8 Times That French Movie Translations Got Straight To The Point (but stayed in English)

As we all know, the French language has many merits and for centuries has been widely regarded as a beautiful language.

But for some reason, when it comes to translating the title of a new English language movie, there is a strong tendency in the French film industry to stick to English; but not in the way you would think!

Instead, they create a diluted, more direct version of the title, aiming to reach the French audience with limited English vocabulary but retaining the ‘cool’ feeling of the English. I can only describe it as a ‘translation’ into France-friendly English.

Let me give you a few examples:

  1. The Hangover

Direct translation: La Gueule de Bois

Chosen ‘translation’: Very Bad Trip

Improvement suggestions: The Morning After, Bachelor Party Disaster, Las Vegas Trouble. To be honest, almost ANYTHING else would be better.

2. No Strings Attached

Closest translation: Sans Attaches

Chosen ‘translation’: Sex Friends

Fun Fact: ‘Sex Friends’ is an understood phrase in French to describe friends with ‘benefits’. So you can understand why they chose the title, but it lost all subtlety in doing so.

3. Cruel Intentions

Direct translation: Intentions Cruelles

Chosen ‘translation’: Sexe Intentions

Again, France, where is your subtlety? I know you’re all romantic and everything, but stop giving away the storyline in the title!

4. Step Up

Closest translation: Accélérer le Pas

Chosen ‘translation’: Sexy Dance

Ok. Fine. Just keep on throwing in the word ‘sex’ and hope for the best. It doesn’t improve the title though. Trust me.

5. Date Night

Closest translation: Soirée en Amoureux

Chosen ‘translation’: Crazy Night

Well I guess you can’t complain that it doesn’t describe the film. And at least they’ve managed to avoid using the word ‘sex’ for a romantic movie, so that’s something.

6. The Other Guys

Direct translation: Les Autres Mecs

Chosen ‘translation’: Very Bad Cops

You read ‘The Other Guys’, you think, ‘I wonder what this intriguing title could be referring to, I must watch this film.’ You read ‘Very Bad Cops’, and you just think, ‘oh right, this is a film about terrible policemen. Could be funny I guess’.

7. Cool Runnings

Direct translation: To be fair, this one is untranslatable (Courir Froid? Course Cool? No.)

Chosen ‘translation’: Rasta Rockett

I actually have no issue with this one. It makes the film sound awesome, like Rastafarians in a spaceship.

8. Silver Linings Playbook

Closest translation: Manuel d’Optimisme

Chosen ‘translation’: Happiness Therapy

To the point. The original is perhaps too cryptic (why ‘playbook?’), so maybe the French have the right idea with this one.

BONUS:

There are examples of the same thing happening in reverse, where English speakers wanted to keep the French but without the complexity of understanding French:

The original title of ‘La Vie en Rose’ is actually ‘La Môme’, which roughly means ‘The Kid’, and was an affectionate term for Edith Piaf in France. The rest of the world would not be aware of this, but everyone knows the title of her most popular song!

‘Amélie’ is a title that non-French people enjoy pronouncing in their best French accent. It is simple and short and classy. But the original title is actually ‘Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain’. Good luck pronouncing it now.

What do you think of these title choices? Can you think of better titles for these films?

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See original blog here: http://europelanguagecafe.com/2016/02/22/8-times-that-french-movie-translations-got-straight-to-the-point-but-stayed-in-english/


Originally published at europelanguagecafe.com on February 22, 2016.