Friday, October 7, 2011

Francophile Friday: franglish movie titles

It should come as no surprise to those familiar with my overenthusiastic photo-taking paired with lazy blogging that I have a lot of un-blogged material still on my computer from Paris. I have therefore decided to steal an idea from fellow blogger and smcm alum Morgan over at la Chapstick Fanatique and institute Francophile Fridays! Ooh-la-la!

Today's topic are ridiculous French movie titles. And by this, I don't mean titles of French movies but the French titles of American movies. There is a bizarre and inexplicable tendency in recent French cinema to re-title American blockbusters. At first, this may seem to be perfectly understandable behavior--after all, "Retour au futur" would make more sense to a French audience than "Back to the Future," just as "La Guerre des ├ętoiles," while less catchy, is at least more readily understood than "Star Wars." However, the trend I'm referring to is not a translation of English titles into French, but rather a translation of English titles into different English titles, and usually with a very poor usage of English.

Take into consideration my first example, Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher's trashy "Friends with Benefts." The French version does away with polite euphemisms and cuts right to the sexy chase:

Had the marketers decided to translate the title, one of the equally vulgar options to describe this sort of relationship that would have been available to them is "plan cul," or "ass plan" (as in "I'm going to get some ass tonight"). Ahh, the language of love.

Next up, the college frat boy smash hit, the Hangover, whose French title manages to evoke both the physical and psychedelic journeys in the movie but whose clunky English still sounds like an elderly Chinese man's description of the movie ("dey took a velly bad tlip!")

Now it's time for Date Night with Steve Carell and Tina Fey:
In this case, I'd say that dropping "date" from the tile is due to the fact that it can be a false cognate in French (it translates in the scheduling sense of 'today's date' but not in the romantic sense. But crazy night? Granted they look a bit disheveled, but really?

Nicolas Cage's ever-popular National Treasure films didn't become Tr├ęsor national but instead took its cue from the protagonist's rather humdrum name. If it weren't for the intense font, this could easily be the story of, say, an accountant:
Last but not least, here's my personal favorite, because my first semester in Nice, France a few years ago featured a huge, wall-sized poster in our university cafeteria advertising the original, which is the story of a high school step team, and in English, goes by the title "Step Up" 

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