Star Wars 1977 movie is getting translated and dubbed into the Diné language, spoken by the Navajo people in southwest United States. The aim is to promote language preservation, as well as strengthening the Navajo culture. Manuelito Wheeler, director of the Navajo Nation Museum is in charge of the project, and he will be working together with Lucasfilm and Deluxe to create the first Hollywood movie translated into a Native American language. Auditions are being held on May 3 and 4, 2013 at the Navajo Nation Museum, and every fluent Navajo speaker who thinks that can faithfully portray the force and emotion of the original words is invited to participate. The movie is expected to premiere for free on July 4, 2013 at a festival at the museum in Window Rock, Arizona.
Meeting the Challenges
The Star Wars movie has been translated in many languages all around the world, spreading messages about the fight between good and evil to various different cultures. This time, the challenge is unique: Translating this movie is a complex process itself due to Star Wars’ very own language, but the descriptive nature of the Navajo language makes complicates the work. To solve the several language problems, Wheeler has gathered a group of linguists and native Navajo speakers and actors who will be working with Richard Epcar, one of the best dubbing directors in the world who has worked in several Academy Award winning films.
Navajo is a descriptive language, which means that, more often than not, several words are needed to refer to the same concept conveyed by only one English word. It is going to be a long and complicated process before the dubbing can be perfect, avoiding situations like that one seen in the old Kung Fu movies, in which the lip movements did not coincide with the speech that could be heard.
The Ultimate Aim
Manuelito Wheeler has been working on getting a popular film dubbed for over three years and was very happy to find out that Lucasfilm Ltd was willing to work with him. The funds for the project are provided by the Navajo Parks and Recreation Department with the aim of helping bridge the gap between two different cultures, at the same time that they stimulate Navajo learning and passion for the mother tongue. Wheeler hopes to show that the Navajo language is still vital and useful today, as well as encourage further investment in the future to finance other projects like this one.