episode iii, the backstroke of the west redux

a couple of years ago when i was living in shanghai i bought a revenge of the sith dvd off the street. it came with hilariously mangled subtitles that ranged from somewhat close to what the actors were saying to far, far away....

i've been meaning to update the blog post I wrote ages ago to add in more scenes and upgrade the quality of the photos (they were digital camera pics and in some pics you can see my old tv) but of course you know how it goes- one never has the time.

so now that it's chinese new year and i have a few days off work, i finally present to you as a new year's present...

episode iii, the backstroke of the west redux
backstroke of the west
the dvd menu looks pretty normal, aside from a rather evil-looking yoda.

backstroke of the west
to experience backstroke of the west one has to go to the subtitle menu and select 'englsih'.

backstroke of the west
the beginning scroll is mistranslated, even though the words are right up there on the screen.

backstroke of the west
star war (just one).

backstroke of the west

click play to see the full intro scroll.

backstroke of the west
anakin: "this is where the fun begins"

backstroke of the west
anonymous doomed fighter pilot: "they're all over me!"

backstroke of the west
obi-wan, space battle strategist.

backstroke of the west
the battle was going well until the disgusting thing showed up.

backstroke of the west
obi-wan really hates that disgusting thing.

backstroke of the west
obi-wan teaches r2 how to beat the disgusting thing.

backstroke of the west
a quick pause in the caption commentary. for a while i couldn't figure out how the captions got so mangled- i thought maybe it was done by computer, but in some cases like this one the captions make sense but have no relation to what is going on. general grevious is actually saying, "just as count dooku predicted"...

backstroke of the west
...and here anakin says, "destroyers!" (meaning destroyer droids). after watching the movie again i figured out that a chinese pirate had originally tried to listen to the movie in english and wrote in chinese what he thought he heard- this was then translated back by machine into english. so in this case mr. pirate heard 'destroy' and thought anakin was talking about destroying the droids...

backstroke of the west
...and the best part of it all is that some stuff is completely made up, like in this case the droids in the elevator are just mumbling but mr. pirate decided to make something up about not pushing (which is extra-funny if you've ever lived in china!). so a random pirate in china decided on the fly that not only could he translate but he could improve on lucas's script. brilliant stuff, and this explains a lot of the seemingly random things.

anyway, back to the movie.

backstroke of the west
obi-wan grows impatient with r2.

backstroke of the west
the chancellor warns obi-wan and anakin that count dooku is... big.

backstroke of the west
obi-wan explains that it's no problem.

backstroke of the west
count dooku doesn't like anakin.

backstroke of the west
count dooku really doesn't like anakin.

backstroke of the west
chancellor palpatine explains something to anakin about obi-wan.

backstroke of the west
general grievous receives some bad news.

backstroke of the west
the general considers how he should punish his troops.

backstroke of the west
"anakin skywalker"

backstroke of the west
anakin taunts general grievous.

backstroke of the west
the general fires off a snappy comeback.

backstroke of the west
grievous orders his troops to turn anakin and obi-wan into filet-o-fishes.

backstroke of the west
yes, that's right, crispy golden brown batter!!!

backstroke of the west
a random hair styling tip?

backstroke of the west
the translator liked elephants.

backstroke of the west
he liked elephants a lot.

backstroke of the west
oh no, anything but that!

backstroke of the west
we gonna rock down to, lemon avenue.

backstroke of the west
anakin is fed up with politicseses.

backstroke of the west
anakin: "that's wonderful" (in reply to padme saying she is pregnant)

backstroke of the west
padme the homemaker.

backstroke of the west

backstroke of the west
yoda: "premonitions? premonitions?"

backstroke of the west
that sounds like something yoda might actually say.

backstroke of the west
anakin is haunted by dreamses.

backstroke of the west
the elephant needs anakin. um, yeah.

backstroke of the west

backstroke of the west
obi-wan asks anakin to spy on the chancellor while he does certain activities.

backstroke of the west
the chancellor explains to anakin that darth plagueis was strong and big.

backstroke of the west
and he became even stronger and bigger.

backstroke of the west
but he wasn't big or strong enough to stop himself from being killed by... land... so he could go to bed... yep.

backstroke of the west
anakin delivers some good news to obi-wan.

