I love the movie Elysium, but if has one fault, it is that on occasions people drop into Spanish, French or Afrikaans.

Don't get me wrong, it does seem quite natural for the characters to be speaking a language other than English, but I find that:

  • Not having the subtitles, you wonder if you are missing out on important stuff (and yes, there are some interesting things said, especially by the Nun who cares for the youthful Max.)
  • Having the subtitles visible when English is being spoken is quite distracting.1

What are they saying?

  1. On the other hand, I can watch Paul Verhoeven's Black Book with subtitles and enjoy it. Since not a single word of English is spoken, after around 10 minutes I stop noticing I am reading the subtitles, and by 20 minutes in I forget it is not in English! (Weird ..huh?)
  • If you don't know what the nun said, how do you know it's interesting? Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 10:54
  • 2
    I didn't notice that was your answer below. Appy polly loggies. Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 11:19
  • @MeatTrademark It's cool. :) Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 11:28
  • 1
    SRT files can be opened in Notepad and edited like a Word Doc., which means you can save or delete whatever text you choose and so long as you leave the timing intact and just alter the dialogue you can have subtitles on whatever parts you need them for.
    – user25790
    Commented May 1, 2014 at 10:53
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    "after around 10 minutes I stop noticing I am reading the subtitles, and by 20 minutes in I forget it is not in <my native language>!" That's like how I felt it before learning english
    – jean
    Commented Nov 16, 2015 at 19:24

4 Answers 4


I painstakingly transcribed the parts in Spanish & French. Here is the result. Note there are spoilers, watch the film first, then come back for the detail, then watch the film again, with new eyes (is what I recommend).

The only characters to speak in a language other than Spanish are Kruger and Delacourt. Kruger speaks Afrikaans while Delacourt and all citizens of Elysium speak French.

I have high-lit all non English, since in some conversations it seems to segue smoothly between the two.

Part 1

(Max is staring up at Elysium)
Nun: Max! Come on. Don't keep the Sisters waiting. (Max follows her into a dingy room, a girl is there) This is Frey. She's new here as well.
(Cuts to another time, Max is looking at a book with pictures of animals)
Frey: Can you read? (Max shakes his head - Frey sits down beside him)
It's a giraffe. They were from Africa.
Max: You can read?
Frey: Yes.

(cuts again - Max is running towards his bunk excitedly, he unwraps something stored there - a book on Elysium)

Frey: (Reading In English) There are many robots servants, and they serve you all day. If you live there, you never get sick, or old.
Max: I'll takes us there one day.
Frey: Really?
Max: Yeah, I promise.
Frey: (starts drawing on Max's palm) Frey .. and .. Max .. Forever

(Another cut to the two of them running and laughing. Max is carrying something.)
Nun: Max, have you been stealing things again? (Max nods guitily) It breaks my heart. Why do you do this? (Max, looks up at the sky) So you can save up? One day buy a ticket to that place? (Cut to the luxurious environment - people are attending a party - cut to a woman walking back from her pool as she carelessly shrugs off an outer covering - shows her in one of the med bays) That place is not for you, or for me.
Max: But it's not fair, Sister. Why can't I go there?
Nun: Sometimes in life we don't understand why things are the way they are. But I know one thing. I know you are special. You will do something very important one day. Something you were born for. (cuts to view of grown Max) My little Max. (Max washes his face, leaves his dingy hovel, and starts to go to work wearing overalls marked Armadyne. He is taunted by a guy standing near his home)
Guy: Off to work huh? Gotta' get up early to work that line.
Another guy: Make the world a better place.
Max: (while walking away from them) That's real funny, I have a job. (A group of children run towards Max) Come on boys, do you think I got money? Do I look like I have money? Come on. (Addresses the most persistent child) How about you? You got a little money? (picks kid up, turns him upside down and shakes him playfully) Come on. What have you got in there? What have you got? (something drops to the ground) Oh, wait a minute. Wait a minute. (he puts the boy down and picks the object up) Oh, it's five bucks, Hey, wait a minute. I got 5 bucks. I'm rich. (He holds the money up, teasing the boy) I can finally buy my ticket to Elysium. All right.
(Tosses the money behind him as the children scrabble for it. (He sees two airborne craft zip across the sky in front of him, but puts his head down to concentrate on traversing the crude path & stay out of trouble).

Part 2:

(As Max is being pulled from the radiation chamber - cuts back to his youth)
Max: They started the fight, Sister. (Max is looking at Elysium) I just want to live there.
Nun: You see how beautiful it looks to us from here?
Max: Yes.
Nun: Well.. Now look how beautiful we look from there. (She gives him a hinged pendant with an image of Earth inside) Keep it. This is yours now. To never forget about where you come from. (cuts back to robot tending to Max)

Part 3:

(Delacourt is making a deal with the Carlysle in a secure area - they conclude the deal. She unlocks the secure area they were speaking in, turns and walks away from him, over her shoulder.)
Delacourt: You have work to do, Mr. Carlysle. (French)

Part 4:

(A crude surgical team is about to operate on Max)
Max: Is this gonna hurt? (general laughter)
Sandro: Yeah, bitch, it's gonna hurt. It's gonna hurt good. When we're done with you, you're gonna be a favela ninja. Marianna, hey, bring down the bone saw. (the rest of the team is passing a roach clip around)
Unknown: Bring the bone saw!
Max: This ain't gonna kill me.
Sandro: You're gonna be all right, my brother.

