Star Wars: The Last Jedi contributed to one of the latest translation controversies. The translation of its title from English to German and Spanish gave hints about the plot of the movie. The film is called Die Letzen Jedi in German and Los Últimos Jedi in Spanish. As a result, fans know that they are going to see many Jedi on screen next Christmas.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (but exactly how many Jedi?)
How much are the companies willing to alter or not movie titles when translating them to other languages? The last Star Wars film does not give the fans any hint as to whether the story will focus on one last Jedi Knight, or the last Jedi, in its plural sense. Thus, the audience started creating theories about who would The Last Jedi be: Luke? Rey? Well, problem solved, there are going to be multiple Jedi. The title was translated in German and Spanish, to name a few languages, in the plural form. Now, the audience may have more hope (a new hope?) as they know they are going to see many Jedi knights. This is just one example of an upcoming movie that’s revealing a little bit more with its title in another language. Sometimes movie titles are translated for marketing reasons, companies being eager to create new titles that would look more appealing to the audience. They chose new title based on the plots, the effects of a literal translation and hope for the best. Let’s go over a few other movies that had their titles changed.
Flatliners or The Forbidden Experience
There are many reasons for changing titles internationally. One of the most common ones is that the literal meaning of the title may not make sense in the target language. An example of this is the movie Flatliners. The title in French is The Forbidden Experience (L’experience Interdite) whereas in Spanish the film is called Mortal Lines: to the Limit (Líneas Mortales: Al Límite). The idea behind the title change is to emphasize the activities carried out by this group of young people and the literal translation does not show that. In its Spanish counterpart, the title makes reference to death by using the word ‘mortal’, thus highlighting again the danger present in the film. The movie is about a group of medical students who want to explore the territory of near death experiences. Each of them has their heart stopped and is resuscitated. After that, a series of effects take place, including terrible childhood memories. Flatliners was released in the US on September 29, 2017 and it will premiere in Latin America on October 19, 2017.
Insidious: The Last Key or Night of the Demon
Generally, changing the title is a marketing gimmick with the hope of drawing more audience to the theaters. Maybe that’s why they didn’t trust that Insidious, the original name of the fourth chapter of a successful horror movie, was going to be appealing enough for the viewership. They needed to turn Insidious: the Last Key into Night of the Demon. It could be that having the demon itself in the title appeals to more viewers. It makes the movie a must watch before Halloween. Nevertheless, it’s still surprising that they didn’t choose a word with the same latin origin as Spanish insidioso, or even a similar word as malicioso (malicious). Insidious 4, directed by Adam Robitel will be released on October 20, 2017 in the US. It will deal with the story of Parapsychologist Dr. Elise Rainier who is going to face a personal hunting in her own home.
Jigsaw: the Game Continues
Jigsaw deserves a different treatment because the distribution company finally chose to keep the original name and just added ‘The Game Continues’. The reason behind this decision could be that all the movie series was known as The Game of Fear, so chances are the company wanted to keep the word game in the title. Jigsaw is a widely known film series that can now have its own original name as part of the title. This is an example of a movie that did so well, that many people abroad can recognize its English name. The film, directed by Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig will premiere on October 20, 2017 in American theaters. The plot revolves around the mystery of several bodies appearing in the city. All the clues seem to point at Jigsaw, but the man has been dead for more than ten years.
The Foreigner or The Implacable
Finally, Jackie Chan’s upcoming movie The Foreigner was translated to Spanish as The Implacable (El Implacable). The company decided to focus on the relentless nature of Jackie Chan’s character and left behind his outsider nature. However, there’s one thing that is different in this movie title. I looked up for posters in several cinema theaters’ websites and was only able to find the original poster as part of the film information and synopsis. Once online, I watched a trailer for Latin America that named the movie as The Implacable. It seems that the company decided to distribute the poster with the original title, but used a different name when it came to trailers. The Foreigner is about a businessman who loses his daughter in a terrorist attack. After that, he begins a journey to find the killers and bring justice. The film is scheduled for release in the United States on October 13, 2017.
Related: What Makes Game of Thrones a Success
All in all, some movie titles’ translations reveal important information to the audience; others have new titles to appeal to a broader viewership. Sometimes the companies change them completely, to our surprise. For instance, it is interesting to know that some classics like Home Alone and Grease, are known in Latin America as My Poor Little Angel and Vaseline, respectively. The practice of translating names of American blockbusters by changing them has been widely adopted in the world for years. Translation is not easy, as seen by the decision to use the plural form of ‘the last‘ in the latest Star Wars film, thus, giving us viewers hope that we are going to see many Jedi on Christmas.