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FILM TITLES GLORIOUSLY TRANSLATED

By / 08.01.08

Today USA Today has an article about a subject I’ve always been interested in: the re-titling of films for the foreign market.  The Dark Knight, Get Smart, and The Happening became The Knight of the Night, Super Agent 86, and The End of Time in Mexico, for instance.

Titles are often tweaked to sound better in the local language, or to provide a hint of the plot to audiences who might be skeptical of what is, to them, a foreign film. That’s why Steve Carell’s Get Smart is playing variously as Max the Menace (France), Agent Smart: Casino Totale (Italy), Is the Spy Capable or Not? (Taiwan), and Confused Spy (China).

Local customs are also taken into account. Last year’s comedy hit Knocked Up was given the gentler title Slightly Pregnant in Roman Catholic Peru and the gloriously blunt One Night, Big Belly in China. [USA Today]

Ah the Chinese, so delightfully literal. Strangely, re-titling isn’t limited to non-English speaking countries, as I discovered in Australia, where Saving Silverman became Evil Woman (did someone think the Aussies wouldn’t see a movie with a Jewish name in the title?) and Joy Ride became Road Kill (no idea why what got changed).  But my all-time favorite for strangely translated movie titles is The Phillipines’ version of The Pacifier, Gnome. If any Filipinos are reading this, I would love to hear an explanation of that.  And, uh, sorry about all those ladyboy jokes.

In Asia, I imagine Wicker Man is known as Why is the Bear Man Yelling?


TAGSFOREIGNERSONE NIGHT BIG BELLYthe dark knightTHE HAPPENING

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