Sunday, October 30, 2011

Local Cinema: Being Lost In Translation

*this particular post has a very localised (Malaysian) content

If you've ever seen the movie Lost In Translation [2003], you'll be familiar with a particular scene that I loved. It has Bill Murray's character (Bob) is in the midst of filming a commercial in Japan and the following conversation happens:

Director [in Japanese, to the interpreter]: "The translation is very important, O.K? The Translation."
Interpreter [in Japanese, to the director]: "Yes, of course. I understand."
Director [in Japanese, to Bob (Bill Murray)]: "Mr. Bob, you are sitting quietly in your study. And there is a bottle of Suntory whisky on top of the table. You understand right? With wholehearted feeling, slowly, look at the camera, tenderly, and as if you were meeting old friends, say the words! As if you are Bogie in 'Casablanca', saying 'Cheers to you guys'- Suntory Time!"
Interpreter [in English, to Bob]: "He wants you to turn, look at the camera. O.K?"
Bob [to the interpreter]: ".... that's all he said??"

That scene above perfectly demonstrates how much things are lost during a translation. Especially during a very poor translation. The effects of second hand information I believe.

Now this brings me to a related topic which is the translation of English movie titles to Bahasa Malaysia. Take for example this poster of Paranormal Activity 3 [2011] that I came across in a local newspaper. Forgive the poor quality of the photo for I have very shaky hands. Thank God I didn't end up as a surgeon like my parents wanted me to become all those years ago. ;P. Just click on it for a larger view. The second photo is for the movie Scent Of A Woman [1992] which I found on Arkib Negara X.

"Padah Amalan Pusaka"? Seriously? "Mengharungi Alam Dewasa"? Are you kidding me? How the hell did they come up with that? This made me think of the other ridiculous movie translations I've encountered throughout the years. The Day After Tomorrow [2004] was hilariously converted into "Lusa", The Incredibles [2004] miraculously became "Canggih", and Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship Of The Ring [2001] went on such a tangent it become something like "Himpunan... [something]... [something]... Sakti". Yeah, I can't remember the exact translation for that last one, but rest assured it was pretty darn absurd. There were plenty more that were so silly I can't even bare to remember them (anyone remember the translation for Quantum Of Solace [2008]?). It also works the other way around as local movie "Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa" was distributed in the U.K as "Clash Of Empires: Battle For Asia".

Oh, while we're on the topic of Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa, anybody notice the slot/advertisement in the cinema from Yusry, the movie's producer. It is usually shown after the multiple movie trailers but before the KFC ad. You know, the one below:

He says something in the region that goes like: "Terima kasih, kepada yang membeli tiket wayang, DVD, dan muat-turun asli.... sokongan anda memberikan kami ruang dan peluang untuk terus berkaya."
Muat-turun asli? Legal downloads? I know other countries have iTunes and Netflix, but since when did we have legal downloads in this country? Am I missing something?

UPDATE: Just found a new one, this time for the movie Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark [2011]. Amazing how six words is translated to just one :)


  1. HAHAHAHAHA!!! Whattafak?!
    I remember seeing Finding Nemo translated as Nemo si Comel.

  2. Heh... there's plenty more, just can't remember the titles.

  3. TOYOL???...BWAHAHHAHAH ngok poster tu seriously x perlu add on muka binatang tu...setahu originalnyer mana ada gambo tu..pelik aku kekadang poster keluar kat malaysia nih

  4. betul la... baru prasan poster original xde pon "toyol" tuh... kasi ilang sapen da letak kat poster..


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