Aftermath

The first official response regarding the outrage about alternate subtitles on the Let The Right One In DVD and Bluray, which Icons of Fright wrote about two days ago and which I reported yesterday morning, came from a senior Magnolia guy. “Apparently we were supplied with two different translations by the producers,” he explained, “and for some reason the DVD division used the alternate subtitles for the DVD.

Yeah, but what reason? I never got a clearly worded reply on this.

The Magnolia guy emphasized, however, that “there was no conscious decision to ‘dumb the film down’, which is absurd because the theatrical titles were perfectly understandable and accessible.”

And yet a piece of reporting that was posted yesterday on The Digital Bits revealed that the person who changed the subtitles works for Magnet, the Magnolia distribution arm for oddball films. One presumes that the decision was a conscious (as opposed to unconscious or subconscious) one on someone’s part. As the general consensus is that the alternate subtitles represent a kind of dumbing down of the film’s dialogue, it is therefore fair to say that the subtitles were consciously dumbed down.

The bottom line is that some Magnet person felt that subtitles that were simpler, less wordy, and more American-ized sounding would play better with the DVD market, which is thought to be a little more downscale that the folks who pay to see films of this type in art theatres,.

A Magnet spoksperson said the following to the Digital Bits: “We’ve been made aware that there are several fans that don’t like the version of the subtitles on the DVD/BR. We had an alternate translation that we went with. Obviously a lot of fans thought we should have stuck with the original theatrical version. We are listening to the fans feedback, and going forward we will be manufacturing the discs with the subtitles from the theatrical version.”

Digital Bits asked Magnet how people will be able to identify the new discs, when they’ll be available in stores and if there will be an exchange program for those who have the existing version.

“There are no exchanges,” Magnet replied. “We are going to make an alternate version available however. For those that wish to purchase a version with the theatrical subtitles, it will be called out in the tech specs box at the back/bottom of the package where it will list SUBTITLES: ENGLISH (Theatrical), SPANISH.”

All the fans want is for Magnolia to put this person on a downtown Manhattan street at a designated time and location any time over the next couple of weekends. This person will be the fox. The hounds — i.e., the fans who were so outraged by this decision and will now have to purchase an extra DVD or Bluray of LTROI when the corrected version appears — will agree to give the fox a two-block lead. The fox agrees not to take a subway or a cab. He/she will have to stay on foot during the entire chase. The hounds agree not to physically harm the fox when he/she is caught, although the throwing of fruit and vegetables will be allowed.

  • Josh Massey

    I’m not understanding the continued “outrage” – it seems the company is doing everything right in the aftermath of a silly decision.

    Oh, and if somebody out there is truly outraged over the wording of a film’s subtitles, they must be leading an otherwise charmed life.

  • actionman

    this is a disaster for anyone who cared about the film they saw in the theaters

  • Fygar

    Josh-

    Charmed life or no, this is not an issue of “wording”. This is an issue of translation. I couldn’t see the movie in the theater due to my charmed life of kids and jobs and (singular) wife. Even the small sampling of examples on the in the post from Icons of Fright indicates that the DVD I saw the other night was a less subtle, less dense, less layered experience of the film.

    While I’m not outraged necessarily, I’d like to think that, when I watch a DVD, I’m seeing the same version that everyone who was able to see the movie in theaters, saw.

    I’d be similarly pissed if someone dubbed all the fart jokes out of Paul Blart DVD with the sound of someone thinking really deeply.

  • arturobandini2

    Josh, for me it’s more important to get nuance from a subtitle rather than the general gist — which you usually get from the visuals anyway. I had just taken my LTROI disc out of the plastic, so this really burns me.

    Dumbing down happens every day, every minute, every nano-second, on every level, in this biz. Everyone here assumes he or she is too smart for the room — oh, the irony! — and makes creative choices accordingly. I like to see French movies with a French friend, so he can elbow me when a subtitle misses the mark. I was black and blue after The Class.

