Navajo Star Wars a crowd pleaser

By Shondiin Silversmith
Navajo Times

GALLUP, July 4, 2013

Text size: A A A

(Times photo – Donovan Quintero)

TOP: Actors James Junes, left, and James Bilagody speak outside the El Morro Theater Sunday evening during the premiere of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope that was dubbed into the Navajo language.

MIDDLE: An opening line in Navajo starts off with “Long ago” in Navajo during the premiere of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope that was dubbed in Navajo.

BOTTOM: Traffic on Highway 264 passes the Star Wars movie banner on Monday morning east of Tse Bonito, N.M. There will be two shows today and tomorrow of the Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope in the Navajo language.

The original Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope premiered nationwide in1977, but the characters based in a galaxy far, far away were brought a little closer to home during the Navajo dubbed film premiere on June 30 at the El Morro Theater.

"It has a lot of humor in it," said 2012-2013 Miss Navajo Nation Leandra Thomas adding that she caught herself smiling throughout the whole movie. "I've never seen any of the Star Wars movies and it made a lot of sense seeing it once (and) in the Navajo language."


Showing of Navajo 'Star Wars' set for this week

The first character the audience is introduced to in the film is C-3PO and R2-D2 as they walk through their spacecraft while it's being attacked. As the first line in Navajo is spoken by C-3PO the audience erupts in cheers.

"I was very very impressed how all the recordings came together," said Geri Hongeva-Camarillo, who played C-3PO.

As the movie moved forward the crowd reaction remained high as the audience laughed and cheered as each character was introduced with a Navajo voice.

"The tone in Navajo definitely makes a big difference compared to when you listen to something in English," said Donovan Hanley from White Cone, Ariz., who attended the premiere with his mother Ann Maree Hanley. "It was very cool and good representation."

"It was nice to share this with her," said Hanley of his mother. "It's a new way of connecting the older generation with the new."

The movie is 125 minutes long and it is entirely spoken in the Navajo language. The parts that included an alien character with an alien language were subtitled in Navajo. No English subtitles were shown at the bottom of the screen during the movie.

"I think this will encourage our young ones to start picking up Navajo and learn Navajo," said the elder Hanley.

She added that the movie is a great way for the elders to understand why the younger generations watch these types of movies.

Eroina Pahe, 13 from Window Rock, said, "Most people who know Navajo and don't really know how to speak English can actually understand the movie."

Fredrick Long, a secondary character, from Church Rock, N.M took his family to see the movie.

"My daughter and I really love Star Wars but just the fact that it was done in Navajo is something that my kids can watch all the time, but at the same time it's a teaching tool for my children," Long said.

Added his wife Kirsty, "The fact that we could bring our daughter to it was awesome."

"I enjoyed it a lot," Thomas added. "It's only the beginning for many more movies to come."

The Navajo Star Wars will be showing at the Window Rock Sports Center on July 4 and 5.


Contact Shondiin Silversmith at or 928-871-1138.