backstroke of the west
but obi-wan explains that anakin is allah gold and therefore there's a problem with him being part of the presbyterian church.

backstroke of the west
"may the force be with you"

backstroke of the west
obi-wan asks for directions.

backstroke of the west
anakin starts to fall out with the presbyterian church.

backstroke of the west
how romantic.

backstroke of the west
tion medon: "what brings you to our remote sanctuary?"

backstroke of the west
tion medon: "on the tenth level, thousands of battledroids"

backstroke of the west
obi-wan: "hello there!"

backstroke of the west
grievous tells his troops to back off, he'll take care of obi wan.

backstroke of the west
... but is it big?

backstroke of the west
the chancellor delivers anakin some bad news.

backstroke of the west
who you tryin' to get crazy with esse? don't you know i'm loco?

backstroke of the west
me am a civilization person too!

backstroke of the west
"i think chancellor palpatine is a sith lord."

backstroke of the west
mace windu reads the chancellor his rights.

backstroke of the west
palpatine: "no... no... no..."

backstroke of the west
palpatine: "unlimited... power!"

backstroke of the west
anakin bargains for the life of his cuckoldry.

backstroke of the west
palpatine: "darth vader"

backstroke of the west

backstroke of the west
the emporer tells anakin... umm... something.

backstroke of the west
anakin: "i agree."

backstroke of the west
ok- the bottom conveniently

backstroke of the west
yoda: "goodbye chewbacca."

backstroke of the west
c3po tells the amorous couple to get a room.

backstroke of the west
padme: "no thank you, c3po."

backstroke of the west
obi-wan: "who could have done this?"

backstroke of the west
the emporer announces that he's going on workers' comp leave.

backstroke of the west
did he change it to, 'password'?

backstroke of the west
palpatine to anakin: "you have done well, my apprentice"

backstroke of the west
obi-wan tells yoda that anakin is like his brother... and an elephant too.

backstroke of the west
the dark side is gobbling.

backstroke of the west
padme: "3po will look after me."

backstroke of the west
how about a snickers?

backstroke of the west
padme confronts anakin- he has been sleeping around!

backstroke of the west
umm... uhh... what affair. that wasn't me. i barely know that girl.

backstroke of the west
anakin tells padme to forget the girl, because he is now both strong and big.

backstroke of the west
in fact anakin is positively huge and herculean.

backstroke of the west
padme doesn't want big and strong. she also doesn't want to walk on a road meant for running about.

backstroke of the west

backstroke of the west
padme: "no!!!"

backstroke of the west
obi-wan has heard enough.

backstroke of the west
yoda pays a not-so-friendly visit to palpatine's office.

this doesn't really have anything to do with backstroke of the west, but i love the way he walked into the room.

backstroke of the west
palpatine has a pet name for yoda.

backstroke of the west
palpatine now reveals his true ambitions- to be the biggest and strongest!

backstroke of the west
that's just too much for yoda- he's heading for tijuana.

backstroke of the west
meanwhile anakin taunts obi-wan...

backstroke of the west
...but obi-wan stands on higher ground...

backstroke of the west
...and proclaims his love.

backstroke of the west

posted by jeremy @ 11:45 PM 


Anonymous Stefan said...

Great! This really gave me a laugh, even after reading the first version. Thank you!

January 31, 2009 12:43 AM  
Blogger ?? said...

This is hillarous!

May you also provide a original chinese subtitle for me as I want to compare with the english subtitle to know what's the meaning.

Thanks in advance

January 31, 2009 11:03 PM  
Blogger jeremy said...

Hi ??, unfortunately I don't have a program to rip the Chinese subtitles. I used subrip which worked for the English ones (after a bit of 'teaching') but for Chinese nothing came up. Maybe because I don't have Chinese fonts installed. Sorry!

January 31, 2009 11:35 PM  
Anonymous mikro said...


February 10, 2009 9:18 PM  
Anonymous mikro said...


watch it!

February 10, 2009 9:21 PM  
Blogger an tone said...

thanks for this, it's just hilarious--

I also recently watched a boot-leg Japanese TV drama on dvd which provided Chinese, English and Japanese subtitles. I believe the Japanese subtitle is a bonus track because it is all porn dialogues and has nothing to do with the drama.

