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The narration starts like this:

Their manuscripts would have been accepted immediately. They would’ve been published the next fall. Finally, they would’ve been authors.

My first thought is, because "would have" was used, whatever would've happened, didn't. However, the whole movie is narrated in this tense, and there's never a continuation, a "but it didn't". Even at the end.

How can this make sense? I understand that you can say "he would go on to do many things" to narrate the past, but I've never seen "would've".

This is regarding the English subtitles for the Norwegian movie Reprise (2006)

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  • It may match the tense in the original (some type of Norwegian?) But it might be describing something that has not yet happened when the film finishes, hence the hypothetical. Or just be a hypothetical. Compare "He would have got the bus", which can mean "I don't know for sure but I assume because how else could he have got home?"
    – Stuart F
    Jun 18, 2023 at 23:43

1 Answer 1

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I’m not familiar with this film, but you are correct that “they would have” implies that it did not happen. The fact that the narration is this way throughout the movie might be a stylistic choice meant to emphasize all the things that, in fact, did not happen. The narrator did not necessarily need to follow up with “but it didn’t happen” if that was clear to the audience from the context of the film. However, given how confused you were, I think it’s far more likely that the film was merely translated poorly. Would the film make more sense if the narrator said their manuscripts “were accepted,” and they “were published” and they “became authors?” If so, then I’d assume the dialogue was mistranslated.

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