Going to the Cinema in France- VO vs VF

Going to the cinema can be complicated in France. There are a few choices to make beforehand, specifically on if you are going to see the movie in V.O. (Version Originale, or Original Version, aka the language in which the movie was created, such as English, German, etc. but with French subtitles) or in V.F. (Version française, aka French Version, which means the film is dubbed from its original language into French.)

If you live in a large enough town, chances are there are at least two movie theaters- one that shows the movie in VF and one in VO. (For example, one of the most popular chains is Pathé, which is kind of like Marcus and is all around Europe). When you’re picking your movie date and time, you just also check to see if after the title it lists VF or VO. Additionally, outside the theaters on the movie advertisements, it will usually list the movie times and then either VO or VF. Living in France, I have found that each individual has their own preference– the majority of my French friends, as well as my host sister Florence and her husband Jean-Claude prefer VO. They like hearing the original voices and don’t mind just reading subtitles (most French people learn better English this way too). My host brother Jean-Baptiste, however, prefers VF. He much prefers just hearing and experiencing the storyline in his own language.

Myself, I prefer VO, but sometimes I enjoy watching movies I already know in VF because it improves my comprehension in French. When I was in Normandy, I watched a bunch of The Walking Dead episodes with my host brother in French, but I felt the VF missed some of the dramatic voices and emotions that went along with intense scenes (but maybe that’s something that will come with my improvement in French). I am anxiously awaiting Catching Fire as well as La Tête Chinoise, two movies I will prefer seeing in VO (English and French).

Do you prefer VO or VF?



13 thoughts on “Going to the Cinema in France- VO vs VF

  1. This is super useful thank you! And it is Dec 2017 and you still came up first in google.fr search 😉 – Going to take a peek at the rest of your blog now!

  2. Thanks Dana. I just got to Paris today and I want to see the new Star Wars movie. I knew the VO and VF was the key to selecting which version to watch and your article helped me perfectly. Also you showed up as the number one result in my Google search! Thanks!

  3. Strictly speaking, this isn’t correct. In the digital cinema world – OV stands for original version, VF stands for Version file, not specifically for a french version. The VF file doesn’t contain the movie itself but supplementary information that goes along with the OV in the cinema server. The VF file could contain subtitles, language information etc, but this could be for any territory not just for France.


    1. I agree! I saw Catching Fire in French last year, but it wasn’t the same! Luckily I had the background knowledge of the story so the film made sense! 🙂

  5. I refuse to watch American films in VF. I don’t watch French films dubbed in English, so why would I watch American films dubbed in French? If I caught something on TV, that was one thing, but I was definitely not willing to pay high movie prices for something not with the original actors’ voices.

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