Subtitles to unite four languages in Woodwind

Over the last few days Fin Pictures has been busy inserting additional English subtitles on the feature film, Woodwind.

Director Fin Manjoo has taken the decision to insert English subtitles even for spoken English in his film, for starters at least when screened in the European festival circuit and explains the reasons.

There’s four distinct languages in the film: Spanish, English, German and Hindi. Only the latter isn’t used as much because Indian characters speak to the foreign characters in the common language of English.

English is also used as a common language when our Spanish  and German characters speak to one another. This is expected but there are special reasons for subtitling the English in English:

  • The foreign languages make up more than half of the movie.
  • Apart from these languages, even the English is spoken in four totally different styles/accents.
  • Fin Pictures didn’t want to use a universal accent, but intended that the characters speak in their original, authentic styles. The accents include Argentinian, American (USA), Indian and Swiss German.
  • The filmmakers felt that it was one thing to read the subtitles of the different languages but using English subtitles throughout the film would create a consistent base throughout the movie. This advantage would already be felt when subtitles are read in different languages such as French or Italian.
  • Fin Pictures has taken the lead from some British films that provide English subtitles for their English speaking characters due to strong accents.

Manjoo on English subtitles for English:

“In the film you’re already immersed in an exotic soundscape with an amazing music soundtrack which is another language on its own, then there’s the different spoken languages and English styles,” said Manjoo.

“I’ve directed a small film festival in Central Europe and lived in that region for about three years. English subtitles for English films are common there.

“One of the best films (I wouldn’t say here which one) won at a leading festival and was nominated for Best Film at the US Academy Awards… English is my first language but when I re-watched that English film in English subtitles, the entire viewing experience was vastly improved and emotionally transformed.

“English subtitles benefit films with poetic English verse.”

“Also it’s not about hearing and understanding, but if English is not your first language, it will take greater effort to pick up these accents quickly, so now you can stay in tune with all,” said Manjoo.

While this approach will be used in the cinema, Fin Pictures will remove the subtitles when Woodwind is released on Blu-ray and DVD, for viewers to select which one/if any they want. The trailer will also be an exception.

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