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International ROTJ Cardbacks: Fracophone Countries

Kenner Canada's version of the ROTJ cardback is slightly different from its southern cousin.

The design differences from the American version are exclusively resultant from the linguistic differences. Due to Canada's bilingual laws it was mandated that a certain amount of all content be in French and English. Interestingly enough, Bill 101 aka. Loi 101 aka. the bilingual law was passed three months and 1 day after Star Wars opened in 1077.

Unlike the Palitoy version, we have the Assortment number. I believe that is because this is technically a Kenner product. This also ensures the snazzy blue Kenner logo on the bottom.

The rest of the "outside the race track" area is infiltrated by French. Below the English "Ages 4 and up" you see "A partir de 4 ans." A quick look below will show you that the French translation from France is different (4 ans et plus), and more of an anglicism. This difference is probably due to the fact that Canada tries to have a French that is more pure than the French. (It is the only country in the world with Poulet Frit Kentucky, In France it is plain old KFC).

Not only is the age warning different, but so is the Country of Origin. On the French card it says "FABRIQUE A HONG KONG" and on the Canadian card it says "Fait a Hong Kong." These details are minor, but they still showcase how national differences can come out through the most minor detail of the most globalized product.

For more on this card click here.

Finally we have a noticeably different cardfront made by the Meccano company in France. As already noted, the age warning and the country of origin are surprisingly different than those we see with the Canadian version.

From a design standpoint the "Guerre des Etoiles" is interesting as it reintroduces the "double racetrack" that disappeared from other packaging with "The Empire Strikes Back"

This double racetrack draws our attention to the fact that "Star Wars" is translated into French. Though they have abandoned this version française in the modern era, in the vintage era they never dropped it. (For a good site on the "Guerre Des Etoiles" era visit this blog.) Within this translation it is worth noting that the French have made "Stars" plural, which is left open to interpretation in English. Translated literally it means "The War of the Stars." This removes some of the mystery from Lucas' original wording which seems to be more for a kind of assonance than for explaining the plot. It is funny that the title in English has plural wars and singular star while the French have singular war and plural stars.

Within the rectangular racetrack we see that "Return of the Jedi" has been translated as "Le Retour du Jedi." The French language is less loosey goosey with their articles, so they had to put "le" before "retour." And it is with the "du" that we have an answer to the ambiguous and untranslatable Jedi problem. Du is a contraction of de (meaning 'from') and le (meaning 'the' singular, masculine). So, the title translates as "The Return of the singular (masculine) Jedi." We should not make too much from the masculine aspect of it, as most English words and slang are automatically masculine. Even if it were a female Jedi one would say she is "le jedi." But the fact that it is singular is what might interest us. The stars were plural "des étoiles,' but the Jedi are not.

Interestingly enough, the French would have a different approach 22 years later with the release of "Revenge of the Sith." They employ the plural partitive "La Revanche des Sith" . Why are Jedi singular and Sith plural? I leave it open to discussion, but I thought it at least bore passing thought.

For more on this figure click here.