'Star Wars' dubbed into Navajo gets film premiere

"Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope" has the honor of being the first major motion picture to be dubbed into the Navajo language.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read
"Star Wars" poster
"Star Wars" is getting a dubbing makeover. Lucasfilm

"Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope" is getting a new premiere on July 3 in Window Rock, Arizona, more than 36 years after it first opened in theaters. This version is a little different.

Instead of hearing the voices of actors Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, and James Earl Jones, some lesser-known voice actors are getting a shot. This version will also be in Navajo.

"This was an idea that I felt was a way to promote our culture, promote our language, a way to save our language. There are definitely Star Wars nerds out there who can repeat that movie verbatim, and they speak no Navajo. And so when they're watching this and it's in Navajo, it's them learning Navajo," Navajo Nation Museum director Manuelito Wheeler told NPR.

A team of Navajo language translators worked on the script and recorded a version of the translation to assist the Navajo voice actors in doing the final overdub.

According to the Navajo Nation Museum, this is the first time a major motion picture has been translated into a Native American language. It has been a challenge.

For example, there is no word for "droid" in the Navajo language. If you've ever listened to Navajo radio, you'll hear English words subbed in when there's no Navajo equivalent. We'll have to wait for the premiere to see how the translators handled this.

The premiere is free to attend, with additional showings on July 4 and 5. Better make plans to attend, these may be your only chances to catch the film in Navajo. There are no plans to release it more widely, either in theaters or on DVD.

(Via NPR)