Posted on Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 by David Chen
About a week ago, we reported on the fact that the North American DVD/Blu-Ray release for Tomas Alfredson’s Let The Right One In had its subtitles completely butchered. Understandably, many fans of the DVD were incensed and took to the interwebs to voice their discontentment. The din grew so loud that Magnet/Magnolia responded by adding on a theatrical English subtitle track to the discs, although it would not offer exchanges for the hardcore fans of the movie who undoubtedly went and purchased the initial inferior discs right after they were released. Well, at least they were being sensitive to some of the fans, right?
As it turns out, no.
A comment post at Icons of Fright reveals an internal communication about the topic of the subtitles that Magnolia Pictures sent to Mongrel Media, who is handling the Canadian release of the film. It reads:
Yes the bloggers are having a field day on this one. Normally they like to pick on the English Dub tracks, but in this case it’s the subtitles. Obviously online tend to get rowdy and bandwagon mentality without knowing all the details. The current subtitle track is not altering the context of the film at all, in fact it’s a more literal translation than any prior version of subtitles. It’s not a defective or faulty subtitle file. Just more literal and larger in size for the small screen. Both English and Spanish subtitle files were produced for this dvd release. Frankly it’s not all that uncommon to have the subs vary from prior releases, typically go unnoticed as subs are purely a translation of film dialogue. This wouldn’t have been a blip had it not been for one particular horror blog doing a side by side and claiming that they are wrong. They are not. We are not doing a recall or anything of that nature, again, these are not defective. Title came out two weeks ago and general public don’t notice and don’t care – bloggers are well known for jumping on something, making an issue of it and moving on. We have decided that based on the feedback that we will be making a running change, so that going forward (once inventories deplete), we will be making that subtitle version available. Options in set up will be; English Subtitles / English (theatrical) Subtitles / Spanish Subtitles”
Great job marginalizing the biggest fans of your movie, Magnolia! I haven’t had time to do a side-by-side comparison, nor do I know Swedish, but from what I’ve heard, Magnolia’s claim that the new subtitles represent a “more literal translation” seem inaccurate at best and disingenuous at worst. Also, Icons’ side-by-side comparison speaks for itself, despite this statement’s attempts at dismissing it. But it’s okay because the “general public” won’t care, so fans of the movie shouldn’t either, right?
On top of that, I would say to Magnolia/Magnet that there are two things you shouldn’t do if you want to shut bloggers up regarding a specific topic: 1) Acquiesce to their demands (as you did, and rightfully so), and 2) Call them mindless, bandwagon-hopping drones. I’m guessing that doing either or both of those probably won’t make us go away, and in fact, will probably just make us raise our voices even louder. In any case, I would encourage you to continue down this path, Magnolia. It’s clearly bearing fruit.
[Thanks to /Filmcast listener Greg for the tip! I've contacted Magnolia for comment on this story but thus far, they have not provided a comment.]
You can reach David Chen at davechensemail(AT)gmail(DOT)com.