Viewers wearing 3-D glasses
American films appear in their original English at Israeli movie theaters, but for Hebrew films, call ahead to check the language of the subtitles. Photo by Bloomberg
Text size

Israel, with its shimmering multiplex theaters and jam-packed calendar of film festivals, offers plenty of movie-going options for a vacationing cinephile. But if your first language isn't Hebrew, make sure you check your facts before purchasing your popcorn and plunking yourself into a plush movie-theater seat.

All Hollywood blockbusters, with the exception of animated flicks, are shown in their original English in Israeli theaters, with Hebrew subtitles below. Take note: Hollywood-made films with chunks of foreign dialogue will have their English subtitles obscured with Hebrew text (as this reporter learned the hard way at a recent viewing of Woody Allen's divine, and Italian-heavy, "To Rome With Love").

Foreign films from other countries are shown in their original language with Hebrew subtitles only, so if you're dying to see the Almodovar flick, you'll have to brush up your high school Spanish or wait for the DVD.

When it comes to Israel's own rich, critically-acclaimed body of Hebrew-language films, most movie theaters offer one or two English-subtitled screenings each week. Catching these films provides you with a great opportunity to polish your Hebrew listening skills without missing any of the action.

Schedules vary by each theater and change by the day, so it's best to simply call the theater, where an (English-speaking) staffer can assure you of the daily subtitle run-down.

The same goes for your favorite cartoon movies: If you're trekking to the theater with English-speaking kiddies in tow, call ahead, or ask when you purchase your tickets, to make sure you aren't walking into a screening dubbed in Hebrew for the non-reading, Israeli small-fry set.