Baron Noir’s subtitling really has gone to pot this season

Baron Noir Season 2

Subtitling is a delicate art, as I’ve mentioned before. It takes time, skill and an appreciation of language – at least two languages, in fact.

Amazon is currently trying to keep pace with Canal+ (France)’s airing schedule for the second season of Baron Noir. Kudos to them for trying. Still, at two episodes a week, I’m wondering if that’s too much for whomever they’re got as a translator*.

It started out fine. But as I noted when discussing the third episode this morning, since then it’s all gone to pot. Watching episode four, I’m finding words are missing, there are mistranslations, tenses are wrong, expressions are used incorrectly and more. There are no attempts a lot of the time to render certain useful terms into English: it might take the casual viewer a little time to work out what FN and SP/PS (they’re used interchangeably in the subtitles) are, for example – they’re the National Front and the Socialist Party respectively.

A lot of the time, the subtitles simply don’t make sense.

You can see there that someone doesn’t know that depuis in French doesn’t work like for/since in English. That’s GCSE level that is.

Similarly, tenses go a bit wild here, for example.

I reckon at least 10% of the subtitles have mistakes and about a third of those mistakes render them incomprehensible. It’s a shame because this season is a right cracker, too.

Not that Roku seems to want to let me watch all of it:

Roku Baron Noir

Who needs episodes 3 and 4, hey? Go straight to 5! (We can spoiler that for you, too, BTW)

Right back to my web browser for the rest of episode 4…

*UPDATE: A quick perusal of the credits for seasons 1 and 2 reveals that the contract has gone from TitraFilm Paris, where one Holly Diener did the subtitling, to VDM, whose shonky home page should give you a further idea of how good their English is. Amazon – rehire TitraFilm and Holly!


  • I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.