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Sci-fi film 'Everything Everywhere All at Once' subtitles come under fire in Taiwan

Movie starring Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Lee Curtis premiered on April 22

Chinese subtitles for "Everything Everywhere All at Once" have received criticism online. (A Really Happy Film Company's photo)

Chinese subtitles for "Everything Everywhere All at Once" have received criticism online. (A Really Happy Film Company's photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Science-fiction film “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” starring Michelle Yeoh (楊紫瓊) and Jamie Lee Curtis, has received criticism from Taiwanese audiences due to its subtitles after premiering in the country on April 22.

It was selected as the opening movie of the 2022 Golden Horse Fantastic Film Festival.

The comedy’s plot has won over viewers, but the subtitle translation came under fire because many feel the translator’s interpretation took away from the film’s authenticity and caused confusion.

“I am happy to go to the movie theater and watch it again, but I hope the film company can fix the ‘over-translation’ situation. I am clueless how the translator felt good about himself after translating with such an arrogant attitude,” a netizen named Soso Tseng said on the film company’s Facebook page.

Tseng said that many of his friends refused to watch the film solely because of the subtitles. Controversy surrounded specific translations such as “just be a rock” in English being translated as “You are Wang Anshi (你現在是王安石),” or “unlovable bitch” in English being translated as "Empress Wu Zetian (武媚娘愛缺)."

The translator, Andy (@ndy, 旁白鴿), responded to the comment on April 30 by posting a 1,000-character article on Facebook titled “The subtitles suck, you suck, and your family sucks!” At the end of the response, he explained his ideas about the disputed translations.

Andy said that watching films is just a pastime or fun weekend activity and that he was surprised his work drew so much ire online. He said he appreciates those who enjoyed the film and apologized to those who hate it and told them to go back to their corners.

After Andy's provocative “apology,” the film company, A Really Happy Film Company, said Monday that it is sorry the subtitles caused harm but that what it learned from the film is that love, understanding, and tolerance can make the world a better place.

Film critic Bujo (部長) said that Andy’s attitude poured gasoline on the fire: “A translator should respect a film instead of letting preference interfere with the profession. There is room for discussion, but we must be mindful not to disrespect the translation industry.”

Trailer. (Youtube video)

Andy's response. (Facebook, 旁白鴿)

(Facebook, A Really Happy Film Company video)