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The Force Awakens sans English Alien Subtitles

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I know from seeing a camera print of a Spanish showing of the film that in the theaters the Alien Subtitles were translated into the local language, but for the blu-ray/DVD release, it seems that the French, Spanish, Italian, and Indian all have English Alien Subtitles burned in. Were they released anywhere with translated Alien Subtitles or with soft subtitles? I think that is just bad taste to leave the English subtitles. That is kind of arrogant for releases in non-English speaking countries. That isn’t typical of Disney or previous Star Wars releases.

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I’ve seen a few reasonably recent US releases (not Disney, though) with burnt-in English subtitles for any theatrically subtitled bits – I’m not sure how unusual that really is. I’d imagine releases in other language markets, even within Region A, might get different treatment, but I have no proof of this. It’s also possible a second set of soft subtitles in addition to the burnt-in subs is how these films are treated internationally. Certainly that’s how the SDH subtitles work in these instances.

Just thinking out loud – not providing justification – but burnt-in subtitles might make multi-format distribution easier. Forget the Blu-rays, consider streaming services. Each service has its own (often partially-baked) subtitling implementation, and it’s doubtful any of them would be able to resemble the theatrical appearance through soft-subs. So you give the streaming services burnt-in subs on your video, and now they’re good to go. Same for DVDs, which, believe it or not, are still as popular a format as Blu-rays. DVD subtitling sucks, and you simply have to use burnt-in subtitles if you want them to look even half decent. That’s not to say they couldn’t use two different digital masters – one with burnt-in subs and one without – but I’m saying that there’s a pretty clear need for the master with the burnt-in subs, and someone would have had to convince a PHB at Disney not to just go ahead and use that one for the Blu-rays too.

Also, doing it “right” (burnt-in, but on a per-language branch, handling localized crawls as well) would have involved a lot of seamless branching. IIRC Disney pushed seamless branching to its limits not as a localization tool, but as a copy protection scheme, and they ended up with lots of upset customers and returned discs. Maybe they talked about localization, heard the words “seamless branching”, and bailed.

Project Threepio (Star Wars OOT subtitles)

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Well, it means that TFA is inferior for viewing in other languages compared to the first 6 films on DVD and bluray. I personally like to turn of the subtitles or be able to change their placement.

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The German version is also with the burnt-in English alien subtitles. This kind of treatment is actually incomprehensible, as Disney actually went and provided multi-angle solutions for the film intro (“A long time ago…”/Textcrawl).

The optimal solution would have been to use a “clean” master without subtitles and use player-generated subtitles for each respective language. On BluRay, these player-generated subtitles can even replicate the look and feel of the theatrical subs quite well.

I see this development as a result of cost-cutting throughout the film industry apparent in later years. For example: in 2002-2004 the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy (New Line Cinema) was released on DVD with burnt-in subtitles for Elvish in USA, and with a clean master outside the USA (so that Elvish subtitles could be player-generated). Same is valid for the LOTR BluRay releases (which were released some years later). However, on “The Hobbit” (Warner Bros., 2013-2015), there was only one video master per DVD/BluRay release worldwide: one with burnt-in Elvish/Orkish subtitles in English. Okay, that cuts the costs for encoding by 50%. Still, it’s not nice.

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yotsuya said:
That is kind of arrogant for releases in non-English speaking countries. That isn’t typical of Disney or previous Star Wars releases.

I think this might take the cake for most hypersensitive pointless bitching I’ve ever seen on the internet. Congratulations, sir. You overcame a lot of very steep competition to take that prize.

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doubleofive said:

They worked damn hard to digitally recreate the original English theatrical subtitle font, timing, and placement, and you just want to get rid of it! 😉

:\ fixed: by the way Dinsey handled it, no one is able to watch TFA as it was in theaters, except for those living in English-speaking countries.

Density said:

yotsuya said:
That is kind of arrogant for releases in non-English speaking countries. That isn’t typical of Disney or previous Star Wars releases.

I think this might take the cake for most hypersensitive pointless bitching I’ve ever seen on the internet. Congratulations, sir. You overcame a lot of very steep competition to take that prize.

Have you ever seen a movie with burned-in subtitles written in a language you don’t understand? Do you know how jarring it is?
EDIT: What’s annoying is that, since they did it right for TFA’s theatrical run, they could’ve done it right for the home-video as well, but they deliberately decided not to.

The Original Trilogy’s Timeline Reconstruction: http://originaltrilogy.com/forum/topic.cfm/Implied-starting-date-of-the-Empire-from-OT-dialogue/post/786201/#TopicPost786201

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yotsuya said:

Well, it means that TFA is inferior for viewing in other languages compared to the first 6 films on DVD and bluray.

Agreed.

I personally like to turn of the subtitles or be able to change their placement.

That wasn’t an option theatrically, so there’s no reason to expect it on DVD or Blu-ray. It’s only useful in the sense that you can make your own edit of the film, and it’s a side-effect of one of the strategies they could employ to make better localized versions (but not at all a requirement for other, IMO better, strategies like seamless branching). Making life easier on fan editors isn’t really a scenario I expect studios to consider when they release a film. Watching TFA without alien subtitles is not really different than watching TPM without Jar-Jar. It might be nice, some might even prefer it, but it simply isn’t the same as the film that was shown in theatres anywhere in the world.

Project Threepio (Star Wars OOT subtitles)