Movies Titles - Lost in Translation

2/10/2013 02:08:00 AM

Everybody talks about movies with their friends, including me. Several times, I've been lost in a conversation, under the impression that I haven't seen the movie that my friends are talking about, to their amazement I might add, because of the popularity of said movie. But it's not my fault! Some of the movie titles are completely different.

At first, you may suspect that the 'movie title translation team' probably doesn't speak English very well. I admit that some movies titles are hard to translate, but others aren't and it's usually hit or miss. Either they translate it really well or completely mess it up! I thought that you guys might be interested in hearing a few, so I'll translate the 'translations' back into English and that's where the fun begins!

Here's a list of some of the funniest/strangest examples there are:

Die Hard - Tough Nut

Yup, I said the same thing, but actually, a 'tough nut' (a nut that is hard to crack open) is an idiom for "a really tough person."

Deathproof - Proof of Death

This mistake is actually a bit understandable, but it makes you think that they just typed "Death proof" into Google Translate and said, "Done!"

Pay it Forward - Pay Someone Else

Maybe I'm wrong, but I think they could have done a better job with this one, and if they couldn't, it's still funny when you translate it back into English!

Seeking Justice - The Hungry Rabbit Attacks

This is just one of those WTF moments...

The Ring - The Call

Now this one actually made me go, "Hooooooooly shiii..." Maybe it's just me, but I never connected it! The movie has a bit of a play on the word "ring", and I only realized it with the help of the Russian translation.

The Pacifier - Bald Nanny: Special Operation (Spec-Ops)
(Honorable Mention - German: The Babynator)

This is a play on words on our part, so of course it's hard to translate.

Hangover - Bachelor party in Las Vegas

The sequel being: "Bachelor Party 2: From Vegas to Bangkok"

Lawless - The Drunkest District in the World

I haven't seen this one, so I have no context. Hopefully, when I do, I'll have that same realization everyone had as a kid when they were watching a movie and the title finally made sense!

The men who stare at goats - Crazy Spetnaz

This one could have easily been translated literally, but where's the fun in that?

Men of Honor - Military Diver

This has to be the most generic title I've ever heard...

The Expendables - The Unstoppables

For now, I just want you to keep in mind that Stallone is the leader of "The Unstoppables"

Bullet to the head - Unstoppable

That's right, Mr. Unstoppable is back!

The Fast and the Furious - Afterburner

This series usually has just a slight change in the title; "2 Fast 2 Furious", "Fast and Furious". Well, in Russian the sequels were; "Double Afterburner", "Triple Afterburner" then, "Afterburner 4" and 5.

Pitch Black - Black Hole

"Chronicles of Riddick" was translated perfectly, but this... there wasn't even a black hole in the movie!

So, that's my list. I had a few more, but I figured I'd only pick the best ones. If you know of some others that I missed that are crazy as well, feel free to comment below. Thanks for reading!

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  1. Inception (en) == The begin (ru, Начало)
    Some like it hot == There are only girls in the jazz (В джазе только девушки)

  2. Also, there are some funny things about translation gender changes:
    1. Bagheera is a female character in Russian version of the book;
    2. Owl, a friend of Winnie-the-pooh, is a female animal too;
    3. And in Russian the Cat is walking by herself.

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  5. Some translations get lost due to the fact that there are translators who prefer to interpret titles based on the context of a movie, rather than translating them semantically. I think the issue there is a matter of cultural diversity. Like the movie Die Hard, for example, is translated as 'Tough Nut' in the vernacular language. As strange as that might sound, the phrase is actually a metaphorical term for a really tough person, which basically is what the movie is all about. Thus, while the translation seem to have get lost in its textual form, it is merely buried deep down under its contextual meaning. In any way, thanks for sharing an interesting read! All the best to you!

    Israel Oliver @ Atlas-Translations

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