Mistranslations have provided the world (literally) with humour for many years now. From wry grins to belly laughs so big that Michael Bay has made film about them, we’ve all enjoyed a good scoff at a translator’s expense. Luckily for us, this applies to movie titles too and we’ve picked our favourites.
‘The Dark Knight’ became ‘The Knight of the Night’
Spanish title ‘El Caballero de la Noche’ - while accurate - becomes a bit confusing when re-translated back into English. We do love an unplanned title pun…
[Related gallery: The weirdest international movie posters]
[Related gallery: Movie poster mistakes]
‘Grease’ became ‘Vaseline’
The Argentineans turned an iconic musical movie into a popular brand of petroleum jelly. With the Spanish translation of grease being ‘grasa’ we can’t quite work out how they plumped for the alternate title.
‘Knocked Up’ became ‘Slightly Pregnant’
Seth Rogan and Katherine Heigl’s hilarious comedy just got funnier! The film about an accidental pregnancy (what’s not to laugh at there?) has enjoyed a number of silly foreign titles. Peru’s Latin American translation ‘Slightly Pregnant’ is odd, but special mention must also go to China’s ‘One Night, Big Belly’ and Israeli moniker ‘The Date That Screwed Me’.
‘Lost in Translation’ became ‘Meetings and Failures in Meetings’
A possibly apocryphal example from Portugal here (though plenty of blogs insist this did happen). It’s included here because we dearly hope that that the title for Bill Murray and Scarlet Johansson’s ‘Lost In Translation’ was indeed… lost in translation.
‘Die Hard’ became ‘Die Slowly’
The German title of action-packed ‘Die Hard’ took on a totally different meaning. In their version (‘Stirb Langsam’) Bruce Willis’ John McClane is seemingly doomed to an agonising death at the hands ‘European’ (blatantly German) terrorists.
‘Army of Darkness’ became ‘Captain Supermarket’
A classic here. This blisteringly odd translation of classic horror flick ‘Army of Darkness’ goes some way to explaining this movie poster. The Japanese renamed the film ‘Kyaputien supamaketto’ - or ‘Captain Supermarket’- because Ash (Bruce Campbell) worked in one, apparently. Notice how he’s standing on cans of Bruce Campbell Soup.
‘The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!’ became ‘The Gun Died Laughing’
This Chinese translation suggests Leslie Nielson’s ace cop comedy was so funny the titular gun in the movie literally died of laughter. Perhaps bureaucrats were concerned by the use of ‘naked’ in the title.
‘Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory’ became ‘The Boy That Drowned in Chocolate Sauce’
As far as we remember, chubby Augusts Gloop didn’t actually drown when he fell into a river of chocolate early on in the movie. That’s what the rather dark Danish title suggests though.
‘As Good as It Gets’ became ‘Mr. Cat Poop’
We didn’t believe this one either. The title of ‘As Good As It Gets’ was oddly translated as ‘Mr. Cat Poop’ in Hong Kong. According to imdb it came from the name ‘Melvin’ (Jack Nicholson’s character) which sounds a lot like the Cantonese colloquial word for cat poop. We hope this is true.
Honourable mention - ‘I, Robot’ became ‘Yo, Robot’
Obviously in Spanish, ‘yo’ does indeed mean ‘I’, but this painfully ‘street’ translation still forced a little chortle from us.