Subtitling Case Study: The Language on Barely Anyone’s Lips
CMI’s portfolio of work includes audio, video, podcasts, apps, and of course film — the original medium where we made our mark decades ago working with major movie studios, and still do today.
After more than 50 years handling films, we often think we’ve seen it all. Huge blockbusters and small indie projects, working in more than 150 languages — we approach all the projects with the same care and best practices that put us on Hollywood’s map in the first place.
What new challenges can there be?
There are always new challenges that can arise — say, localizing dialects spoken by only a few people in the world, for example.
Case in point: The 2014 release Viktor, a Franco/Russian film starring Gerard Depardieu and Elizabeth Hurley. The movie is about an art thief investigating the murder of his son. The project was initially filmed entirely in Russia and the Chechen capital of Grozny.
Our client needed a scene translated from an obscure dialect of Chechen — so obscure, in fact, that only 40 people are currently known to speak it. Even more challenging was the fact that the scene had folklore idioms associated with it, as well as children speaking. Through considerable research and networking, on a tight deadline no less, we found a knowledgeable Chechen-American to translate the scene.
What difference would it have made to use regular garden-variety Chechen? It’s about credibility and attention to detail. Because if anyone with an expertise in Russian and Chechen were to watch the movie — and indeed, given the subject matter, it would have natural appeal to that target audience — it wouldn’t pass the smell test.
The minute a film wavers in its authenticity, it risks losing the respect of its audience.
That’s something CMI knows is a primary concern to our clients. Which is why our ability to work in over 150 languages and source talent as needed distinguishes us from other localization vendors.