February 18, 2009 5:18 PM  
Blogger Jensaarai said...

"Dot not want."

Epic. So many epic translations. This is amazing, I wish I could see the whole movie.

February 20, 2009 9:14 AM  
Blogger jeremy said...

Hi Jensaarai, someone uploaded the movie (in 10min clips) to Youtube. Check it out- http://www.youtube.com/user/BackstrokeOfTheWest

February 20, 2009 9:46 AM  
Anonymous Total Ulla said...

OMG - that was soo funny!!

March 15, 2009 6:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! ok ive never watched star wars...but thats fucken helarious!!! lol

March 19, 2009 8:00 PM  
Anonymous Freddie said...

Someone tried mating the Backstroke of the West subtitles with Episode IV, with quite funny (and bizarrely homoerotic) results.


March 25, 2009 7:43 AM  
Blogger hennwei said...

EPIC WIN! lol.

this is the best form of copy protection.. bad subs! lol!

March 26, 2009 2:16 PM  
Anonymous Lambda said...

"I can't walk with you on a road meant for running about" is pretty deep.
Also, I love the way the plot is changed to the horrific consequences of the desire to be big and strong.

April 9, 2009 4:04 AM  
Anonymous Padme the Rice Getter said...

Your Chinese-English-subtitled-English is my hero. <3 Allah and Presbyterian bring gold to the big and strong. Praise.

April 16, 2009 2:35 AM  
Anonymous Stalker Fairy said...

I really really love your comments. Notably your "Big" comments:
"The dark power is more and more strong"
...but is it big?
I noticed in this new version, you took out an image or 2 about the Darth Plaguies. Was the "dint" comment still in this one?

April 17, 2009 12:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, just wanted to let you know:
The constant elephant comments are mangled Chinese translations. The phrase "it seems like" or "looks like" would be translated as "good elephant" if the translator went character by character, instead of for the actual meaning. The same is true for the over use of the word "fuck", in Chinese the character for "to do" means "fuck" in slang, therefore it often ends up mistranslated :)

May 1, 2009 1:34 AM  
Blogger JP said...

I saw the movie a couple of days ago. Constant fun - didn't get boring even after 2 hours. Thanks to Anonymous above for explaining the Good Elephant. As far as I could understand, Jedi is translated as "Hopeless Situation", Obi-Wan is called "Ratio Tile" and Anakin is called "Gold", sometimes "Allah Gold". I guess that depends on whether or not they include Skywalker.

May 4, 2009 3:17 AM  
Blogger jeremy said...

@stalker fairy - thanks! i left out the dint part for this update as i thought it was a bit boring/weird but it's certainly still there in the dvd.

@anonymous - thanks for the 'elephant' explanation. makes sense!!!

May 4, 2009 10:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is hilarious! worth every cent in RMB

May 6, 2009 9:30 PM  
OpenID TheSkorm said...

I'm guessing that someone has converted it very roughly to Chinese (or other) and then a computer has translated it back to English.

May 14, 2009 6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this is the funniest thing I have ever seen!

May 24, 2009 12:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was laughing so hard that I was crying. What an improvement on some of the dialogue- priceless.

May 24, 2009 12:18 PM  
Blogger Mr. Harris said...

Ha ha! Do not want!

May 28, 2009 1:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never laughed so hard at subtitles EVER. My favorite was "I was just made by the Presbyterian Church" Was he hiding from them and they just found him? Did he mean it literally, the Church created him? Were his parents were Presbyterian?
Love a good mystery.
Thank you SO much for sharing this!

May 29, 2009 8:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

haha! my friend told me about this an i love it! i wanna know where i can get a dvd like this!

June 22, 2009 1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say thank you very much for doing this, I'll be heading off to work with a massive grin today.

June 26, 2009 3:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saved this to my fav, reading it over and over again, and can't stop laughing... By the way, elephant wish big and strong no ratio tile do want :)

June 28, 2009 8:16 AM  
Blogger Shalom said...

Never. Gets. Old!

July 17, 2009 4:11 AM  
Anonymous luke said...

this is HELLarious!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! holy shit mannn! esp the talks about elephants, behind, and other unimportant things =D

August 6, 2009 8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is incredible indeed, sure makes me laugh!
Truly epic translations!

