Members of the Navajo tribe in the southwestern United States are hoping the force will be with them as they dub “Star Wars” into their native Dine language.
Two days of auditions began Friday at the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock, Arizona for Navajo wishing to lend their voices to Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Han Solo, C-3PO, Obi Wan Kenobi and Grand Moff Tarkin.
“Qualifications are fluency in Navajo and good acting skills,” the museum said. “You give us your best Oscar-winning audition ever!”
Directed by George Lucas and released in 1977, “Star Wars” is a Hollywood science fiction classic and winner of six Academy Awards including best picture.
It’s been dubbed into nearly 40 languages from Arabic to Vietnamese, and now stands to become the first major Hollywood motion picture ever to be translated into a Native American tongue.
Museum director Manuelito Wheeler told AFP the Navajo project, three years in the making, is aimed at promoting the use of Dine, which is spoken by only half of the 300,000 Navajo who live mainly in Arizona and New Mexico.
“We need a new and innovative way to engage the public to learn Navajo,” he said.
“Navajo is a descriptive language,” Wheeler added, when asked about the challenges of translating the script. “Conceptually, the Navajo language is able to plug into the concept of ‘the force’.”
More than 90 people registered for the auditions, and the final product is to be premiere at a Fourth of July festival in Window Rock before going on to screenings in California, Oklahoma and perhaps New York and Washington.
Lucasfilms, the production studio founded by Lucas and now owned by Disney, is collaborating on the project.
The Navajo are the biggest Native American tribe.
They’re fiercely proud of the Navajo “code talkers” in World War II whose battlefield radio messages for the US military in the Pacific could never be cracked by Japanese forces.
Monument Valley, on Navajo land, and its majestic sandstone buttes have meanwhile been a popular location for many movie shoots, from John Wayne westerns to “Thelma and Louise” and this year’s “The Lone Ranger” starring Johnny Depp.
[“Outdoor Portrait Of A Smiling American Indian Girl” on Shutterstock]