Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fun with Titles = Cosas que no tienen sentido

Last night I went out to see Agua Para Elefantes, or Water for Elephants, in theaters with my host sister. (Yes, yes, I'm sure it came out ages ago in the states.) I give the movie itself an "enjoyable but not very original" rating. It was adapted from a book, which I haven't read, but even so I kept thinking, "That probably made more sense on paper."

But here's something refreshing about the movie: The title in Spanish is a direct translation from the title in English!

What a concept.

No one seems to know why, but movies constantly change titles when making the switch to the Spanish-speaking world. (Probably the non English-speaking world over. Can anyone else speak to that?)

Some confusing ones I've run across:

Big Momma: Like Father Like Son = Mi abuela es un peligro or My Grandma is a Danger. Clearly, there was no attempt here to even get the idea of the original title. Is the grandma in this movie really a danger? Make it a little more literal for me, please. (I would like to go on record as having not watched this movie or any of its predecessors. You can't see, so I'll tell you that I'm wearing my disdainful look mixed with my snooty look right now.)

Sunset Boulevard = Crepusculo de los dioses or Twilight of the Gods.

I think here they must be trying to make the metaphor the original street name is driving at a little more obvious. Did they think that no one else could figure it out or something?

I Spit on Your Grave = Dulce venganza or Sweet Revenge

Maybe spitting on someone's grave doesn't have the same meaning in some Latin American countries? P.S. This movie looks absolutely traumatizing. I'm beside myself to come up with a reason that anyone would want to see it.

The Kids Are All Right = Los ninos tienen la razon or The Kids Are Right.

Not exactly the same. Actually, not at all the same. To be fair, I only saw this title on some pirated DVDs. It's possible that it actually premiered here as Los ninos estan bien, the direct translation, as I've found on some internet sites.

The Joneses = Amor por contrato or Love for Hire.

Granted, given the plot of this movie, the family's last name is referring to the saying "keeping up with the Joneses." But even if they couldn't bear for the title to be a plain old last name for Spanish-speakers, could they at least make it something that was not a spoiler? Even IMBD doesn't tell you as much as this title does! (And now I did...whoops.)

Who makes these decisions anyway? And what the heck are their thought processes?

There must be thought processes, right?

P.S. Fun with Titles = Cosas que no tienen sentido or Things that don't make sense

Sorry about the spacing. Firefox doesn't believe I am who I say I am, and internet explorer apparently has a very stubborn streak about ample white noise between reflect, as it were.


  1. My spacing did that to me too. I spent 15 minutes trying to fix it and then got angry and gave up.
    Anywho, to the main topic: My friend watched that movie. Alone. Because I refused to go with her because I'm anit-love-story movies, and because I was working but that irrevent.
    That's weird (with the titles), they shouldn't both translating them if they're not going to do it correctly (they may do it correctly, I wouldn't know).

    On that note: Never use Google Translate. It's evil.

  2. Ahha! Just go the hang of your new comment box. Phew, that took me a while...

  3. This used to make me laugh in Peru... now it annoys me in Canada because I have no idea what movies I've seen or not. It's ridiculous! Finally a movie translated right. I mean honestly.... sometimes the title was totally translatable, but they just don't do it.

    But it might just be Spanish... well French doesn't have that problem... at least not in my experience. Who knows what's wrong with Spanish.

  4. My spacing does that too! Then I go fiddle with the html code and bad things usually happen.

    Anyway, I've seen weird movie titles too, although a couple have been alright. Thank goodness they managed Le Conciert to El Concierto. The King's Speech went to El Discurso del Rey, good work there. But Nowhere Boy turned into Mi nombre es John Lennon, didn't even try to recreate anything creative there.

  5. Your decision to skip "I Spit on Your Grave" was a good one. It made me want to puke and then give my frontal lobe a scrub with a Brillo pad. Uck.

    I would go see a movie called "My Grandma is a Danger" vs. one titled "Big Mama". It's great how things get lost in translation.

  6. Okay, so you probably read my P.S and thought I was retarded because shortly after reading your post I realised that you've had the same comment box and it was my technological noob-ness that un-enabled me to comment until I hassled with it...