A Lesson in Word Order

The following is the ending scene from the best movie in existence, “5 Centimeters Per Second”. I’ve seen it multiple times over multiple years, but it wasn’t until the time I played Dreamfall that I [believe I] finally grasped the entire meaning of the story. While this was certainly made possible by all of other things I was reading and thinking at the time, it was also due to the fact I wasn’t actually watching the same movie. To talk about how everything’s different every time you look at it would be redundant; I speak literally of different content:

I don’t understand Japanese fluently. I read the subtitles. All of the other times I watched this movie, I had certain subtitles.

This time, it had different subtitles. I don’t know all of the differences between the script that may have influenced my understanding (I’ll write another entry for 5cm/s one day; it’s better than an epilogue to a different story), but the ending was certainly the most important by far. The “actual message” being conveyed is basically the same, but due to the scene, the scene order, and other factors, this simple difference in “bolding” of words could be said to be the decider on why I didn’t understand it all these years. The first version I watched was more strictly correct in terms of what’s being subtitled; i.e. the Japanese spoken during the time the English is up is actually what was being spoken. The second one was not – but because the subtitles were more “based in English”, it made all the difference.

Perhaps the first version will speak to you more?

I will put a line break every time the subtitles have a line break. Unfortunately only one of the versions – the “first” version – is on YouTube, but fortunately the line breaks are on the same timings, so you can mentally implant different words the second time. I do recommend watching the entire movie; don’t just look it up. Due to the structure of the movie, this isn’t really a spoiler, and you don’t really need to know the specifics of what came before it.

The fact that the subtitle of this movie is “A chain of short stories about their distance” suffices to explain everything you need to know.

First Version (subtitle group: ?)

1 | Yesterday, I had a dream.
2 | A dream I have had since long ago.
3 | In that dream, we had yet to turn 13.
4 | We were in a vast countryside completely covered in snow,
5 | the lights of the houses extended far into the distance, a dazzling sight.
6 | We walked on the thick carpet of fresh snow, but did not leave any footprints.
7 | And like that,
8 | “Someday, we will be able to watch the cherry blossoms together again”,
9 | both of us, without any doubts at all,
0 | that’s what we thought.

Second Version (subtitle group: RaX)

1 | Yesterday I had a dream.
2 | A dream of long ago.
3 | In the dream, we were still 13.
4 | And we were standing in a field covered with snow…
5 | where in the dim light from distant houses,
6 | our footsteps were all that could be seen in the new fallen snow.
7 | And because of that
8 | we both believed without any doubt
9 | that someday, we’d watch the cherry blossoms fall again…
0 | …together.

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