Netflix Drops "European Spanish" Subtitles for 'Roma'

Biz Screen -Roma - Publicity - H 2018
Courtesy of Netflix

Netflix has replaced the Castilian Spanish subtitles on Alfonso Cuaron's Mexican drama with closed captioning that more accurately reflects the spoken dialect.

Reacting to the controversy over its subtitling of the mostly Spanish-language Mexican film Roma into Spain-based Castilian Spanish, Netflix has adjusted the subtitles for Roma in Spain to reflect the spoken Spanish.

The original offering of “European Spanish” subtitles on the Mexican film on Netflix and in theaters in Spain elicited angry reactions from fans and director Alfonso Cuaron, who called the move “offensive” and “ridiculous” in comments earlier this week to Spanish news agency Efe.

“It’s parochial, ignorant and offensive to Spaniards themselves,” Cuaron added to Spain’s El Pais newspaper.

On Thursday, Netflix responded by dropping the “European Spanish” option from the service and replaced it with “Spanish" closed captioning, which transcribes what is spoken onscreen rather than translating concepts for a non-local audience.

Netflix sometimes makes Castilian Spanish subtitles available for content originating from Latin America, according to the company, to reflect nuances in local language. On the streaming service those subtitles are optional, but Netflix’s subtitled version was also used on Roma's theatrical release in Spain.

A representative for the movie theater chain Cines Verdi, where Roma has screened theatrically in Spain, told El Pais that the subtitled version was requested from Netflix after people at a private screening said they were having trouble following the film. Representatives of Cines Verdi could not be reached for comment on whether the theaters would now change their copy of the film as well.

The Castilian subtitles on Roma elicited critiques in the local press and across social media but some voices of support from viewers who said they found such translations helpful in fully understanding local accents and expressions.