What English language US films and TV shows don't actually use English?
August 22, 2022 12:07 PM   Subscribe

I've been watching Only Murders in the Building and just got through episode 7, "The Boy from 6B", which has a fair amount of ASL but no spoken dialogue. I'm wondering what other US / ostensible English language media similarly doesn't actually use spoken English.

I can't find it now but I'm very sure there's an episode of The Expanse which is entirely in Belter Creole. Similar would be the recent film Prey which, yes, was filmed in English but has a dub with the original actors speaking Comanche.

I like the idea of something that is otherwise a mainstream English language production that, surprise, all of a sudden isn't in English. Are there other episodes of TV or versions of US films like this?
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug to Media & Arts (28 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Westworld Season 3, episode 8, "Kiksuya" is mostly in Lakota with English subtitles.
posted by assenav at 12:09 PM on August 22, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Passion of the Christ is a US-made film for US audiences which is in Aramaic, Hebrew and Latin with English sub-titles.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:16 PM on August 22, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: There's an episode of Rami (Ne Me Quitte Pas) that is almost entirely in French.
posted by roolya_boolya at 12:17 PM on August 22, 2022

FYI Only Murders season 2, episode 7 has more long stretches with no dialogue or reduced dialogue, with that same character. IIRC, it's not the whole episode, though.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:18 PM on August 22, 2022

The series Los Espookys is about half and half English and Spanish, always with subtitles in the opposite language.
posted by moonmilk at 12:27 PM on August 22, 2022 [7 favorites]

How absolute is the requirement?

The Buffy episode Hush has a stretch with no dialogue (as the characters are magically silenced) for about 30 minutes of it's ~42 minute runtime. The Prisoner episode Many Happy Returns starts with The Village being mysteriously abandoned and zero dialogue for the first 30 minutes or so.
posted by mark k at 12:29 PM on August 22, 2022 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Season 3 ep 4 of Bojack Horseman, A Fish Out of Water is almost entirely silent, because it’s from the point of view of the main character, who is underwater and has to wear a breathing helmet that makes it impossible for him to speak or hear, but presumably the other undersea denizens are able to communicate and hear just fine. Extremely effective and cool.
posted by Secretariat at 12:34 PM on August 22, 2022 [11 favorites]

Response by poster: How absolute is the requirement?

I don't want any spoken English. Ideally there would be some other language or communication (ASL in my example, Lakota in the Westworld episode) but I'd be OK with whatever I can get that has zero spoken English even though it's a American production* where the cast and crew would have been generally speaking English as they work together. Kiksuya and Passion of the Christ are both great examples.

*Doesn't have to be filmed here, I know a lot of TV is filmed in Canada and movies are filmed all over, but I'm not looking for foreign films.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 12:35 PM on August 22, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: An episode of Inside No. 9 called “A Quiet Night In” is pretty much dialogue free, and is told through silent physical comedy instead.
posted by greycap at 12:35 PM on August 22, 2022 [3 favorites]

The new Predator sequel, Prey, apparently has a official dub in the Comanche language; there are white people in the film but they speak French (which they do even in the English language version, to show the natives can't understand them, except for a white person who does speak their language).

Edit: sorry, failed reading comprehension that you mention this in your [more inside]
posted by AzraelBrown at 12:43 PM on August 22, 2022

Best answer: Incubus is in Esperanto.
posted by brainwane at 1:15 PM on August 22, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Does the Canadian/French copro Quest For Fire count?
posted by Ten Cold Hot Dogs at 1:22 PM on August 22, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Not sure if it qualifies as it's not American but it is a production from an English-speaking country - Nude Tuesday is a New Zealand comedy film where all the dialogue is spoken in a fictional language, with English subtitles written by writers who were not shown the original screenplay.
posted by limnerent at 1:24 PM on August 22, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: There's an episode of Switched at Birth called "Uprising" where the dialogue is entirely in ASL.
posted by champers at 1:42 PM on August 22, 2022

A Quiet Place is mostly in ASL.
posted by chrisulonic at 1:52 PM on August 22, 2022

Best answer: The makers of the Welsh detective show Hinterland filmed each scene twice—once with the dialogue in English and once in Welsh. Both the English language and Welsh language versions have been aired internationally.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:53 PM on August 22, 2022 [3 favorites]

The most recent episode of What We Do In The Shadows featured Guillermo's family speaking Spanish to each other, and the closed-captioning was in Spanish as well, at least at my house.

The DIsney film Encanto, set in Colombia, featured several songs in Spanish, including the sob-inducing, Oscar-nominated Dos Oruguitas. (In the case of Encanto, closed-captioning translated into English.)
posted by Sweetie Darling at 1:56 PM on August 22, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Most of the back half of the second season of Undone (Amazon in the US) is in Spanish. Can't remember if any of the episodes completely lacked any English, but really the bulk of it is in Spanish.
posted by General Malaise at 2:10 PM on August 22, 2022

Best answer: Your question and follow-up are ambiguous re: English-speaking but non-American countries, but I'll throw in the Australian film Samson and Delilah. It's been a while since I've seen it but I believe there is no dialogue at all.
posted by Athanassiel at 2:58 PM on August 22, 2022

Best answer: BFI 10 great films with little or no dialogue

IMDb Minimal Dialogue Movies (some of these have enough dialogue to barely qualify)

(some of the these are "foreign" films, sorry about that. 2 no-dialogue films that stick in my mind are 'Le Dernier Combat' FR 1983, and 'The Illusionist' NL 1983)
posted by ovvl at 4:43 PM on August 22, 2022 [1 favorite]

There's an episode of The Prisoner called "Many Happy Returns" with no dialogue in the first half except a few overheard lines of German. The framing of many of the shots in the silent half is reminiscent of comic book style
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:48 PM on August 22, 2022

Best answer: I think Master of None had a mostly (all?) Italian episode in Season 2. Also a section in one episode that was silent, with deaf characters.
posted by pinochiette at 4:57 PM on August 22, 2022 [1 favorite]

I can't say that there are full episodes without English spoken dialogue, but there are long segments of Hawkeye where the character's interactions are signed.

I know it's Canadian, but Bon Cop, Bad Cop is really an interesting exercise. The dialogue switches back and forth from English to French at the drop of a hat (depending on where the action is located, which characters are involved in the scenes, etc.).
posted by sardonyx at 5:21 PM on August 22, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: This is probably not at all the genre you're interested in, but...Shaun the Sheep has no intelligible dialogue.
posted by daisystomper at 7:56 PM on August 22, 2022 [2 favorites]

In the The Magicians season 3, episode 8, “Six Short Stories about Magic,” one of the sequences is in ASL.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 8:20 PM on August 22, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Apocalypto

all dialogue is in a modern approximation of the ancient language of the setting. Here, the Indigenous Yucatec Mayan language is spoken with subtitles, which sometimes refer to the language as Mayan.
posted by jpeacock at 11:44 AM on August 24, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks all!
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 1:39 PM on August 24, 2022

Primal on HBOMax has almost no dialog and the main character speaks no language at all.
posted by billsaysthis at 10:22 PM on August 24, 2022

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