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COMPASS MAGAZINE, March 1999. VOL. 6 ISSUE 3

Movie Titles

by Mia Shanley

Hollywood often deems itself the end-all of everything. People in tinseltown are flawless, see -- or so they think so. I will begin this column with a disclaimer: I am not a fan of Hollywood. In fact, I believe that some of the world's most obnoxious people reside in the city of dreams where, I believe, the population of restaurant waiters waiting for callbacks outnumbers actual working actors.

But those who manage to make it to the big leagues -- be it with acting, writing or directing talents -- usually make a very pretty penny. A student graduating from my university's film program sold his senior thesis -- an action-packed script -- to the Hollywood gods for one million dollars. He also got a very large gold plaque placed on the wall of the communications department bearing his name and I assume that he paid off his student loans the year he received his diploma.

Fact is, people in Hollywood make good money to use their creative energies. Hollywood pays teams of people big dollars to research the "effectiveness" of every movie title that hits the screen. Hours of work are put in to those one, two, three or four words which are scripted to steal the hearts of audiences worldwide. Good movie titles can bring box offices big money.

What horror those teams, those executives, those actors would have if they took a walk through a Blockbuster in Taiwan and saw what their golden titles had been translated into. It's the same thing that happens when a 6.0 document gets flushed through Notepad and returns, or worse, when Big 5 Chinese touches English Windows and makes a trip back to its point of origin.

ocuments of text transform mysteriously to Greek. Movie titles, when they leave Hollywood and hit the screens in Asia, often make such transformations.

The New York Times recently reported that in Beijing, the movie "Babe" had been translated to "The Happy Dumpling-To-Be Who Talks and Solves Agricultural Problems." It then reported that "Batman and Robin" had been twisted to "Come to My Cave and Wear this Rubber Codpiece, Cute Boy."
The Times eventually ran a correction, saying that it had mistakenly quoted fake titles from a humor website. Though false information had been provided, the report was inspiration enough for me to hit the local Taichung Blockbuster with a Chinese friend to see what English titles flushed through Chinese and back to English had become.

Most names remained the same. Hercules, Cinderella and Bambi kept their own names. The Titanic stayed the Titanic and Casper remained the friendly ghost. Here are just a few approximations of what I saw. Keep in mind that these make much more sense in Chinese than they do as they are flushed back to the English language.

Contact Rich in the Future
Eraser Satan Destroys Everything
Jerry Maguire Success in Love
Good Will Hunting Inside Your Heart
Parent Trap The Best Couple
Mr. Magoo Mr. Crazy/Mr. Clumsy
Sliding Doors Two-faced lovers
Deep Impact A Planet Will Hit the Earth
Armageddon The End of the World
City of Angels Ex-Lovers
Money Train Silver Stone
Face Off Change Faces
Flipper Flying Baby
Free Willy A Very Powerful Whale Runs to Heaven
GI Jane Satan Female Soldier
My Best Friend's Wedding The Bride is not Me
Risky Business Just Send Him to University Unqualified

And finally, I checked out the pig movie, just for the record. The real translation of "Babe" turned out to be "I'm Not Stupid So I Have Something to Say."

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