  • Sabina E

    Josh, I am VERY outraged over this because I want to have the full experience of understanding a Swedish film that I did not catch in the cinema (it never came out where I live), so I saw it on DVD. but alas, they think we Americans are “stupid” and that we need dumbed down subtitles.

    Yeah, sorry, excuse me for being outraged over something so trivial.

  • Krazy Eyes

    Josh, If you’re annoyed at people getting “outraged” about issues related to film, no matter how trivial you think those issues are, you’re spending your time reading the wrong blog.

  • UglyRedHonda

    The kind of person that would need the subtitles dumbed down is the kind of person that would never watch a subtitled film.

    Not having an exchange is inexcusable. If the original decision was as justifiable as Magnet seems to be claiming, then only a handful would take up the offer of an exchange.

    And would it have been such a big deal to include both sets of subtitles?

  • MilkMan

    I have always maintained that it’s not the American people en masse who are stupid, it’s the American people WHO WORK IN THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY who are stupid, and, thusly, the rest of us take the brunt of their stupidity. They dumb down everything for themselves, and then point the finger at us to cover their own asses. If people knew how many functionally illiterate people were working at the talent agencies alone they would not believe it.

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    I co-sign Milkman and UglyRedHonda.

  • pdxfilmfan

    Has there been any word about expected date for the corrected Blu-Ray/DVD? Can’t seem to find that info anywhere (and don’t want to buy the old version too early on Amazon). Thanks!

  • actionman

    “If people knew how many functionally illiterate people were working at the talent agencies alone they would not believe it.”

    So true. So amazingly true.

  • the400blows

    Today it’s common to see subtitles in everything from network TV shows (e.g., LOST) and Oscar-winning films (e.g., SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE). There’s no need to “dumb them down.” One of the reasons I liked SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE was because it didn’t “dumb down” to the audience. It consisted of things that major Hollywood studios would probably never had allowed to be in the film: subtitles and Bollywood music.

  • DeafBrownTrashPunk

    Josh, I am VERY outraged over this because I want to have the full experience of understanding a Swedish film that I did not catch in the cinema (it never came out where I live), so I saw it on DVD. but alas, they think we Americans are “stupid” and that we need dumbed down subtitles.

    Yeah, sorry, excuse me for being outraged over something so trivial.

  • DeafBrownTrashPunk

    I co-sign Milkman and UglyRedHonda.

  • polarbear2

    Milkman, why pick on Americans in the film industry? Have you ever watched an American film dubbed or subtitled for foreign audiences? These foreign distributers can’t even get the titles right. (In China ‘Lost in Translation’ became ‘Lost in Tokyo’. I don’t think they were being ironic.)

  • Floyd Thursby

    BBC America showed the third episode of ASHES TO ASHES, the sequel to the original LIFE ON MARS, last Saturday with subtitles for the thick prole accents. Didn’t do so for first two episodes. Would love to know what Gene Hunt would say about this.

  • slutsky

    Bad news.

    Canadian (Mongrel) version appears to have the newer, less-sophisticated subtitles. Also it defaults to the dubbed version as well… dammit.

  • D.Z.

    polarbear: Lost in Translation wouldn’t sell the same way in China, since they aren’t as out of touch as the characters in the film.

  • slutsky

    Now I’m hearing that Magnolia ISN’T issuing a new version, that this was just an internet rumour. Confirm/deny anyone?

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    Strange how you never were able to discredit all the subtle clues that several posters pointed to that make the case that Taking Chance is just as easily read as an anti-Iraq War film. Music degree AND diploma science AND accounting diploma

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  • Tom anderson

    They should have provided both subtitle versions from the beginning and in the same DVD. Maybe they have planned for all this so people will buy an extra DVD to get the corrected version.

  • gaintwee

    Perhaps Kirk Honeycutt now believes in consensus–like a lot of the writers about critics’ awards do. free voip international Online Marketing degree AND Project Management degree AND Online computer Science school AND Online management degree AND Online Information Technology degree

  • jimb12345

    This is causing so much problems. This is so crazy to think about.

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