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:

  1. 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.
    Airplane
  2. 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.Return to me
  3. 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.
    Dragnet
  4. 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!Once upon a time in the west
  5. 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!)
    Soylent Green
  6. 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!
    3000 Miles to Graceland
  7. 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.
  8. 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
  9. 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.Animal House
  10. 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.
    Forbidden Planet
  11. 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!
    Cellular
  12. 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”.
    What planet are you from

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. ]

Comments

  • CR

    Danke.
    Endlich spricht mir mal jemand aus der Seele.

    Thank You.
    Somene is finally sayin what had to be said !

  • Idetrorce

    very interesting, but I don’t agree with you
    Idetrorce

  • Well, I thought Hungarian titles were stupid, but German titles rule them all! :D DDDDDD

  • Jim Perry

    You will also find that “The Pope Must Die” is altered in the States to read “The Pope must Die-T” where the T looks painted on at the end of the word. Unbelievable.

  • In the final scene of Once Upon a Time in the West, when Charles Bronson puts the harmonica into Henry Fonda’s mouth in the original version, there is no speaking, the camera just displays Henry Fonda, who then remembers the long forgotten event and dies.
    In the german version, during the displaying of Henry Fonda with the harmonica in his mouth, the german voice of Charles Bronson says from the off “play me the song of the death”.
    This is a major fraud!

    great collection by the way.
    cheers.

  • Christian

    In Soylent Green, when Heston discovers the letter E.G.Robinson wrote it reads Thorn, I am going home.
    The German dub translates it from off Thorn Ich lasse mich einschläfern (I’ll let me put to sleep).
    In Die Hard the terrorists who are germans are given Spanish and other foreign names, so they are not bad german villains in the Film. It becomes very confusing when in a scene, Bruce Willis writes their real german names on his Arm ( Hans instead Jack Gruber and so on)!

  • John

    Thanks! This is great. My favorite is “Der Ritter der Kokosnuß”, but there are so many bad ones to choose from.

    Danke! Mein lieblings ist “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”. Es gibt aber auch viele die stimmen.

    • Gunther Heinrich

      Hmmm, “Ritter der Kokosnuss” / “Knights of the Coconut” might be ridiculous but it’s also very fitting for a crazy Monty Python feature movie. It’s one of the rare occasions where I can live with the stupid German version.

  • Mathieu

    I live in Canada and the French title for Airplane! is “Y-a-t-il un pilote dans l’avion?”, which translates as “Is there a pilot in the plane?”

  • Movie Fan

    my favourite one is : “Miss Congeniality” -> “Miss Undercover”

    I understand the assumption that most part of a german audience does not know the word “congeniality” and does not get the “miss-” pun, and that on the other hand, almost everyone understands “undercover”,

    but its still pathetic -.-

  • Frank

    My (worst) favourite is the movie “Taken” with Liam Neeson. In german the movie is called “96 hours” – probably to avoid confusion with the TV-show “Taken” by Steven Spielberg.

    When i heard, “Taken 2″ was coming out, i could already picture the movie posters: “96 hours 2″ or “Again 96 hours”…. i cringed hard…

    They probably realised, what a bad idea renaming the movie was in the first place and went for “96 Hours – Taken 2″ ^^

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  • I can’t believe you jot down everything about this German movies with weird titles and long meanings. :D I don’t know how many times I read this post and I’ve been laughing so hard that I can’t control. :D

  • uwe

    Danke für die Liste. War genau was ich gesucht hatte. Dann geb ich mal meinen “Liebling” zum Besten. (Auch wenn der Film grottenschlecht war).
    Original-Titel: Eight legged Freaks. Deutscher Titel: Arac Attack. Auf IMDB steht noch Angriff der achtbeinigen Monster als Zusatz allerdings kann ich mich nicht daran erinnern das damals auf dem Filmplakat gesehen zu haben. Vielleicht wurde das damals noch irgendwie beim VHS/DVD Start mit angehängt weil es dann doch *zu* peinlich war

  • synthesaurus

    Oh, you missed many, maaany other painfully stupid translations. “Die Hard” means “never giving up”, which would translate as “niemals aufgeben”. They translated that with “Stirb langsam”, which means “die slowly”. How stupid is that? And don’t get me started on “the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”! You know what they did with that? Get this: “Zwei glorreiche Halunken”. That translates as “Two Glorious Crooks”! They just LEFT OUT one of the main characters in the title! And DON’T EVEN get me started on all those japanse Godzilla movies which have “Frankenstein” in the title! *gettn hysterical* ;)

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