6 Hilariously Bad Translations of Film Titles to Spanish
The Spanish-speaking world is, of course, a very important market for Hollywood. It's the second most widely spoken language in the world, so the filmmaking industry has to take us into account when it's time to release a movie. Unfortunately, the average Spanish moviegoer knows very little English and what's more, is also very lazy. That's why the film translation sector is huge here: voice acting, advertisements and trailers all have to be done in our language so we can make some goddamn sense of all of it. And for the most part, it's actually very good! Everything works out, the posters are being printed, and then you realize... the title.
Time is running out, and you didn't remember to translate the title! Millions are in play so you have to make a rushed decision and hope it actually relates to the movie in some way or another. Something that will make you feel proud when you see it in big capital letters.
Of course, the guy who's in charge of doing that in Spain won't ever call the guys in Mexico or Argentina so they can agree on something and market it with the same title. If you add that confusion to everyday language incompetence, you end up with these.
1. Die Hard
Title in Spain: Jungla de cristal = The Glass Jungle
Title in Latin America: Duro de matar = Hard to Kill
This one is simply a clusterfuck. First of all, titling it The Glass Jungle makes it very clear that this guy only watched one scene of Bruce Willis blasting some window and decided that "jungle" was the most appropriate word to describe shards of glass fucking everywhere. OK, it's pretty terrible but not that bad.
The problem is, there's already a little-known action B-film about a cop with a grudge called The Glass Jungle. One would think, "oh, they just ripped off the movie and used the Spain title for some reason? Yeah, it has to be that". Nope. It was released in 1988: that is, the same year as Die Hard.
To add insult to injury, Hard to Kill is also the title of another movie, in this case a Steven Seagal film from 1990. We just decided to name that Difícil de matar (Difficult to Kill) and call it a day. If Bruce Willis and Steven Seagal teamed up to avenge this terrible murder of their films, we'd probably call that Slightly Harder to Kill, But Keep Trying You Guys.
Who wins?: Latin America hands down, even though I'm not comfortable with making Steven Seagal angry, since this is what usually happens.
2. There Will Be Blood
Title in Spain: Pozos de ambición = Wells of Ambition
Title in Latin America: Petróleo sangriento = Bloody Oil
Universally known as the ultimate vehicle for Daniel Day-Lewis' particular brand of hammy overacting, There Will Be Blood's title is great because it makes more sense when the movie is over, since a priori there's no way to see how that would be appropriate for a movie about a rich guy and his oil.
The bad thing about Latin America's translation is that it's a thousand times better than the original titlemwhen you translate it back to English. Bloody Oil. Seriously, Paul Thomas Anderson, how didn't you think of that? I'm sure he's kicking himself over it.
Who wins?: Spain's title is absolutely terrible with no redeeming features whatsoever. So this is another easy Latin America pick.
3. The Hurt Locker
Title in Spain: En tierra hostil = In Hostile Land
Title in Mexico: Zona de miedo = Fear Zone
Title in Argentina: Vivir al límite = Live to the Limit
The best case for these horrible mistranslations is when every Spanish-speaking region just does whatever the fuck it wants. None of them have anything to do with each other, and they have to do even less with the original title which, to be honest, is impossible to translate. A more faithful one would be El armario del dolor, which would be The Closet of Pain back in English. I guess if they ever need a title for the XXX gay porn version, that's a good choice.
Wikipedia asserts that Fear Zone is the "literal translation", which shows someone has a terrible understanding of what both those words mean.
Who wins?: Live to the Limit, no question. That's like a cheesy Nike slogan, and thus perfect for a tense film about the Iraq war.
4. The Pacifier
Title in Spain: Un canguro super duro = A Super Tough Kangaroo
Title in Argentina: Niñera a prueba de balas = Bulletproof Nanny
The Pacifier is a masterpiece that certainly didn't deserve this treatment. It's about a Navy SEAL taking care of some kids, and the first of many movies to feature an action star doing sissy things.
Why you so surprised, Rock?
The title, however, is kinda clever. Maybe too clever for such a movie. That's why Spain just stamped the silliest word we could think of onto the translation. "Kangaroo", yeah, why not?
OK, that's not fair, since that's the way we usually refer to nannies colloquially, but isn't it amusing? You know, cause kangaroos carry their babies inside their pouch, and nannies... just have to do with babies in some way. Look, I didn't promise we always made sense.
Who wins?: A Super Tough Kangaroo is something everyone would watch, even if the (hopefully) only precedent is this. I think we're going to take the points this time.
5. Weekend at Bernie's
Title in Spain/Chile: Este muerto está muy vivo = This Dead Guy Is Very Alive
Title in Mexico: Un muerto... pero de risa = A Dead Guy... But It's Funny
Title in Peru: Fin de semana con el muerto = Weekend with the Dead Guy
Title in Argentina: Fin de semana de locura = Crazy Weekend
This has FOUR different titles, and thank god Chile decided to go with ours, because the alternative could only have been something like That Guy... He's Dead! Really! Besides Argentina, whose title is humourless and lame, the other three refer to a dead person with varying amounts of terrible.
Technically a better translation for Mexico's would be A Dead Guy... But He Died of Laughter, which is even more desperate and pointless, so I went with the alternative. That leaves just Spain and Peru still in the fight.
Who wins?: I love Weekend with the Dead Guy, it makes it sound like a chore that they just had to do: "Oh, god, is it that time of the year when we have to hang out with the corpse? OK, let's get this over with".
6. Lost in Translation
Title in Latin America: Perdidos en Tokyo = Lost in Tokyo
Ugh... how did we let you secede?
A huge thanks to 52xMax for his help with this. Don't even think about thumbing it without repping him too, even if he is a filthy Mexican.
• Aziz Ansari Accused of Assaulting Anonymous Admirer
• Is it complicated to say "No" to men?
• Oprah Winfrey for President?
• Things you can say both during sex and at a family dinner