Roma has been pulling in awards left and right this season, and director Alfonso Cuarón has been the recipient of several of them as the director, writer, producer, editor, and cinematographer of the foreign language drama. At every turn, he’s been extremely grateful to Netflix for releasing a film that most studios probably wouldn’t touch. But a recent problem has emerged that has Cuarón unhappy with Netflix.
The entirety of Roma is a Spanish-language film featuring subtitles for those who don’t speak the language. However, for some reason, in the country of Spain where Spanish is the native language, a set of subtitles in Iberian Spanish is being offered, implying some kind of disconnect between the Spanish spoken in Mexico and the Spanish spoken in Spain. This is what has upset director Alfonso Cuarón, who calls it “parochial, ignorant and offensive to Spaniards themselves.”
Find out more about the Roma subtitles problem below.
The Guardian has the report (via Spanish-language news outlet El Pais) on Cuarón speaking out about the unnecessary Iberian Spanish subtitles being provided for the film’s release in Spain. What it comes down to is that the differences between the two dialects is so miniscule that the assumption these subtitles are even needed for viewers in Spain is offensive to the people there.
Cuarón added, “One of the things I most enjoy is the colour and texture of other accents,” and notes that non-Iberian Spanish subtitles aren’t required for Mexican viewers when they’re watching a film from director Pedro Almodóvar, the Bad Education and Volver filmmaker who is from Spain.
It turns out Cuarón isn’t the only one annoyed with this decision. Mexican writer Jordi Soler expressed distaste for the Iberian Spanish subtitles on Twitter, calling it “paternalistic, offensive and profoundly provincial.” The author went on to provide an example as to how unnecessary this is by pointing out on Twitter, “When they say ‘mamá’ [mum], the subtitles say ‘madre’ [mother].”
Languages are undoubtedly complicated, and while there are certainly subtle differences in the Spanish spoken between those from Mexico and those from Spain, this assumption that Spanish citizens wouldn’t be able to understand the language in Roma seems a bit ridiculous. It feels like the equivalent of American viewers in Alabama needing English subtitles for a movie taking place in Chicago. It remains to be seen if this is something Netflix will fix or not.
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