What’s the logic behind movie titles? Most non-English speaking countries translate movie titles: for the worse. The reasons behind the translations seem very unclear. It has probably to do with the cultural context and language; a particular name or catchphrase that would not necessarily translate well from English; some others are done for marketing purposes. But why are they so bad?
Almost all translated titles are not literal translation, some don’t make any sense, and others contain spoilers! Let’s take a look at the most absurd movie titles, translated, and let’s try to understand the reasons behind those choices.
Last year, Disney Italia has announced that the film Moana will be translated as Oceania. This decision has probably to do with Moana Pozzi, an in-famous Italian porn actress - we get it, naming a cartoon after her would have been tricky for the Italian Disney market. There’s endless examples to be referring to; probably the most famous one is the Italian translation of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: If you leave me, I delete you. Would you have watched that film?! The Alexander Pope verse is completely lost in the translation, maybe because they thought it was too long and frivolous for the Italian audience. And again, Citizen Kane, the masterpiece directed Orson Welles in 1941, is Fourth Estate. The original title referred to the protagonist of the film: Charles Foster Kane; which clearly gets completely lost in the Italian title.
Die Hard, is Crystal trap. Crystal trap, really?!? Die Hard must be the most badass movie titles ever! Yes, it doesn’t make much sense in English either, but just leave it! Walk the line, the Johnny Cash biopic that takes its title from his famous song, is translated When love burns the soul. Great Expectations, the Alfonso Cuarón version of 1998, is translated as Paradise Lost, a famous poem from John Milton, that has not much to do with Charles Dickens. Do not translate Charles Dickens. Ever. Please.
The famous Italian director Federico Fellini was a big fan of John Ford’s Stagecoach. Having seen the film in Italian, Fellini met with Ford and complimented him on the wonderful film: Red Shadows. Yes, Red Shadows is the translation of the title in Italy. What has that to do with Stagecoach?! The story tells that Ford did not understand what Fellini was talking about! Awkward…
Lastly, Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation has been funnily translated as Love Translated — really?!? Seems like the title got lost in translation, quite literally.
Things can get lost in translation, especially when something is translated to a foreign language and then translated back to the original language. Like movie titles.