In other countries one must make sacrifices of convenience in the name of experience. This means giving up little comforts here and there. One of these million little things is movies. Movies from home may not come out until months later, if at all. But – hey – with the Internet the way it is, this isn’t too much of a problem. Save for taking your lady out to the cinema, only to find out the only English language films playing that night are Transformers or The Smurfs. Goddammit.
My favorite thing about the alternate-reality movie culture is that the names of movies are often translated, and the more familiar names will be changed – sometimes only a little bit, sometimes completely. Sometimes you can recognize the movie by translating the name back into English, but most of the time you’ll just be left guessing.
For example, the Czech title of Die Hard translates into Lethal Trap, while in Finnish, the mighty Ghostbusters translates into Ghost Gang. While not too far off the mark, it be downright confusing to talk to a Czech, a Finn, a whatever … about movies, since most of the time something like this inevitably happens: Ghostbusters? No, I don’t know that one. What’s it about? Oh – that’s kinda like that movie we had here called Ghost Gang. It’s about a bunch of funny scientists who chase after ghosts in New York in the eighties and use crazy lazer backpacks and Bill Murray. … Happens every time.
In Finland, they have Star Wars – the name translates the same – but they decided on subjecting the film to various cultural tweaks. For example, the scrolling opening sequence through the vastness of space is replaced by a translated Finnish text. As well, Darth Vader is shown wearing a Russian flag pin on his lapel. In what was perhaps one of the oddest changes, the beloved droid R2D2 was digitally replaced by the more Finnish-friendly Arto Dittonen, or Arto for short.
Arto Dittonen was designed to reflect the droid culture of the Scandinavian neighbour, so his physical attributes were modified to replicate just that. Instead of the short, stout stature of R2D2 that we were more familiar with, Arto was thinner, 7 feet tall, and narrow. His centre of balance no longer allowed him to turn on a dime, as he was now, in fact, quite top-heavy. Combined with his thirst for the hard stuff, he ends up toppling over more than once during the course of the film. However, he keeps the same paint job as his more-familiar American doppelganger – blue and white. Because these, of course, are the national colours of Finland.