Subtitle Me This

I will be getting a visitor from the UK later this month, and one of the films I have on DVD that I’d like to show him is the grandiose Studio Ghibli feature film Spirited Away. But, I have the Norwegian released version of the film, which only has Danish and Norwegian subtitles, whereas the available spoken languages are only the original Japanese or a Danish dub. (Why they didn’t dub this in Norway is beyond me, as it’s probably.) So, no English subtitles, so my English speaking friend would not be able to watch and understand this DVD version of the film. Ironically, on the back of the DVD the film’s subtitles and audio tracks, as well as its extra features, are announced in English. So it literally reads “Subtitles in Danish and Norwegian” rather than “Undertekster pÃ¥ dansk og norsk”.

Fortunately I have a friend who owns a non-Norwegian copy of the film which comes complete with English subtitles, and I’ll be able to borrow this copy from him, but it’s still highly annoying.

Why can’t all DVDs come with English subtitles? It’s the world’s leading language! At the very least it should be included on DVDs released to the western markets, where a high percentage are fluent in the language. Is it really that difficult  to include an additional subtitle track? It definitely doesn’t eat up too much space on the disc; it’s just text, combined with some sort of data file dictating when what text will appear on the screen. Surely, the absence of English subtitles from DVDs is a vicious a ploy from the fascist world government to keep the working man down, as the working man will have to use all his hard earned money on buying additional import copies of DVDs to get the English subtitles he so craves, and in effect will have to live under sub-standard living conditions.

I’m guessing there’s not a big demand among the average Norwegian consumers, but there are DVDs out there I have chosen not to buy due to a lack of English subtitles. I was actually recently contemplating buying another Studio Ghibli DVD from a Norwegian store, Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind, but when I saw that it only had Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish subtitles, I decided against it. There’s also at least one DVD where the inclusion of English subtitles was a big selling point (or should that be buying point?) for me, namely the special edition version of the Norwegian film Elling, one of my all time favourite films. Definitely not something I’d expect them to include with a Norwegian release of a Norwegian film (due to my past subtitle experiences). The king of subtitles in my DVD collection is definitely The Lost Boys though, the first DVD I ever purchased, which includes subtitles in 19 different languages (including English) – plus three subtitle tracks for the hearing impaired!

Why can’t more DVDs be like The Lost Boys


This entry was actually started on a while back, and as of publication my visiting Englishman has come and gone. I did borrow the DVD from my friend, but we unfortunately didn’t have the time to watch it. We will eventually visit one another again though, in which case I’ll once again need to get my hands on an English subtitled version of the DVD if we wish to watch it together.

Another film I realized may want to show him is the quirky (and award winning!) Japanese samurai film Zatoichi, another one of my favourites, but my Norwegian version of this DVD is again without English subtitles. Perhaps we’ll just have to screw the man and try turning to piracy to have our subtitle needs met.

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