Title Translations

Translating creative works is no small feat.  By far the most difficult are translations of poems but some masterpieces of prose can be just as challenging.  The task is not as crucial in case of movies, but, having just spent the past week watching English-language movies with Polish voice-overs, I can see that movie translations are given much less thought (likely due to lesser budget) because a lot gets lost in translation.

One thing in movie translations that I have been fairly impressed by are movie title translations.  Movie titles are similar to book titles but I feel that there's a lot less pressure to maintain a literal translation; the translator can allow him(her)self more creative input.

There are some good translations; a classic horror movie "The Lawnmower Man" has been translated in Polish into what literally means "The Mind Mower" which I think is a far better title.  "Alien" was given a curious alternate version "Alien: the 8th Passenger of Nostromo" which I think is a perfect teaser (unlike the many video teasers these days that make the movie no longer worth watching).  "Finding Neverland" became "A Dreamer" which is an aesthetically-pleasing sound to it in Polish.  "Goodfellas" has a great translation (the literal "Boys from a gang" doesn't do it justice though).  "Catch 22" is translated into "Paragraph no. 22" which is a good save.  "Birdy" becomes a Polish word Ptasiek which is a made-up (nonexistent) diminutive of "Bird".

Sometimes movie translations lose some of their magic because the literal translation doesn't make much sense and the translator decides to play it safe; and so "Million Dollar Baby" was translated into "At All Costs" and "Cinderella Man" became "The Man from the Ring".

I've seen, of course, some bad translations.  "Crank" was translated into "Adrenaline" which is unfortunate because "Crank 2" has very little to do with adrenaline and the translation forced the sequel's name.  "Slumdog Millionaire" was translated into "Slumdog. Millionaire from the street" which is a terrible name because "slumdog" was just inserted literally (there is no such word in Polish) and why would titles consist of two sentences anyway?  "American History X" was translated into "A Prisoner of Hate".  "Bowling for Columbine" became "Playing with guns".  Sometimes titles are translated literally which sounds fine in English but terrible in Polish (for example, "Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street" was translated word by word).

I encourage you to look through imdb and reading some "alternate" (in other languages) titles given to movies.