Z6PO? How the French originally translated the names of Star Wars characters

May the 4th is Star Wars day ("May the Fourth be with you"). In its honour, here's how the Star Wars characters were given a French makeover for a French audience. Que la force soit avec toi.

Z6PO? How the French originally translated the names of Star Wars characters
Photo: AFP

In the original Star Wars most of the characters had to be given a French name so it was either more pronounceable or more understandable to a French audience. 

But how do you translate names like Chewbacca and Darth Vader?

Here’s a look at what the original French characters were called, although some of the names have been dropped since the seventies after the translations were ridiculed by French viewers.

Note that the original film was called “La Guerre des Etoiles” but the cultural language police seem to have softened up a bit since 1977 with the original English name Star Wars adopted for the newer films.

1. Jabba the Hutt = Jabba “the Woodsman”

Jabba the Hutt, the gangster described as a cross between a toad and a Cheshire cat, was called “Jabba Le Forestier” (Jabba the Woodsman) in the original French version of the film. Nowadays he is typically referred to in French as Jabba le Hutt. 

2. The Millenium Falcon =  Le Millénium Condor

The legendary spaceship driven by Han Solo had to be given a French makeover and it was decided the best name to suit it was “Le Millénium Condor”, but that name has since been dropped too and the Faucon Millénium seems to suffice these days.

3. Han Solo = Yan Solo

Given that French people can struggle to pronounce the letter H, Han Solo was given a name change and became Yan Solo. Not far off, but just not the same.

4. C3PO and R2D2 = Z6PO and D2R2

The famous droids from the film also had their names changed for a French audience. For some reason the blue and white R2-D2 was reversed to become D2-R2 and his buddy C3PO became Z-6PO, possibly because “C3” when pronounced in French sounds a little bit too much like “C'est toi” – “It's you”

5. Chewbacca = Chiktabba

The “Chew” sound is another tough one for the French so the film's famous furry fighter was renamed “Chiktabba”, or “Chico” for short. 

6. Darth Vader = Dark Vador

That old pesky “th” sound is a problem for French tongues so Darth Vader had to be given a Gallic name as change – well, more of an Anglo name change as he became “Dark Vador” on French screens. Not too far from the truth. 

7. Luke Skywalker = Luke “Skyrunner”

The “humble farmboy who rose to become the greatest Jedi fighter ever known” (not our words) was actually called Luc Courleciel (Luke “Skyrunner”) in the original film, but since then he's been allowed to drop the French translation.

All photos: AFP


Star Wars spin-off ‘Solo’ to be presented at Cannes

The latest spin-off in the Star Wars saga, dedicated to Han Solo, will be screened at Cannes next month, the film festival announced on Friday.

Star Wars spin-off 'Solo' to be presented at Cannes
Solo: A Star Wars Story will hit theatres in May. Photo: Lucasfilm
'Solo: A Star Wars Story' will grace the festival's red carpet ahead of its release in France and the US.
“Presented out of competition, the latest film of the Star Wars galaxy (directed) by Ron Howard brings together Han Solo, his faithful Chewbacca, the crooked Lando Calrissian, the Millenium Falcon and of course the droids,” the festival said on its website.
'Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith' was the last in the franchise to air at Cannes in 2005.
The latest instalment takes the audience back to the youth of the famous smuggler and pilot Han Solo, played by US actor Alden Ehrenreich.
It is the second spin-off derived from the famous science fiction series, after 'Rogue One' was released in December 2016 which made more than $1 billion at the box office.
The Cannes International Film Festival will run from May 8th to 19th.