Bad Subtitles

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Olivia_y
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Bad Subtitles

Postby Olivia_y » Tue Mar 19, 2013 2:40 pm

The movie was officially released in mainland China on the 28th of February; given the dubious nature of copyright reinforcement there, many existing fans of the book or musical have already seen it via various means, but the official release did bring in quite a surge in discussions.

I was looking forward to reading reviews of performances/singing/visuals etc, but I was surprised that the biggest point of discussion (or complaint, rather) upon the film's release was the poor quality of the subtitles. Among the 'highlights' include:
    'Retrive the flag' - 'Put the flag down';
    'He took my childhood in his price, but he was gone when Autumn came' - 'He took my virginity and he left as soon as I had the baby';
    'Don't you fret, Monsieur Marius' - 'Aren't you worried, Monsieur Marius?"
    'God on high' - 'Oh my God'
The weird thing is, these 'official' subtitles are a lot poorer than the numerous amateur versions that have been around for a long time (available on both the TAC and 25AC). So bad that people have wondered whether it was done on purpose.

(In fact, there is a rumour that the interpreters who worked on these subtitles were given instructions from 'certain places' to deliberately make the subtitles awful and confusing, so that people won't really understand what the story was actually about. Anyone who's vaguely familiar with China's recent history can probably guess which aspects this refers to. But there's no confirmation of this, and there probably won't ever be.)
Last edited by Olivia_y on Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Aurelia Combeferre
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Re: Bad Subtitles

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Tue Mar 19, 2013 2:52 pm

Honestly I am *not* surprised with the quality of the subtitles. Sometimes Chinese translators (really, any translators for that matter) have difficulty finding certain equivalents in the Chinese language since it is so different from English.

As for the rumor.... :lol: :lol: Not surprised either, and I believe that when there is a will, there's a way and people will find the correct subtitles no matter what.
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Olivia_y
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Re: Bad Subtitles

Postby Olivia_y » Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:04 pm

I wouldn't have been surprised if it was just a little off, in a lost-in-translation sort of way, but it's so off that it's laughable, and even people with a passing knowledge of English were like :shock: :? :lol:

And it's not like these are from bad bootleg DVDs. It's like they didn't even try (or maybe 'tried' in a wrong way. Lol...)

(As for people finding the correct subtitles - most already have :D )

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Re: Bad Subtitles

Postby Aurelia Combeferre » Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:12 pm

Olivia_y wrote:I wouldn't have been surprised if it was just a little off, in a lost-in-translation sort of way, but it's so off that it's laughable, and even people with a passing knowledge of English were like :shock: :? :lol:

And it's not like these are from bad bootleg DVDs. It's like they didn't even try (or maybe 'tried' in a wrong way. Lol...)

(As for people finding the correct subtitles - most already have :D )


Which proves that quote of Hugo's that "an invasion of armies can be stopped but not an idea when its time has come." :D
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Re: Bad Subtitles

Postby Prisoner 24653 » Tue Mar 19, 2013 5:19 pm

:lol: Oh wow, that's pretty hilarious (and sad at the same time). I wouldn't be surprised if it *was* done on purpose; I've heard stories about similarly bad translations done for The Lord of the Rings (not sure if it was the books, movies, or both).

These remind me of the infamously bad English subtitles in the Chinese bootleg of Star Wars Episode III ("Jedi Council" became "Presbyterian Church," and "Darth Vader" became "Reaching the West of the Reaches," among others), except that this is an official version and even the bootlegs are better! :lol:

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Re: Bad Subtitles

Postby Acaila » Tue Mar 19, 2013 6:14 pm

Oh now that is an *interesting* rumour indeed!
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Re: Bad Subtitles

Postby Prisoner 24653 » Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:12 pm

If the bad subtitling really was politically motivated, though, then we might expect that the student revolutionaries' lines would be really severely butchered -- the National Guard might be changed into a foreign invading army, or stuff like that. Does anyone know if that's the case here?

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Re: Bad Subtitles

Postby Acaila » Tue Mar 19, 2013 10:55 pm

It'd be really interesting to find out some more translations.
Revolution: like Christmas come early only with more death
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"Les Amis Fun Package - The Awesome Traits of Each"
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Re: Bad Subtitles

Postby Olivia_y » Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:31 am

Prisoner 24653 wrote:If the bad subtitling really was politically motivated, though, then we might expect that the student revolutionaries' lines would be really severely butchered -- the National Guard might be changed into a foreign invading army, or stuff like that. Does anyone know if that's the case here?


Oddly enough it wasn't; the original novel wasn't banned or anything and a lot of people are familiar with the story (which makes the whole situation even more bizarre). Since it happened in France (and was a tragic failure) probably had something to do with that...although I'm only guessing. I'm pretty sure words like 'revolution' have been censored, but I don't think the plot was changed that much.

Another weird change: "we will walk behind the ploughshare, we will put away the sword" became "we will never again use violence" (or something along those lines); people have pointed out that makes it sound like the students are repentant for the uprising...which kinda messes up the whole sentiment of the song.

If the rumour is true...it's kind of ironic since it means they're seriously underestimating their own education system.

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Re: Bad Subtitles

Postby Courgette » Thu Mar 21, 2013 5:38 am

'Les Misérables' actually got released in China???
:shock: :shock:

Biggest shock of the year IMHO. And no, I'm not overreacting...

I seriously thought that film might have got banned there or something...I mean, one of the songs is about fighting against oppression.
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Olivia_y
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Re: Bad Subtitles

Postby Olivia_y » Thu Mar 21, 2013 3:11 pm

Courgette wrote:I seriously thought that film might have got banned there or something...I mean, one of the songs is about fighting against oppression.


Ironically enough the lyrics of that song is remarkably similar to China's national anthem... :?

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Re: Bad Subtitles

Postby gazza » Thu Sep 12, 2013 7:07 am

This is a little off topic, but this thread reminds me of some particularly funny subtitles I found on a torrented copy of the 2012 musical. Simply put, the subtitler had subbed literally everything. My friend and I laughed the whole way through, especially at the subtitles for the sound effects.

I've since lost this copy, but here are some I still remember:

In the intro; [DRUMS BEATING RHYTHMICALLY]
In Who Am I; [URGING HORSE]
And my all time favourite, during the Epilogue; [ALL VOCALIZING]

-G

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Re: Bad Subtitles

Postby Prisoner 24653 » Thu Sep 12, 2013 5:37 pm

Heh... A lot of official subtitles for movies and TV shows also do that (captioning everything including sound effects). So I don't think that torrent of LM is the most egregious example.

That reminds me of one really odd, OT thing I noticed -- in the DVD of Across the Universe, they captioned all the lines, but not the songs! It seems they figure everyone, even those who are deaf, should know all the lyrics to "Happiness Is A Warm Gun." :lol: Or maybe it was a copyright thing, but you'd think being allowed to use a bunch of Beatles songs in a movie would give the makers the leeway to caption them all, as well.


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