August 23, 2009 9:14 PM  
Blogger Aneta ?ižmáriková aka Riddick said...

This is un-fucking-believable! I laughed all along... fantastic... no words can express, how is THIS hilarious - together with your witty commentaries, Winterson ;-)
And I think my elephant ate my pudding meanwhile and only rice he left! Holy presbyterian church!! :-o

September 10, 2009 5:57 PM  
Blogger Ruby said...


There's no real word for 'no' in Chinese, so 'bu yao'- not want, or do not want, makes sense I guess- would sound brilliant in the original dramatic tone of voice though...

Also, 'skin' in Chinese is 'pi' (read 'p'), so probably some part of c3po's name.

Going to look up how to say "Presbyterian Church" in Chinese now though- could it be that the church actually was the dark side all along?

I love Chinglish. Endless accidental humour, created in translation rather than lost...

September 14, 2009 2:17 PM  
Anonymous %20 said...

Thee Dialog Continue.

In 2005, the backstroke of the west subtitler began a cross cultural conversation.

In 2009 a response has been formulated.

?20 ?? '????????' ????/??????????????????/????/???????????????????????????????????????????
%20 introduces 'Thee Backslacpkipng With Media' a media analysis/video archeological proof of concept of a future video media search/cut-up/recompile system as applied to all the Star Wars media distributed around the release of the movie which acted as the backdrop to the backstroke.


To fully appreciate the subtitle subterfuge, you'll have to download the full DVD, but to gain an understanding of this presentation, preview any chapter here: (Play options are on the right)


???? Corporate Shill
????? Consumer Whore
???????? Wannabee Cultural Chimera

September 17, 2009 9:53 PM  
Blogger Valerie said...

This might be the funniest thing in .. the universe. Or the elephant. Or the Presbyterian church.

I really honestly have tears in my eyes every time I read this -- and I'm on about time 12 now.

Thanks for sharing it.

October 8, 2009 7:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do not want!!! lol

October 20, 2009 11:11 PM  
OpenID actonthat said...

I like how every now and then the translator turns into Gollum and starts adding extra pluralizations on to words.

This made me laugh hysterically. Thanks for this.

October 29, 2009 8:55 AM  
Anonymous tykayn said...

hehehe, i am french, but... LOL
thats soooo great !
thanks for these laugh minutes :D

October 30, 2009 8:11 AM  
Blogger Amin said...

Amazing. This is so much better than the actual movie. If only that dvd was more widely available...

November 24, 2009 1:36 PM  
Blogger Sven O'Barn-Red said...

Wonderful! Haven't laughed this hard in ages!!! It made my weekend. And my life!
Abraços brasileiros!

December 6, 2009 8:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


January 8, 2010 11:42 PM  
Blogger Amaya said...

this is hillarious!!!
asian subs for the win! ''all your base are belong to us!''
-> http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=all%20your%20base%20are%20belong%20to%20us

January 28, 2010 7:15 PM  
Blogger Deus Ex Machina said...

Thanks for making my day a lot more fun!

February 13, 2010 8:10 PM  
Anonymous Tindi said...

Oooow the RIIIIBS! Why do I find these things at 2 in the morning when I can't laugh properly?
Thank you for sharing this with the internets!

February 19, 2010 4:57 PM  
Anonymous bds said...

Blessings upon you, big manikin elephant or faraway Ratio Tile or whatever youseses are! I, too, was ROTFLMAO. Your comments are great, even if possibly you were made by the Presbyterian church (...by committee, perhaps...?!?), and I immediately caught the Zoolander bit. Loved all of it!!! Thank you for putting so much time into this!

February 22, 2010 7:58 AM  
OpenID evil_marzipan said...



March 3, 2010 11:56 AM  
Anonymous CC said...

Boy, Ratio Tile sure has a foul mouth, he's always saying the f-word.

This is golden, thanks so much for posting.

March 13, 2010 1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

op you wouldn't believe how hard i laughed

April 3, 2010 4:23 PM  
Blogger The Crow said...

I cried from laughter when I read this... Thank you!!

April 17, 2010 11:16 PM  
Blogger M. J. said...

Best thing I've ever seen on the internet. Thankyou so much

April 19, 2010 11:07 AM  

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