The Spanish Language Blog

If you are a film lover who enjoys watching foreign films, you may have realized by now that movie titles change a lot when translated into another language. Spanish speakers know that very well, because movie titles are usually transformed into something completely different compared to the original version.

Keep on reading to find out the reason behind this metamorphosis and have a laugh with some of the seventh art’s funniest translations. If you prefer to read this post in Spanish, click here. Lights, camera, action!

Mistranslation or localization?

When a new movie is released, many viewers criticize its title’s translation. However, we don’t usually ask ourselves why it changed so much. In don Quijote we want to stand up for translators, because this lack of textual coincidence with the original title is not always due to mistranslation.

Professionals who are in charge of the translation need to adapt to the culture and the market where the movie is going to be distributed. As it occurs with brands, when thinking about a title, translating is not enough – copyright, cultural issues, and more need to be considered as well. However, that doesn’t mean that those little marketing experiments don’t end up giving us very funny titles every now and then.

One language, several titles

Did you know there are several Spanish versions for the same foreign movie? Due to the richness of the Spanish language, producers order several dubbed versions for Spain and Latin America. As a consequence, movie titles are also different in each Spanish-speaking country.

Watching movies and series in Spanish is one of the best ways to practice the language. However, having such different titles, sometimes it is hard to find out the name of that film you’ve been wanting to watch. Here’s a trick for all Spanish students: Internet Movie Database is a website which hosts information about thousands of movies. Among other things, it lists the title of a movie in each country.

Movie titles in Spanish

Let’s get down to business. Here are some of the funniest movie titles in Spanish. Some of the titles we have chosen for this post belong to the Spanish version of the movie and some other to the Latin American versions. Enjoy!

1. The Sound of Music is… Sonrisas y lágrimas (Smiles and Tears)

This popular Broadway drama film tops our list for obvious reasons. The literal translation would be ‘El sonido de la música’, but ‘Smiles and Tears’ sounds equally beautiful, right? Fun fact: in Latin America, this movie was called La novicia rebelde (The Reckless Nun). 

2. Home Alone is… Mi pobre angelito (My Poor Little Angel)

Although in Spain they kept the title as ‘Solo en casa’, in Latin America they chose something more emotional: ‘My Poor Little Angel’. Truth is, the face of the little Macaulay Culkin is sweet as sugar.

3. Die Hard is… La jungla de cristal (Glass Jungle)

Ok, got it. There is a huge difference between ‘Die Hard’ and ‘Glass Jungle’. But the first option doesn’t sound very appealing in Spanish: ‘muere fuertemente’. Long life to free translation! In Latin America they got a little bit closer to the original title and named this movie ‘Duro de matar’.

4. 101 Dalmatians is… La noche de las narices frías (The Night of the Cold Noses)

Spain and Latin America never come to an agreement. While in Europe they kept the translation as ‘101 dálmatas’, across the pond they let their imagination run free with this funny title. Like it or not, this title describes the movie’s protagonists.

These are just some examples among plenty of funny titles you can find all over the Internet. Hope this post encouraged you to get hands on Spanish through cinema. In case you didn’t know, don Quijote’s web shows how much an average cinema ticket costs in each of our destinations in Spain. Start planning your trip and enjoy your movies in Spanish!

Learn more about the movies above by watching this video.

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