The Top 10 Really Goofy Translations of Famous Movie Titles

It’s no secret that movie companies distribute their products to different countries and regions. The majority of box office revenue usually comes from offshore sources such as Europe, Asia and even Latin America. However, some of the translation and localization work always falls on the country receiving the movie.

This can sometimes result in tragic translations of titles and subtitles that audiences catch onto more often than not. What are some of the goofiest translations of famous movie titles that really provoke the question of whether or not professional translators were involved?

  1. Alien (1979) – “The Eighth Passenger” (Yugoslavia)

The title of the famous blockbuster sci-fi horror movie was translated in a very creative way when it debuted in Yugoslavia. Since the plot of the movie follows a crew of seven space truckers that accidentally collect an alien egg, the translators felt the need to use this plot point. The title of the movie literally translates to the eighth passenger, referring to the unknown hostile organism.

  1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) – “If You Leave Me, I Delete You” (Italy)

Another example of using plot points to translate a movie title can be found in Italy. The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a story about love and heartbreak with a touch of sci-fi to boot. Translators felt the urge to use the literal point of the movie and use it to title it for their local audience.

  1. Boogie Nights (1997) – “His Powerful Device Makes Him Famous” (China)

As if it wasn’t enough that the plot of Boogie Nights revolves around a teenager that becomes a porn sensation, Chinese translators felt the urge to use a very descriptive title for their local viewers as well. If it wasn’t clear from the Chinese title, this comedy revolves around building a career around a particular sexual trait that some people deem important enough to point out.

  1. Hot Shots (1991) – “Warm Shots” (Czech Republic)

A good example of confusion in translation can be found in the Czech translation of Hot Shots. While a “hot shot” is considered to be someone of high self-esteem and high ambition, Czech translators somehow overlooked this notion. Warm Shots ended up being the official title of the movie for Czech audiences.

  1. The Dark Knight (2008) – “Knight of the Night” (Spain)

While not wrong in its intent, the Spanish translation of Dark Knight fails to see the notion that the movie revolves around everyone’s favorite Caped Crusader. Batman’s second outing had a very confusing title when it arrived in Spain, something that could have easily been avoided by finding the best translation site on the web. While The Dark Knight emphasizes the duality of Batman’s spirit and nature, Knight of the Night devalues that idea.

  1. Dirty Harry (1971) – “Inspector Harry” (France)

The French translation of Dirty Harry showcases the mentality of people involved in localizing the movie. Dirty Harry refers to a detective that doesn’t play by the rules and likes to take things into his own hands. French translators deemed this wording too “dirty” and instead opted for a more tame translation.

  1. Leon: The Professional (1994) – “This Hit Man Is Not As Cold As He Thought” (China)

It’s clear that Chinese translators prefer describing movie titles instead of simply localizing what the original title says. A good example of this practice can be seen in their translation of Leon: The Professional, a movie about an assassin with a surrogate daughter that he has to protect. This plot point was effectively used to translate the movie’s title for Chinese opening week.

  1. Home Alone (1990) – “Mom, I Missed the Plane” (France)

We have all become familiar with the misadventures of Kevin, a boy that gets left behind when his family goes for a Christmas trip abroad. However, the French audiences were apparently confused by the title and the translators felt the need to localize it further. What we ended up getting was a descriptive title of the movie’s opening minutes.

  1. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009) – “It’s Raining Falafel” (Israel)

It’s common knowledge that Middle-Eastern and Muslim people are not fond of meat products. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs uses the exact thing that can’t work in these countries. If the studio decided to go forward with the original title, they would lose potential viewers and box office revenue – they opted for a compromise instead.

  1. Grease (1978) – “Vaseline” (Argentina)

While this translation might seem silly and unneeded to an American eye, it does make sense in Latin America. Many countries throughout the world use grease as a word that describes fat and other meat byproducts that are used in cooking and other household activities. Vaseline doesn’t fit that description so the word ended up being used for this classic movie.

In summation

There are numerous failed attempts to translate famous movie titles into something that the local audience might understand. While it does seem funny, goofy or inappropriate to move aficionados, local audiences often appreciate the extra effort. Let us know what other funny titles you came across while watching movies in your country!