(cut to later)

Julio: Hey. He's awake!


Julio: Nervous?
Max: No.
Julio: No?
Max: I'm shitting my pants (they both laugh nervously)

(Later - Max is running from pursuit, looks around for a place to hide - an elderly woman tending pigs in a trailer, points beneath it. Max crawls under, the pursuers fail to pick him up, and he crawls out and stands)
Max: Gracias (thanks)

Part 5:

Kruger is singing a song to a child to calm her. No sub-titles presented, but see the answer of @PietDelport for the information regarding the song Jan Pierewiet.

Part 6:

Nun: (voice over) Everyone has one special thing, Max. One thing that they are destined to do. One thing they were born for.


Nun: (voice over) repeating the 'never forget where you come from' speech.

  • 1
    I'm confused as to why you posted this as an answer. You are not providing anything that isn't already in the subtitles.
    – Stephan B
    Commented Jan 17, 2014 at 6:39
  • @Stephan I thought I'd explained that in the question! But to reiterate, I detest actually watching the movie with sub-titles on. The combination of English words with sub-titles below them is quite distracting (to me at least). If there were a way to enable 'sub-titles for non-English parts only', that would be optimal, but I've not found it.. Commented Jan 17, 2014 at 6:41
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    I didn't realize that the foreign language subtitles are missing when subs are turned off! (I usually watch my Blu-rays with subtitles turned on regardless.)
    – Stephan B
    Commented Jan 17, 2014 at 6:56
  • @Stephan If there is one feature of sub-titles I'd like to see, it is 'sub-titles for different language(s) only', but I suspect that the current format for sub-titles does not really support that. It would require the DVD maker to add an extra sub-title track explicitly for it. Like.. 'English sub-titles for all speech' and 'English sub-titles for non-English speech only'.. I doubt that will be coming any time soon. :-( Commented Jan 17, 2014 at 7:24

The Afrikaans, a large part of which is anything BUT swear words:

Lekker - tasty, nice, great, okay, swell. Anything and everything can be lekker.

Afrikaans has more diminutives than you can shake a stick at for both nouns and proper names, a large number of which have a KEE sound. It's a hallmark of the language. That's how Drake's name becomes Drakie, although technically, the diminutive there is IE since the K already exists. An interesting use of the diminutive is when Kruger shouts, "I'm going to pulverize that little one!" wtih the 'little one' being a direct shift of an Afrikaans language concept into English.

Boykie - lit. little boy, a two-language compound which is the English BOY combined with the Afrikaans diminutive KIE. Used much in the sense of "kid." In the hierarchy of the commando unit, Kruger's men would NEVER dare call him boykie. He's baas (boss) or Kruger. If he called one of his men boykie, it would be in a friendly or mildly reprimanding way (although as his tried-and-true comrades, he'd still be far, far more likely to give them the dignity of BOET). But when he calls Max boykie, he's taunting him.

Boet - dim. of brother, like saying bro, chum, mate. Again, the hierarchy has Kruger calling everyone that, while Crowe and Drakie would address each other that way, but not the baas. Addressed to Max, it's used neutrally or in contempt.

Poes/Poesie - well, that one's definitely a cuss-word. Pussy/bastard.

Kak - as the saying goes, Kak Happens. I'm sure you can figure that one out!

It wasn't said in so many words, but what Kruger is doing up on his rooftop isn't called a barbecue. It's a braai, and a totally badass one, at that. It's a rare man who will ever get to flip the backyard steaks with a katana.

Long-winded, I know, but I hope it helps.


The song that Kruger creepily sings is Jan Pierewiet, a traditional Afrikaans children's rhyme.

In Afrikaans:

Jan Pierewiet, Jan Pierewiet, Jan Pierewiet, staan stil
Jan Pierewiet, Jan Pierewiet, Jan Pierewiet, staan stil
Goeie môre my vrou, hier's 'n soentjie vir jou
Goeie môre my man, daar is koffie in die kan

Translated to English:

Jan Pierewiet, Jan Pierewiet, Jan Pierewiet, stand still
Jan Pierewiet, Jan Pierewiet, Jan Pierewiet, stand still
Good morning my wife, here's a (little) kiss for you
Good morning my husband, there is coffee in the pot

  • @PietDelport Hahaa, as a native Afrikaans sprekende(speaking?) person I find the translation of that old song quite odd. Though- that's literally what the song says xD Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 10:35

With the Afrikaans, at least, most of it was cussing. I think it comes across by tone even if you don't understand the exact word.

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