Latin For You

Teaching and translating ancient Latin since 1986

Latin for Film & TV

If you were to have a good look, you would be surprised how often Latin language and even Roman culture gets used, mentioned, referred to in film or on TV.  Behind each of those references is someone who knows and understands the Latin language.

Samples of Latin Work I have Done

+  Night at the Museum II (Battle of the Smithsonian)  In this film there is a picture of an old map of the world which is written in Latin.  My job was to ensure that aall of the Latin on this map was correct and authentic.

Sanctuary  Amanda Tapping's production required

Saint Sinner  I provided voice coaching for the actor playing Brother Thomas for recitation of the Lord's Prayer.  Script editing was also provided.

Other Samples of Latin in Film or TV

Dead Poet's Society (1989) - Robin William's iconic scene with his English literature students centred on his whispering "Carpe Diem" while he told them to live their lives to the fullest. This led directly to --

Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) - In one scene Robin William's character picks up his false teeth and exclaims "Carpe Dentem, seize the teeth". It's a good joke and good Latin. A scrupulous Latinist might say that teeth is plural, but dentem is singular. But the Romans were apt to play fast and loose with singular and plural. The infamous poem by Catullus about Egnatius and his teeth cleaning habits uses dentem (singular) and dentes (plural) interchangeably.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) - When going through the 'trials' to reach the Holy Grail, Indie needs to remember that in the Latin alphabet the 'J' in Jehovah is spelled with an 'I'.

Lost (the series, 2004 - 2010) - Late in the series it is revealed that the inhabitants of the island go back at least as far as Roman times and so Latin was spoken at one time. Latin dialogue is used on a few occasions.

The Borgias (2011) - In the opening minutes of the first episode, Giovanni de Medici's class is interrupted with an official letter that he has been appointed to the College of Cardinals.  The text of the letter is very briefly visible and I offer what I was able to glean out of it:

-omino laudale dominum errans __tumn benedicumus est valer fuit imor et ne effugere et ferro puo placeret est profondis cum et vertas confitibor va at deo mea anima humanitus divot cocutus errans atrum rectius frustro crueno pinas et celsae.  Nomen fuit Giovanni de Medici qua magna fecit invocarum primot imberas nubibus.  Pac semper teris calendis terrarium fiarum sacrimul hispidos atul imberas diveros est postulant artes lacrimus presit martis caelebis docte pelaris in vivos frustra cueno pinas alter flumine plena nomini pro qua n-

I would love to be ale to translate this and give the producers credit for the efforts they went to in order to get every detail right.  But I can't.  The above text has many real Latin words and several are relevant to the context (dominum = lord, deo = god, mea anima = my soul, caelebis = bachelor), but some words are near misses (profondis, humanitus, primot) and even if we can reconstruct each individual word, they just don't go together.  This reminds me of the lorem ipsum text.  Dummy text which is meant to look right (from a distance), but which says nothing and only exists to fill the space.

Of course there are many titles from both film and TV which are based in the Roman world and which required a great deal of expert knowledge. Gladiator, Rome (the series) and I Claudius leap to mind. A fairly fulsome list can be found on Wikipedia.