Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Something's Lost in Translation How Movies Get Those Funny New Titles Overseas

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Something's Lost in Translation How Movies Get Those Funny New Titles Overseas

Article excerpt

ANYONE vacationing in Europe this summer might be surprised at all the unfamiliar movies playing there: Sally Field in "The Next Victim." Winona Ryder in "The Years of Remembrance." Susan Sarandon in "The Last Walk."

In America these films are known, respectively, as "Eye for an Eye," "How To Make an American Quilt" and "Dead Man Walking." But Europeans don't know from American quilts, and "Dead Man Walking," translated into another language, sounds like a zombie picture. As for "Eye for an Eye," who knows why the title was changed? Too biblical, perhaps.

Across the Atlantic, the titles of American films are changed all the time. "It's rare you will have a literal translation of the title," says Steve Klain, who heads foreign marketing for Miramax.

The reasons are none too surprising. "Some idiomatic phrases don't translate literally, so they try to find an equivalent," says John De Simio, senior vice president of publicity at Castle Rock.

The title of the American movie we know as "City Slickers" was untranslatable - so in Europe it played under the title "Life, Love and a Cow." Preferably, not a mad cow. "Dracula, Dead and Loving It," was loosely translated into Italian as "Dracula, Dead and Pleased" and into French as "Dracula, Dead and Happier Than Ever," which might even be an improvement.

"Mighty Aphrodite" played in France under the title "Maudite Aphrodite," which means "Damned Aphrodite." But at least, as in the American title, the words rhyme. In other European countries the film is known as "The Goddess of Love."

In some cases, perfectly translatable titles just don't have the same lure in another culture.

"Titles are meant to entice viewers," says De Simio. So the Rebecca De Mornay film "Never Talk to Strangers" became "Never With a Stranger" in Europe. And "Heat" became "The Challenge."

Americans thought of Cindy Crawford as "Fair Game." But Italians preferred to think of her as "Easy Prey." Surprisingly, "Fargo," which takes place neither in Fargo nor North Dakota, retained its title in Europe. So did "The Usual Suspects," whose title derives from a remark Claude Rains makes in "Casablanca. …

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