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Navajo-Dubbed ‘Star Wars’ Ready for July 4 Launch

Navajo nation leaders see the dubbing of "Star Wars" as a way to help preserve their language

As noted earlier on this blog, a cooperative project between Lucasfilms and the Navajo people in Arizona has created a Dine-dubbed version of  "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope." Dine is the name of the Navajo language.

So now, the Navajo language, which once helped save America from defeat in World War II, is going to transit to a galaxy far, far away.

Also read: 'Stars Wars' Goes Navajo in Bid to Save Tribe's Language

The Dine dubbing of "Star Wars," which was originally released in 1977, is set for public release on Thursday during the Navajo Nation Fourth of July Celebration in Window Rock, Ariz. If you can't be there, you can surely catch some YouTube videos of the new edition online — this is big. This is a first.

Manny Wheeler, director of the museum who has been steering the project in co-operation with Lucasfilm for more than three years, told me in a recent email: that he, in conjunction with Navajo Parks and Recreation and the Lucas camp, came up with the plan to dub the film as a way to help preserve the Navajo language.

And the Navajo Nation is happy with the result.

According Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly, the project has been an exciting one. "We have great value in our language. Our Code Talkers helped the Americans defeat the Japanese during World War II, and now we can look forward to seeing one of the most successful movies in history dubbed in [Dine]."

Deluxe Studio’s audio mixer Francisco Rodriguez was in charge of sound during the recording, and dubbing director Ellen Stern of Epcar Entertainment coached the cast of Navajo actors in capturing a realistic representation of the movie.

Also read: The Navajo-Dubbed 'Star Wars': It's a Family Project to Debut on July 4

The cast included some 20 voice actors, with seven primary characters doing most of the talking in the new version.

"It’s [going to be a] good thing to see our Navajo language on the big screen," said Fred White, the division of natural resources director for the Navajo Nation.

The seven Navajo actors who voiced the lead roles are Terry Teller as Luke Skywalker, James Junes as Han Solo, Clarissa Yazzie as Princess Leia, Anderson Kee as Obi Wan Kenobi, Marvin Yellowhair as Darth Vader, Geri Hongeva-Camarillo as C-3PO and James Bilagody as Grand Moff Tarkin.

This is one for the books. And the stars.


Dan Bloom is a freelance writer based in Asia since 1991. During a five-year stint in Tokyo, he covered the triumphs (and occasional failures) of Hollywood movies in Japan and interviewed American actors passing through Tokyo on film promotion tours, including Billy Crystal, Robin Williams and Kevin Costner.