Sunday, 13 May 2012

The Worst Spanish Movie Title Translations In The World…Ever

There is nothing like and extremely niche blog subject to guarantee no one ever will bother to read it.  Inspired by my travels around Latin America where I started to notice some very odd film titles on well known films I decided to put together a few of my favourites.

The reasons for these linguistic oddities are obvious.  Some titles just do not translate well, their subtly and double meaning lost in translation like Dandelion seeds on a gusty day. As a result distributors need to improvise and cater to movie tastes that may be less sophisticated than those in the established English speaking countries.  Hence much word based hilarity when the titles are translated back into their native English.  Those kraazeee latinos!

Film: Die Hard

Spanish Title: Jungla de Cristal

Translation: The Crystal Jungle

The movie poster promises forty floors of action and adventure. Not sure how much action occurred on floor 12 of the Nakatomi Plaza as the bulk of the action centred on the lobby "Do you think you really have a chance against us, Mr Cowboy?" and the roof " Figure we take out the terrorists. Lose twenty, twenty-five percent of the hostages, tops. I can live with that."

Not a completely off the wall translation as John McLane’s shimmying down elevator cables and treading barefoot on shattered windows does give the illusion of Willis racing around a steel and glass jungle.

Film: Ferris Beuller’s Day Off

Spanish Title: Todo En Un Dia (O Como Montarselo Bien)

Translation: Everything In A Day (Or How To Have A Good Time)

 I like this one.  There is something quite innocent and charming about this translation.  Ferris does indeed get up to a lot of mischief during his day playing hookey including stealing a Ferrari 250GT, watching a Cubs game and riding a parade float. 

When I bunked of school that one time the most I got up to was a kickabout in a local park.  We only all got caught because there was a fire alarm and a register was taken.  My Dad was surprisingly sanguine about he whole affair. But I digress.

Film High Plains Drifter

Spansih Title: Infierno de Cobardes

Translation: A Coward’s Hell

 Not such a odd translation as the dusty mining town of Lago is painted red and rechristened “Hell” at the behest of Eastwood’s mysterious stranger in this top notch Western. He takes advantage of its townsfolk who offer him anything he wants to protect them from a marauding gang of outlaws. 

They soon show themselves to be backstabbing, lily-livered varmints who crumble at the force of a few gunslingers as soon as Eastwood isn’t there to protect them.

Barber:"What did you say your name was again?"
Eastwood: "I didn't!"

Film: The Adjustment Bureau

Spanish Title: Destino Oculto

Translation: Hidden Destination

Based on the Philip K Dick short story The Adjustment Team about a shadowy Big Brother type organisation which “adjusts” peoples lives to fit a nebulous grand plan. Think Men in Black meets 1984, Matt Damon plays the put on David Norris who tries to take it to “The Man” with mixed results. The spanish strapline is

"They stole his future, Now he wants it back"

This is a piss poor translation as they barely seem to have bothered choosing anything relevant to the film.  Could the hidden destinations referto the secret doors the Bureau use to zip between locations?

They may as well have called it “You Are Nothing But Puppets!”

Film: Sideways

Spanish Title: Entre Copas

Translation: Inbetween Drinks

Paul Giamatti has a mid life crisis, gets depressed and drinks lots of wine in this whip-smart indie flick.  Seeing as he spends a lot of time visiting Santa Barbara’s vineyards this is quite an appropriate title and perhaps an allegory to the state of Giamatti’s life that is slipping by between glasses of Pinot Noir.

Film:True Grit

Spanish Title El Valor de Ley

Translation: The Benefit of Law

A rather bland but apt translation as Haillee Steinfeld gets both a US Marshall (the taciturn Jeff Bridges) and a Texas Ranger (arrogant Matt Damon) on her side as she tracks her father’s murderer in this better-than-the-original remake.

Seeing as the Cogburn saves her ass at the end, the benefit of law in this case is quite a considerable one. Spanish strapline:
"The punishment always arrives"

Film: Inception

Spanish Title: El Origen

Translation: The Origin

Your mind is the scene of the crime claims the poster. Interesting that the translator stays true to the cryptic nature of the film with another cryptic title obliquely referencing the fact that viewers will have trouble establishing which reality they are witnessing as DiCaprio’s travels deeper into his subconscious.

Film: Knocked Up

Spanish Title: Ligeramente Embarazada

Translation: Lightly Pregnant

Taking the joke that you can’t be a lapsed virgin or a casual suicide bomber to its logical conclusion this is a fairly decent effort and shows even Latinos have a sense of humour. Viewers are asked to be generous with their artistic licence and believe that afro-haired fat-body Seth Rogen realistically would have a cat in hells chance of impregnating the beautiful Katherine Heigl. 

Sadly the distributors opted not to go for  ”La Concepcion Improbable.”

Film: Get Him To The Greek

Spanish Title: Todo Sobre Mi Desmadre

Translation: All About My Mess

The “mess” in question refers to the wild ride of drug taking & groupie shagging partaken by egotistical rock star Aldous Huxley (played with unerring conviction by Russell Brand).  The “Greek” in the title refers to the theatre Huxley is playing in his comeback show.

Film-makers should follow this simple equation: Stupid title in English = bland title in Spanish


  1. Actually "Valor de ley" is a good translation for "True grit". "De ley" means that something is true ("Oro de ley", for example, means pure gold). And valor is the same as courage. So, "Valor de ley" means exactly the same as "True grit".

  2. Cosmocine, El mayor portal para ver Peliculas y estrenos de cine online,Ultimos Estrenos Cosmocine Online Gratis, Videos y Descargas en sin limites. Estrenos de Cine en calidad Hd audio y subtítulos sin cortes 100% completas