Movie titles and their translations

I love movies! I’m not a film-goer, someone who really understands the subject, directors and screenwriters, but still I like a good movie.

I consider them great tools to learn a new language. If you also enjoy movies, watch them with audio and subtitles in the language you are learning. It’s a good exercise to learn new vocabulary and practice listening.

Besides getting intrigued by the stories, I am always intrigued about movie title’s translations. At least from English into Portuguese, translations are not always literal. After doing some research I discovered that in fact the titles are not “translated” they are sometimes “recreated”. Usually for business or cultural reasons, so that even movie title translation into Portugal’s Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese are not the same!

An example is the film “Ocean’s Eleven” whose translation into Brazilian Portuguese is “Eleven men and a secret” and to Portugal’s Portuguese is: “Ocean’s Eleven – Place your bets.” In fact, to name the movie “The eleven Ocean” (literal translation into Portuguese) would not make sense, nor would it sound good.

However, sometimes some translations do not do justice to the story. This is the case of the film “Blue Valentine”. The name in Portuguese is “Valentine’s forever,” but the meaning of the English title is something like “Sad Valentine.” Since Valentine is the Saint who takes care of couples and lovers, better known as “St. Anthony” in Brazil. The Portuguese name indicates a “soft” movie, a romantic comedy gender, but if you watched the movie, you know that this is not the case.

If you haven’t seen yet, I give you a little tip-off: this movie ran for an Oscar!

But how does the whole process happen? Who validates the new names? Briefly here is what happens: the films arrive in Brazil, for example, and the team responsible for marketing the film does a study or a simple analysis to verify whether the literal translation can be used. If so, the producer is only notified about the translation. If the film needs a new title, a document is prepared explaining the reasons and significance of the new name. It’s sent to the producer for correction and approval and then it’s done!

Do you know other unusual translations of film titles? Share your stories with us!


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