Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bad Movie Latin

It isn't difficult to find bad movie Latin, but the examples in the film Event Horizon are special.

The Event Horizon is a spaceship that vanished for seven years and then reappeared in 2047 transmitting a spooky distress message. No one on Earth could decipher it, until another ship travels out to Neptune to see what happened, the crew listens to the message again, and a cute, earnest guy (who is later violently eviscerated) says "Oh wait, that's Latin."
Liberate me
"It means, 'Save me,'" he says. Actually it means "Free me." You know, like "liberty" and such. (By the way, Latin doesn't have silent vowels, so that's leeb-er-AH-tay, four syllables.)

But the best part is later, when it turns out that he misheard the message and therefore mistranslated. The real message was:
Libera tutemet ex inferis.
This is supposed to mean "save yourself from hell." *sigh* If you're going to make a plot point in your horror film turn on Latin textual criticism–which I heartily approve of–why not ask a Classicist to come up with something clever for you? Or at least correct? tutemet isn't right, reader: it can't be a direct object.

And it's so easy to make it work, simply by removing a syllable. Here is what the captain of the Event Horizon actually said after getting sucked into the hell dimension and tearing his own eyes out:
Libera temet ex inferis.
Free yourself from hell.
This has the advantage of being grammatically correct. Also, now that the tu- is gone, it's more straightforward to get the initial, truncated version liberate me from the full version.

You could argue, I suppose, that getting pulled into the realm of ultimate chaos and evil might cause you to make elementary mistakes in your Latin. But that's a possibility too horrible to contemplate.

Infinite space. Infinite error.

1 comment:

  1. Hi!
    The solution you point is my favourite too as it is really similar to the one it is mistaken by.

    But indeed I think
    libera te tutemet ex inferis
    is also correct, as "tutemet" = tute + met, and tute = tu, nominative and vocative, so it just emphasises you are on your own: "save you YOURSELF from Hell", as Stefan Bach pointed here: