Screenwriting : How can you solve this difficult story issue? by Victor Titimas

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Victor Titimas

How can you solve this difficult story issue?

One of the hardest issue to solve in a believable way is that of English speaking space aliens... How could they know English or any other Earth language if they come from a different galaxy?

How can they talk to human characters in a story?(Think Stargate SG-1)... I don't know any other solution except using the "rule" that in a movie, everyone speaks the same language of its makers(eg: English for Hollywood).

Anthony Moore

In one screenplay, I used in parenthetical (Subtitled alien language), as the aliens were hostile, saw us a primitives and were not staying long thus no need to learn our language. Plus they rarely spoke and most of the scenes were featuring the main character.

Izzibella Beau

I think if they're intelligent enough to able to come to Earth, then they should be able to communicate in whatever language is necessary.

Alden Tan

I remember reading a quote by James Cameron when he was asked something like, why the aliens in Avatar had the same anatomy as humans.

Then he simply answered, "Because it's a movie for humans."

I think that was pretty direct and awesome. For the sake of a movie for humans, I guess just... let it be I guess?

Dan Guardino

Alden is right. It is a movie and you don't have to explain something like. Also how do we know they don't speak English. I never met one before.

Ally Shina

In most movies, they write in a translator. Like the Babel Fish on Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy (well, it was authored in the book) and The Universal Translator on Star Trek. It's the simplest method I've come across.

Martina Cook

Watch "Arrival" for inspiration :)

Dan MaxXx

I wonder how James Cameron would respond to the same question when he was a 1st timer doing a Roger Corman movie? After Titanic, Cameron can do whatever he wants.

As for space Aliens understanding Earth people- anything is possible. Set up the world and its rules. Folks can believe anything if you do it right.

Rachel Walker

They could be telepathic and get into people's heads..

Ester Lopez

Or, like an editor suggested to me that maybe they have a translator of sorts. In my story, I used a translator and their common language between planets had a different name but it was still English. Also, I mentioned that they had been visiting our planet for centuries, suggesting that maybe we learned English from them?

Doug Nelson

You're writing Science FICTION. If the story is any good, the audience will overlook that little issue. Remember, Mr. Spock (& his parents) spoke English back in the 60's - even Morkand the Klingons speak English.

Chad Stroman

Have you seen "Arrival"? When it comes to language it really depends on what your intent is of your story. In "Independence Day" they don't speak English. They speak telepathically. It really depends on how much of your time you want to spend making communication an issue. Then you have "Star Trek" where every uniform has some Universal Translator.

You just need to determine what role language is going to play in your story.

Dylan Kilgour

This can take an audience out or draw your audience in so it does deserve consideration. But unless the answer is central to the overall narrative (Learning to talk teaches the alien about humanity) it needs to be handled quickly. Fortunately, as with Star trek’s universal translator, the audience doesn’t need much in the way of explanation. If your aliens are friendly, all you need is a moment when the alien doesn’t speak English then some little machine goes DING and he does. And if the aliens are evil, well then they’ve been watching us and plotting our demise. When done well this enriches the world of the narrative, and draws the audience in. A great example is the Fifth Element when Leeloo (Milla Jovovich)doesn’t speak English, but we see her teaches herself to read by going through the WHOLE INTERNET. But as she does she learns about war, which leads her to give up hope and forces Korben (Bruce Willis) to tell her he loves her. Which gives us the emotional climax of the movie.

Mark Ratering

Make a point of the Alien putting in a earpiece that translates.

Myron DeBose

Interesting topic. I've had this exact same conversation about action films. They seem easy but GENRE writing is not. I'm a true fan of fantasy (horror, scifi, mythical) and have been reading comics, fables and etc my whole life. Don't slow down the read with minor details.

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