Last year when I went searching for Monty Python and the Holy Grail at the aptly-named Video Club Camelot here in Necochea, I offered up my best attempt at the title in Spanish and was met with blank stares all around. Not content to give up the quest so easily, I tried two other movie rental stores. I went home empty-handed.
The problem? It turns out that the movie was released as Los caballeros de la mesa cuadrada ["The Knights of the Square Table"] in Argentina. Well, whodathunkit?!
Though movies are frequently given new titles when a direct translation from English would be nonsensical or culturally inappropriate for foreign audiences, inventive translations complicate the usually simple task of renting a movie. To make matters worse, a film's title often differs for Spain and Latin America.
Take the 1980s classic comedy Ferris Bueller's Day Off for example. The film's title was translated three different ways for Spanish-speaking audiences:
Todo en un día ["All in One Day"] – Spain
Un experto en diversión ["An Expert in Fun"] – Argentina/Chile/Colombia/Peru
La escapada de Ferris Bueller ["Ferris Bueller's Escapade"] – Mexico
Of course, it works both ways. The 1997 film Abre los ojos ["Open Your Eyes"] by Spanish director Alejandro Amenábar underwent a Hollywood remake in 2001 and was rechristened with the title Vanilla Sky.
Click here to check out some truly bizarre translations of movie titles.
Tip: Need to know the foreign title of your favorite film? Search for the movie at the oh-so-handy site Internet Movie Database [IMDb] and then scroll down to the "Details" section. Click on the "See more" link next to "Also Known As" and all will be revealed.