The original Star Wars movie — Episode IV in George Lucas' six-part epic — will soon be dubbed into its 40th language, Navajo. And casting for major roles begins a week from today.
The Navajo Nation Museum is working wth Deluxe Studios and Lucasfilm to produce the adaptation, and when it happens it will be the realization of a three year quest by museum director Manuelito Wheeler. Wheeler's desire to have a supremely popular film like Star Wars translated into Navajo is culturally motivated. "By preserving the Navajo language and encouraging Navajo youth to learn their language, we will also be preserving Navajo culture," Wheeler told the Navajo Times.
The feeling is somewhat mutual, as described by Shanna Priesz of Deluxe. "Every time we dub a film, we recognize the fact that we are helping to bridge cultural and communications gaps among societies," she told The Hollywood Reporter. "In this case, however, we have the unique privilege of contributing to the preservation of a storied and noble culture, the Navajo."
The translation is no simple matter — the philosophical differences between Navajo and many European languages make it difficult to devise Dine' equivalents for terms like "light saber" and "the Force." But on top of that, there is the issue of casting, and this is where it gets interesting: An open casting call will be held at the Navajo Museum in Window Rock, Arizona, on May 3 and 4. The roles of Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Han Solo, C-3PO, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Grand Moff Tarkin are up for grabs. The Navajo Times article stresses that hopeful Lukes and Leias need not sound like Mark Hammill or Carrie Fisher — what's important is simply the ability to convey the Navajo dialogue with emotion that is in keeping with the English-language original.
Interested voice actors are invited to call 928-871-7941 to book a time slot.