6

First and foremost, I am looking for films mostly spoken in Latin (not just a few scenes). My search so far has been fairly unfruitful. Most of the "films" available seem to be amateur (by students of Latin) or very low-quality, low-budget films. (e.g. here or here). The only decent (but old) forum thread I found seem to be negative about this too. There seem to be a movie around (about a wounded Roman general, escaping to the woods...), but looks terrible, and not likely to have much dialogue.

It would be understandable to imagine why such films do not exist. As movies are oriented to mass audiences, Latin is not a good seller.

So, even if not a single, decent film script is spoken in Latin, my "second best" request is for subtitles. It would be amazing to watch, say Star Wars, Gladiator, Brave Heart, et cetera, with subtitles in Latin. A quick search in subtitles websites however shows nothing (many don't even have the option to search for Latin subtitles). Other forum threads have not been very positive either. Oh, and apparently the Passion of Christ is in Ecclesiastical Latin, but cannot find any other serious reference of this.

10
  • 4
    The Passion of the Christ uses a mostly-Ecclesiastical pronunciation: example 1, ex. 2 with lots of swearing during the flagellation, but with some concessions to reconstructed, like aspirated [h]s in huc, mihi. I don't know whether scholars agree on an approximate date for the 'c/g' and other sound changes, so I don't know if that pronunciation is likely for the 1st century. Regarding vocabulary or grammar, I can't tell. – Rafael May 5 '17 at 12:02
  • @Rafael Thanks. +20 for the amazing revelation that "idiota" is actually a Latin word! Love it!! (stupid also comes from Latin!) :o – luchonacho May 5 '17 at 12:39
  • idiota is a Latin borrowing of Greek ἰδιώτης. But see stultus, stupidus. :) – Ben Kovitz May 5 '17 at 14:24
  • It's not quite what you're looking for, but someone has translated the script to Ridley Scott's big-budget film Gladiator into Latin and posted it online (krescendo.com/gladiatorlatin). Some enterprising students I know used it to add Latin subtitles to the film, though I'm not sure how they did it. The only 'real' film I've seen that's in Latin is Derek Jarman's Sebastiane, which you've referred/linked to. I don't think I even made it through the whole film because it was so laborious. – cnread May 5 '17 at 17:04
  • @cnread Amazing. It is not timed though, so they are not actually subtitles. If ever Latin gets popular, I imagine more and more subtitles in Latin would appear. – luchonacho May 5 '17 at 18:04
4

Wikipedia has a Latin-language films category. I don't know how many of these films (if any) are completely in Latin, rather than just containing some amount of Latin.

2

There's Imperator.

The whole movie is in Latin. Though short (40 minutes), it's a serious production.

2

The 2019 film Il primo re (English title: Romulus & Remus: The first king) purports to be entirely in 'pre-Roman Latin.' To me (who am not an expert in the history/linguistics of the Latin language), this appeared to mean mainly that the writers took a bit of classical Latin text and changed all the intervocalic Rs to Ss. There did seem to be many mistakes, not all of which I'm sure can be explained away as just pre-classical usage. It was hard to tell, though, because most of the actors mumbled their lines and could just as easily have been speaking Norwegian as Latin. Still, it would be interesting to have a look at the screenplay; it's possible that the text itself is perfectly sound but was undermined by the actors.

Otherwise, the film is fine: a sort of blockbuster action film on a small scale (a cast of tens!) set in and around a swamp, with a bunch of characters who, according to the end titles, all had names, though there was little enough to differentiate them in the film itself (a complaint that can be raised against many other, larger, more expensive action films too).

1

Derek Jarman's Sebastiane (1976) is in Latin, and is a full-length feature film (86 minutes) but it's also X-rated, with some pretty extreme male nudity (let's just say the film's time is not the only thing that's full length), so it may not suit your purposes. As far as I know it was the only feature film in Latin prior to Gibson's The Passion of the Christ (which is tamer than Jarman's film but also not something suitable for children).

I think a number of Plautus' plays would make great cinema, but so far no one who makes movies seems to agree. Greek plays fare slightly better since Greek is a living language.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.