Ang Lee took home the Oscar for Best Director in last night's Academy Awards. The Taiwanese government seems to have realized the potential for "soft power" its local film industry carries, and I am sure Lee's victory will be a big deal there. Lee has been living in the States for years, but he is still something of a local hero in Taiwan. He's now sure to be even more of an inspiration for Taiwanese filmmakers.
The terms "soft power" and "gross national cool" got thrown around a lot a couple years ago referring to Japan read the Foreign Policy article on the latter here), and according to this AFP article, the Korean drama "Winter Sonata" and its star Bae Yong-joon boosted tourism revenues by $1.1 billion. Capitalizing on soft power seems a good way to go--especially when you are struggling for the attention of the international community like Taiwan is.
Matt of No-sword fame wondered how Brokeback Mountain's famous line "I wish I knew how to quit you" would be rendered into Japanese. Funny, I had been wondering the same thing about that line in Chinese. I saw a reference somewhere to 我希望我知道如何能離開你, so I checked to see if that's really what it is in the movie's Taiwanese theatrical release and according to this Chinese-language blog, it is.
The author of that post says the same line in the book was rendered as 要是我知道如何戒得掉你就好了, and like her I prefer that translation.
我希望我知道如何能離開你 is literally "I hope I know how to leave you." Chinese doesn't have a subjunctive like English ("I wish I knew....") so you could take that line either way. I used to blather on and on about how great the subjunctive is to my students, and the original English line is a great example. After the "I wish I knew...." is a parenthetical: "(but I don't.)" I don't get that resonance from this version of the Chinese.
I am not a native Chinese speaker, but I do get that resonance from 要是我知道如何戒得掉你就好了 because of the structure 要是...就好了 (very literally, "If... that would be good."). I also like the way this translation uses 戒--that's the word you use to say you are "quitting" drinking or cigarettes. The 離開 "leave" of the other version just doesn't have the same impact.
I realize, though, that subtitle-writing is a tricky task. You have to be concise so as to fit on the screen and keep up with the pace . The line has to be understandable at a glance or else it will run the risk of intruding on the film.