What do you get when you mix a Hollywood movie with the German language and German marketing? Right, you get stupid and silly movie titles whose “inventors” should be ashamed of.
You don’t might believe it, but when a movie from the USA is imported into Germany it most of the time gets a language revamp. Most often the result is average, meaning, you get the original title and its translation as a subtitle (Total Recall – Die totale Erinnerung). Sometimes the result is worse, meaning, you get the original title and a completely new german silly subtitle (Alien – Das unheimliche Wesen aus einer fremden Welt (Alien – The eerie creature from an alien world)). But very often the result can even get worse.
You don’t believe it? Well here is it, the ultimate list in no particular order of the most stupid german movie titles for your englightment:
- Original Title: Airplane!
Original Title in German: Flugzeug!
German Title: Die unglaubliche Reise in einem verrückten Flugzeug
German Title in English: The incredible journey in a crazy airplane
Comment: Ohhhkayyy. Now that is a long title. Don’t ask how they had the idea for such a movie title. On the other hand, it quite well fits the movie.
- Original Title: Return to Me
Original Title in German: Zurück zu mir
German Title: Zurück zu Dir
German Title in English: Return to you
Comment: It seems the one who did the translation had no idea of english.
- Original Title: Dragnet
Original Title in German: Schleppnetz/Stahlnetz
German Title: Schlappe Bullen beißen nicht
German Title in English: Floppy Coppers don’t bite
Comment: In Germany we have the proverb “Bellende Hunde beißen nicht” (His bark is worse than his bite). The german title uses this proverb and in this meaning is quite interesting. Nevertheless it is a wonderful example of how to NOT name a movie.
- Original Title: Once upon a time in the West
Original Title in German: Es war einmal im Westen
German Title: Spiel mir das Lied vom Tod
German Title in English: Play me the Song of Death
Comment: Now this movie title is a big sin. Not only looses the title any mystical feeling to it but in the German version of the movie they had to change some dialogue to justify the title. When in the original version the bad guy says “Keep your loving brother happy” he says…well “Na los, Spiel mir das Lied vom Tod”. Oh Boy!
- Original Title: Soylent Green
Original Title in German: Soylent Green
German Title: Das Jahr 2022. Die überleben wollen
German Title in English: The Year 2022. Those who want to survive
Comment: The orginal title makes absolutely sens since everything revolves around the mysterious Soylent Green everyone is feeded with. In the German version this meaning is totally lost. And moreover the title is simply stupid. (It seems that even the punlisher noticed that because the DVD version from 2003 is called “Soylent Green”. Wohoo. It only took thirty years!)
- Original Title: 3000 Miles to Graceland
Original Title in German: 3000 Kilometer nach Graceland
German Title: Crime is King
German Title in English: …look above
Comment: Don’t ask me why. I don’t know why they replaced an english title with a different english title. It completely eludes me!
- Original Title: Black Eagle
Original Title in German: Schwarzer Adler
German Title: Red Eagle
German Title in English: …look above
Comment: Another example of an english title used in Germany. This time they for no apparent reason changed black to red. The movie itself is already bad though, so no real harm done.
- Original Title: The Pope must die
Original Title in German: Der Papst muss sterben
German Title: Ein Papst zum Küssen
German Title in English: A Pope to kiss
Comment: Another interesting example of how in germany everyone seem to try to spice things up comically
- Original Title: Animal House
Original Title in German: Tiergehege (rough translation)
German Title: Ich glaub’ mich tritt ein Pferd!
German Title in English: I think I’m kicked by a horse!
Comment: Oh boy, oh boy. I am the firston to admit that the original title wouldn’t have made a very good german title. But come on! It seems those guys were on speed, dope, marihuana and much more on the same time.
- Original Title: Forbidden Planet
Original Title in German: Verbotener Planet
German Title: Alarm im Weltram
German Title in English: Alarm in space
Comment: Why didn’t they use a real translation? I think “Verbotener Planet” has a great sound to it. But no, they had to do something completely different. Sigh.
- Original Title: Cellular
Original Title in German: Mobiltelefon (rough translation)
German Title: Final Call – Wenn er auflegt muss sie sterben
German Title in English: Final Call – When he hangs up she has to die
Comment: This is beyond sick and wrong!
- Original Title: What planet are you from
Original Title in German: Von welchem Planeten sind sie
German Title: Good Vibrations – Sex vom anderen Stern
German Title in English: Good Vibrations – Sex from another world (rough/free translation)
Comment: The movie itself is bad enough. The title in this case even helps us to walk away from this one as fast as possible. Thank you, bad “translators”.
These are some examples of bad german movie titles (for sometimes bad movies) we have to endure each and every day. You won’t believe how painful this is when you are a true movie fan.
Oh by the way, the bad titles thing is valid for television, too. Here are two examples:
The series “Mission Impossible” became “Kobra, übernehmen sie” (Kobra, take the job (again, free translation by me)) and the episode “Devil on the dark” from Star Trek became “Hora rettet ihre Kinder” (Hora saves her children). Now this title is so bad it is beyond anything because it spoilers the whole episode. It seems the title guy really had no clue what to use.
On the other hand, it seems that today most of those guys still have no clue what to do with the original material.
[Update: I posted a follow up with new titles for your reading pleasure and corrected some minor issues (wrong spelling and some wrong translations. ]