The STRANGEST Italian TRANSLATIONS of foreign FILM titles

“Never judge a book by its cover” is often said to encourage looking beyond appearances. But when it comes to cinema, is it okay to judge a film by its title? Certainly, the first impression counts, and it is what encourages us to continue, whether it’s getting to know a person, reading a book, or, in this case, watching a movie. What happens, though, when a film is of foreign origin? How does the translation of the title work? Is it possible to maintain a version close to the original? In this article, we will see some of the most peculiar (and sometimes bizarre) translations of foreign film titles into Italian.

How foreign film titles are translated into Italian

Dead Poets Society – L’attimo fuggente

The original title refers to the protagonists of the film: a group of students/poets who clandestinely gather. In Italian, however, the “society” is placed in the background to give importance to the Latin expression “Carpe diem” (literally “seize the day” but known as “seize the moment“), which means that one must seize each opportunity and be careful not to let them slip away. This concept is recurring in the film, as the teacher urges his students to chase after this fleeting moment so as not to lose it. That’s why this title was chosen: it aims to capture the essence of the film rather than translating the original title.

Home alone – Mamma, ho perso l’aereo

A Christmas classic that all of us have watched at least twice in our lives. The child protagonist, Kevin, misses the plane for his family’s Christmas trip, but no family member notices that, so he finds himself having to confront thieves all by himself because he’s “home alone.” This is what the original American version wanted to emphasize, but the Italian translators had other plans. The title almost sounds like the words of a child calling his mother, warning her about what happened. What do you think? Do you like this choice?

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – Se mi lasci ti cancello

That’s undoubtedly one of the most bizarre translations that we will see in this video. The original title would be, in Italian, “Infinita letizia della mente candida,” a verse by Alexander Pope, but it is completely disregarded in the Italian translation. As a matter of fact, the Italian title has nothing to do with the verse but instead chooses to refer, once again, to the plot of the film. After a breakup, a couple decides to have each other erased from their memories. It is certainly an effective summary of the plot, but is it equally captivating?

The Shawshank Redemption – Le ali della libertà

The Redemption of Shawshank” becomes a real tongue twister for Italians, not all of whom are particularly proficient with foreign words. So it was decided to opt for something easier to pronounce. While the English title puts the spotlight on Shawshank Prison, Italian, on the contrary, focuses on the concept of freedom, a fundamental theme of the film. It is quite evident that Italians prefer to base the title on the film’s plot rather than keeping the original version.

Gone Girl – L’amore bugiardo

Gone Girl” becomes “The Deceptive Love” in this psychological thriller where an apparently perfect couple falls apart. Amy disappears, and Nick is investigated for her murder, but the Italian title spoils us that something is not as it seems and that someone is lying. Also, Italian translators love to include the word “love” to attract an ever-wider audience.

500 days of Summer – 500 giorni insieme

The literal translation, in this case, would have made no sense because the English title plays on the double meaning of the word “Summer,” which means both “estate” and is also the name of the girl on whom the story is centred. The duration of the relationship between the main characters is 500 days, hence the choice to translate it as “500 Days together.” I believe this is the only “reasonable” choice on this list, a choice that I myself would have made if asked to translate this title.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Noi siamo infinito

Even this title is impossible to translate literally; “the wallflower” is called “violacciocca” in Italian. What??? I wasn’t familiar with it either, but it refers to a flower that grows attached to walls (hence “wallflower” in English), but it also hides another meaning… A wallflower can also be a person who listens and observes what is happening around them but doesn’t make noise to express themselves due to shyness, thus remaining somewhat “attached to the wall.” This is the case with Charlie, who will discover the advantages of his own personality throughout the film. The translation refers to the pivotal scene in the film where Charlie declares that at that moment, he and his friends not only feel but are tangibly “infinite.” Oh, these Italians… They love to spoil the film right from the title…

The Hangover – Una notte da leoni

After an epic bachelor party, a group of friends loses their memory and finds themselves reconstructing the previous night through a series of clues. The Italian translation emphasizes this by calling it “una notte da leoni,” meaning a wild night spent in alcohol, celebrations, and craziness. However, the original title focuses on the “hangover,” the day after excessive drinking, and other translations like the Spanish “¿Qué pasó ayer?” (What happened yesterday?) also follow this line. But I must admit that all of them are quite close in meaning.

My own private Idaho – Belli e dannati

Wow! These two titles really have nothing to do with each other! In this case, the Italian version completely eliminates the sense of intimacy and private atmosphere of the original. I must say, the Italian title is almost trivial, consisting of two adjectives that can describe the protagonists: two beautiful and damned individuals.

Lost In Translation – L’amore tradotto

We conclude on a high note with a theme that perfectly sums up what unfortunately often happens translating from one language to another: some pieces get lost in translation. This is exactly what happens here: “Lost in Translation” is changed to “L’amore tradotto” (“Love Translated”), another testimony of the preference of inserting love in titles, in hopes of intriguing the many fans of romantic comedies.

These were some of the weirdest Italian translations of foreign film titles. Now take a look at our video on Italian TV shows!

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