Saturday Matinee #119: "Colors of the Wind" Multi-Language Reel (November 13, 1996)
Published April 13, 2013
by Albert Gutierrez
Sometimes, if I've watched a movie enough, I'll switch the audio option to a foreign language. This gives me a chance to experience a favorite film as I would in another culture, even though it's not a very effective learning tool to become fluent within that language. My familiarity with key phrases or bits of dialogue from the film would allow me to mimic the words, but not enough to fully understand if someone came up to me and asked a completely random question in that language. For example, the DVD for Mulan includes a Mandarin Chinese audio track, which I occasionally listen to, to make the film "more Chinese" in my viewing experience. But I would be hard-pressed to recite back any of the dialogue with the proper inflection and tone that the language requires. However, being exposed to these languages allow for a greater appreciation of the universality of Disney. I can think of no better example than the multi-language reel for "Colors of the Wind" from 1995's Pocahontas.
This special reel features the film's signature song first sung in English, followed by dubs in sixteen additional languages. I took a look at a few key phrases from this multi-language reel, and translated into English what they were singing in their home language. You can see that the essence of the song remains in every language, even if it's not a direct repeat of what was said in English the first time. After all, when any work is translated into another language, it will be modified to fit the vernacular and colloquial ways of speaking. For example, look at our own way of asking "How are you?". We can say "How do you do?" or "What's up?" or "How's it hanging?". Likewise, in another language, a phrase like "colors of the wind" may not have a local equivalent, and so another term may be used.
Let's start with the first dubbed lines, by Anita Skorgan of Norway:
Du tror du eier jorden som du trer pe
med dade ting du tar i kongens navn
According to Google Translate, this becomes:
You think you own the earth that you tread on
with dead thing you can claim the king's name
It's quite close to the original lyrics, which are:
You think you own whatever land you land on
The Earth is just a dead thing you can claim
Another great example are the two versions of French used in the reel: French Canadian and Parisian French. Both translate "colors of the wind," with French Canadian asking it as a question, while Parisian French makes it a statement. One would expect that since both are "French," there would be no change. But notice how French Canadian says "toutes les couleurs" while Parisian French says "en mille couleurs." Both mean "all the colors." But in isolation, Parisian French's "en mille couleurs" would literally translate into "in a thousand colors."
Peux-tu peindre avec toutes les couleurs du vent?
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?
Il peut peindre en mille couleurs l'air du vent.
He can paint with all the colors of the wind.
What follows are some of my favorite translations: Swedish, Turkish, and Slovak. First is the original lyric, followed by its translated version. I then took that translated version and re-translated it into English, showing how the lyrics change between languages. Some of the phrases was a bit awkward ("strawberries taste have been in the sun"), so I've taken the liberty of modifying the translated English (given to me by Google Translate) into phrases more akin to conversational English.
Or asked the grinning bobcat why he grinned?
En vildkatt blir en stjornbild mot din kind
A wildcat is a constellation against your cheek
(English / Swedish / Translated English)
Come run the hidden pine trails of the forest
Ormandaki camlarin ininde koş-
In the pines, in the forest, run!
(English / Turkish / Translated English)
Come taste the sunsweet berries of the earth
G�neşte olmuş �ilekleri tat-
The taste of strawberries in the sun
(English / Turkish / Translated English)
And you'll never hear the wolf cry to the bluecorn moon
A tier neuvides jak vlk vyje na mesiac
And also see how a wolf howls at the moon
(English / Slovak / Translated English)
This multi-language reel is available on several of Pocahontas' home media releases. It was first included in the 1996 Deluxe Edition CAV LaserDisc. In 2005, it was among the many supplements found in the 10th Anniversary Edition DVD. Finally, last year's 2012 Blu-Ray release saw the extra available not on the disc itself, but through Disney's "Virtual Vault," a streaming option that requires connecting your Blu-Ray player to the internet via BD-Live. I'll refrain from voicing my disapproval at Disney for not putting the extra (as well as plenty of others) on the disc itself.
NOTE: Spelling for foreign language lyrics courtesy of "Pocahontas - Official Multi-Reel FANDUB" by Ranee L MacIntosh (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8cJLOl7MK8)