When movies travel abroad, their titles can get a little lost in translation. Check out what your favourite films are called overseas!
That’s the French title for Star Wars; in Spanish, it was The War of the Galaxies. Makes sense! The title isn’t the only thing that got a major switch in translation. In Germany, the Millennium Falcon became the Speeding Falcon. In France, Han Solo was instead Yan Solo and his Wookie sidekick got the name “Chico.” And their ship? The “Millennium Condor.” The Force definitely wasn’t with those translators.
It kind of makes sense…? In Spain, that was the title of The Dark Knight. You may have thought that the Batman movie got its title from its brooding protagonist and gloomy cityscapes, but in Spain, they were much more literal – it’s because so many scenes take place at night!
You’re not going to be able to guess this one: Super Power Dare Die Team would have been the Chinese title for the Ghostbusters reboot starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and Leslie Jones – had it ever been released. Guidelines in China forbid movies that “promote cults or superstition,” though the country’s censors said the official reason was that it wouldn’t appeal to the Chinese audience.
The beloved tearjerker Free Willy is known for its happy ending. The Chinese saw things differently, giving the movie the above title instead. Then again, Willy did jump (not run) to the metaphorical heaven of the open ocean.
The Sixth Sense has one of the greatest twist endings of all time – unless you happen to live in China. Although most audiences were stunned by the movie’s revelation in the final minutes, Chinese viewers were already clued in by the title.
Denmark gave Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory quite the dark (but also kind of hilarious) spin! While greedy Augustus Gloop does take a harrowing swim in a chocolate river, his fate is not quite that grim. While many countries kept the original title of the Gene Wilder classic, and others tweaked it to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the title of the Roald Dahl novel it’s based on), Portugal changed it to Charlie’s Wonderful Story and Spain picked A Fantasy World. But Denmark’s interpretation definitely takes the (chocolate) cake.
Let’s face it: It’s only a matter of time before Hollywood co-opts this Danish title for Die Hard with a Vengeance. In Denmark, mega means huge, but it also signifies a million. Those Danes are intense. “Die Hard: A million times hard.”
The Japanese get points for brutal honesty with this title for Leaving Las Vegas. Nicolas Cage won the Best Actor Oscar for his devastating performance, and his co-star Elisabeth Shue was riveting in her role in the acclaimed drama. Nonetheless, he was portraying a drunk, and she did play a prostitute. (The title also happens to be a paraphrase of one of Cage’s lines from the movie.)
Israel, where meatballs are not a popular dish, clearly wanted to make Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs more appealing to its audience. So the Hebrew title swapped out the meatballs for falafel, a more recognisable food. In the film itself, though, the animated meatballs were not altered.
In the first Step Up film, Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan come from opposite sides of the tracks. But they’re able to bond through dance and it’s beautiful. Whoever titled the French version of the film simply cut to the chase and called it Sexy Dance. That pretty much nails it!
Yep: Grease. Everyone loves Olivia Newton-John as Sandy during her epic transformation in this iconic musical from 1978. John Travolta as Danny is the one that she wants, even though he’s a tough guy greaser. In 1950s slang, that means he slicks his hair back and has a bad reputation. But for the movie release in Argentina, the title was simply Vaseline. Talk about lost in translation…
This German designation for the reboot of The Parent Trap is quite… literal. It was Lindsay Lohan’s first starring turn – the 1961 original starred Hayley Mills. The story is about twin sisters, raised apart by feuding parents, who decide to reunite the family; the twins are played by a single actress in both film versions. Maybe that’s why the German title-writer decided to get philosophical with this title.
The point of Silver Linings Playbook is that they’re both a little crazy, Russia! However, we can’t blame translators for changing this title. Since the English phrase “every cloud has a silver lining” doesn’t really have foreign equivalents, other countries had to seek an alternative name for the film. France called the comedy Happiness Therapy, and Lithuania went with The Story of the Optimists. And finally, since a “playbook” is an American football term, the United Kingdom dropped that part and just went with Silver Linings. Seems reasonable.
The marketing of the blockbuster Jaws was brilliant for its minimalist simplicity. With one word, audiences got a taste of the horror to come. The visual of the iconic movie poster – a woman swimming above a massive open-mouthed shark – gave the single word “Jaws” its power and impact. In France, the effect was a bit muted: The Teeth of the Sea sounds much less scary and a lot more confusing.
The French must have decided that every parent’s worst nightmare – leaving a child behind – is actually the child’s fault. That can be the only explanation for altering John Hughes’ Home Alone to the above title. That’s right: Kevin missed the plane, and he brought all this home alone burglar mayhem stuff on himself!
Adam Sandler comedies are not usually known for their inspirational, overcoming-the-odds tales of high stakes struggle and survival. So it’s not clear why The Waterboy was titled Dimwit Surges Forth in Thailand. However, the dimwit’s rinky-dink team does, ahem, surge forth in the end.
This was Germany’s interpretation of the madcap-comedy-slash-disaster-movie-spoof Airplane! Italy also went literal, calling it The Craziest Plane in the World. Several other countries, including Croatia, France and Peru, also lengthened the one-word title, calling it some variation of Is There a Pilot on This Plane? But the funniest title of all might be the working title used for the film during production: Kentucky Fried Airplane.
Anthony Hopkins gave an acclaimed performance as the disgraced president in the biopic Nixon, a drama that humanised the flawed American leader. Oliver Stone’s three-hour epic intended to depict the complexity of Nixon’s impact on history. In China, the film was released with the title Big Liar. Why mince words?
The beloved Pixar film Inside Out told a complicated emotional tale to child and adult audiences alike. However, multiple countries struggled with a quick, clear title for this movie: In China, the movie was called The Great Team Inside the Head. Russia went with Jigsaw. Vietnam chose The Puzzle Emotions. But Thailand may have taken the day by dubbing it Fantastic Emotional Turmoil. That works!
To be fair to the Slovenian translators, that is an accurate summation of the road trip buddy comedy Due Date. Robert Downey Jr. must take a cross-country trip, with Zach Galifianakis as his wacky travel companion, to arrive home in time for the birth of his baby. Unlike Slovenia, some other countries took the original route, working the pregnancy into the title. In Portugal, the film was called A Childbirth Trip. Perhaps most hilarious of all, the movie’s Polish title translates to Before the Water Goes.
Most countries kept the simplicity of the title of Pixar’s Up. Argentina chose Up: An Adventure Up High and the Czech Republic chose To the Skies. Japan, however? Not so much. They chose Grandpa Carl’s Flying House. While that might sound like a comically literal summation of the film, it’s actually somewhat inaccurate – a pivotal detail of Up is the fact that Carl is childless, and therefore not a grandpa. Though we suppose this is a more tactful title than Grumpy Old Guy Carl’s Flying House.
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