“Vertigo”, the Hitchcock masterpiece with James Stuart and Kim Novak, had its title translated as “A Mulher que Viveu Duas Vezes” (The Woman that Lived Twice) in Portugal – a massive, humongous spoiler. Also, I heard more than once that Portuguese christened “Psycho”, another Hitchcock’s, as “O Assassino era a Mãe” (The Killer was the Mother), an even worse spoiler, but I suspect this one is pure urban legend.
Ah, the bizarre mistranslations cinephiles have to endure! These are my two favorites:
- At some point, in the Spanish version o “Pixote”, the 1980s Brazilian classic about homeless kids, someone says that one of the children’s mom lives “en la sombrereria” (a literal translation of “na casa do chapéu“, an expression that means “really, really far away” in Portuguese). So, the translator understood that the lady lived in a hat shop. Later, in the same movie, a transvestite boy asks the main character if he thinks they might have a better future. In the original, Pixote says, no, we are doomed, while in the subtitles he says something like: “sure, Lilica, I am sure we will have a bright future”. This one was certainly a volontary mistranslation that intended to give the scene a more cheerful tone.
- In the Brazilian translation of “Au Revoir les Enfants”, by Louis Malle, a war story where a Jewish boy hides in a French boarding school, another kid offers him a ham sandwich which the Jewish boy refuses. “Jambon” (ham in French) was translated as “geléia” (jam), destroying the logic of the scene.
- “Meet the Spartans” – “Espartalhões” (untranslatable. It is a crossing of Spartans and goofy)
- “Teen Wolf” – “O Garoto do Futuro” (The Future Boy). The explanation: the title is a reference to the movie that made famous to this film’s main actor, Michael J. Fox”The Time Traveler´s Wife” – “Te Amarei para Sempre” (I will love you forever)
- “Epic Movie” – “Deu a Louca em Hollywood” (Hollywood got crazy)
- “Valentine´s Day” – “Idas e Vindas do Amor” (something like “the ups and downs of love”)
- “Annie Hall” – “Noivo Neurótico, Noiva Nervosa” (Neurotic Bridegroom, Nervous Bride)
- “Down by Law” (1986) – “Daunbailó”. A creative but controversial translation. Of course, Daunbailó means nothing in Portuguese.
- “The Godfather” – “O Poderoso Chefão” (Powerful Big Boss)
- “Cast Away” (2000) – “Náufrago” (Shipwrecked). This is a particularly incorrect one. Tom Hank’s plane crashes in a desert island. There is no ship involved.
- “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” – “Pagando bem, que mal tem?”. (If it pays good money, no problem)
- “Ugly Duckling and Me!” (2006) – “Putz! A Coisa tá Feia” (Darn! Things are Ugly). Oh Lord, this is a really dramatic one. It uses a 70s slang (Putz), that nobody under 40 would even know.
- “27 Dresses” – “Vestida para Casar” (Dressed to Marry, which, in Portuguese, rhymes with Dressed to Kill)
Any other suggestions?