by Manon Jones
Since buying north Wales football club Wrexham AFC, alongside fellow actor Rob McElhenney, Ryan Reynolds has featured in the first two films to have the option of Welsh subtitles on Netflix. The first film of his to have this exciting option was Red Notice released in 2021 which featured Dwayne Johnson and Gal Gadot alongside Reynolds. This has since been followed by Reynolds’ latest film The Adam Project, also having the option of watching with Welsh subtitles. The inclusion of Welsh subtitles on Netflix is a huge step forward for the Welsh language and it has been received extremely well by many Welsh and non-Welsh speakers.
As a bi-lingual Welsh speaker it is hard to believe that it has taken so long for Welsh subtitles to be available as an option on streaming services for a big release, and that they are firstly available on American made films following the push by Canadian actor Reynolds. Interestingly, Hinterland (also known as Y Gwyll) – which was originally a S4C series but is now available on Netflix – was filmed and released in both English and Welsh but fails to have Welsh subtitles available on Netflix. This, despite the option being easily achievable and beneficial for the series and the Welsh language.
Both Reynolds and McElhenney have been extremely supportive of Wales and the Welsh language following their purchase of the Welsh club as they have been seen to publish tweets in the Welsh language and have promoted Wales both on their other personal social media accounts and within their work on-screen. Netflix has also been seen to tweet in Welsh to announce the release of both films. Having two such well-known celebrities and Netflix itself tweet in Welsh is extremely positive for Wales and the language as it raises awareness and draws the attention to the language that it deserves.
Personally, I believe that it is vitally important that Welsh subtitles are an option on streaming services such as Netflix, in order for the Welsh language to receive the same respect and recognition as other languages have across the world. Although only a small proportion of the world speak the language, it is such a large part of Welsh people’s identity and holds such a valuable role in the culture of Wales.
There has been a significant push to increase the number of Welsh speakers in Wales by the Welsh Government and other organisations with the government launching their ‘Cymraeg 2050’ project which hopes to achieve one million Welsh speakers by 2050. Notably, there has been a rise of users learning Welsh on the popular Duolingo app. There are now 1.62 million people learning Welsh on the app making it now the sixth most popular language to learn in the UK! The inclusion of Welsh subtitles on streaming services would be extremely beneficial to new and learning Welsh speakers in order to improve or sustain their Welsh by being able to watch their favourite films with Welsh subtitles. This would make accessibility to watching media in Welsh much easier as well, as the number of films and television series in the Welsh language is also limited.
Like many other Welsh people and Welsh speakers, I hope to see Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElheney continue to show their support and love for Wales across their social media and alongside their efforts into Wrexham AFC. Likewise, I hope that this is only the beginning of a number of more films that will have Welsh subtitles on Netflix and also the inclusion of more Welsh and Welsh-made films and television being added to popular streaming services.