthy show, worry no more. Vox video producer Edward Vega interviewed dialogue editor Austin Olivia Kendrick to get to the bottom of why we can't seem to make out what the actors are saying anymore. It turns out it's technology's fault, and to get to how we got here, Vega and Kendrick took us back in time.

They first explained that way back when movies were first moving from silent film to spoken dialogue, actors had to enunciate and project loudly while speaking directly into a large microphone. If they spoke and moved like actors do today, it would sound almost as if someone were giving a drive-by soliloquy while circling the block. You'd only hear every other sentence or two.

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Pop Culture

Cool video reveals why people in old movies talked funny

This speech pattern isn’t completely British or completely American.

Photo from YouTube video.

What’s up with the funny talk?

There's a distinct accent that American actors and broadcasters used in the early days of radio and in pre-World War II movies. It's most obvious in old newsreel footage where the announcer speaks in a high-pitched tone, omits his "Rs" at the end of words, and sounds like a New Yorker who just returned from a summer holiday with the British royal family.

This speaking style is also heard in the speeches of Franklin D. Roosevelt and just about any performance by Orson Welles. But today, this accent is all but nonexistent, prompting the question: Did Americans speak differently before the advent of television?

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Movie critic Roger Ebert speaking his mind at the Sundance Film Festival.

It’s been ten years since the world lost Roger Ebert to cancer, and his voice is sorely missed. Ebert had a pure love of cinema, and even though he was a film critic in a sweater with a Pulitzer Prize, he wrote and spoke in a way accessible to every man.

He didn’t care if a film was a Hollywood blockbuster or art-house fare; what mattered was whether it deserved his highly-coveted “thumbs up.”

Ebert was an extremely gifted communicator whose interests went far beyond film. In his later years, he often mused about music, politics, and American cultural events with the same eloquence, thoughtfulness and wit.

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Pop Culture

How Gene Wilder came up with Willy Wonka's iconic entrance

He brought so much thought and heart to the character.

upload.wikimedia.org Credit: Warner Bros

Gene Wilder was one of the best.

The late, great Gene Wilder brought us so much magic through his delightfully quirky, timelessly charming, endlessly memorable roles, not least of which is the mysterious, top-hat-wearing chocolate factory owner, Willy Wonka, for the hit film “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

From Wonka’s first entrance, pitifully limping towards Charlie and the other confused golden ticket bearers…all before thrusting himself into an impressive somersault…you knew you really were about to be taken on a fantastical ride of pure imagination.

According to Historic Vids on X, formerly known as Twitter, that beginning moment was entirely by Wilder’s ingenious design.
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