The funniest Hebrew titles for movies we all know and love! ?

3 min read
Hilly Perlman, Citizen Café Hebrew teacher
Hilly Perlman, Citizen Café Hebrew teacher

It’s a known fact in Israel, that translating movie titles isn’t our strong suit. The work of a Hebrew translators isn’t easy – they need to take many things into consideration. The cultural references are many times lacking, some phrases in English do not exist in Hebrew, and even if the name is just a simple word, the translators might need to choose a gender for it, since pretty much everything is gendered in Hebrew. With all that being said, some translations are just so bad it’s really difficult to understand what was going through the translator’s mind. So yalla, let’s embark on a perplexing journey of the worst Hebrew movie title translations of all time!

The first is probably the most ironic one – yet, the struggle of translation here is pretty understandable. It is the Hebrew name given to the movie “Lost In Translation”אבודים בטוקיו (ah-voo-deem beh-tohk-yoh) or – “Lost in Tokyo”. The translator’s work wasn’t easy since the phrase “lost in translation” doesn’t have a parallel phrase in Hebrew, still they could’ve kept the original meaning by using some other related phrase. But this one is not remotely bad compared to what’s coming next.

The next one is also quite understandable, but the movie was too sensational to compromise for a less than perfect name. It is the translation for the movie “Frozen”! In Hebrew it’s called לשבור את הקרח (leesh-bohr eht hah-keh-rahch) which means “to break the ice”. Why didn’t they just use the word for ‘frozen’ in Hebrew? We can’t know for sure, but it might be due to the fact that the translators didn’t want to define who is frozen. Let me explain – when you say ‘frozen’ in English, who or what is frozen stays unknown. In Hebrew, you have to choose the gender and also whether it is a singular or plural frozen, which kind of makes the name a little more specific and less intriguing. Still, was “to break the ice” the best choice of name for that movie? I’m not entirely sure.

Another one, that is pretty understandable and yet, so so wrong is a famous children’s movie called גשם של פלאפל(geh-shehm shehl fah-lah-fehl)meaning “a rain of falafels”. Can you guess what famous children’s movie was named that way by the elusive, mysterious translators? It is in fact the movie “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs”. It is true that meatballs are not something very common in Israeli culture, and therefore would be very weird in a movie title, but I am guessing the viewers were still quite confused when no falafels appeared anywhere near that movie.

The weirdest, most unnecessarily complicated translation we’ll talk about, is the title for the movie “The Hangover”. In Hebrew to say Hangover, we just say ‘hangover’. You would think the translators will be happy, for their work here is pretty much done. However, it seems like these translators, were paid by the word, since they called the movie – בדרך לחתונה עוצרים בווגאס (bah-deh-rech la-chah-too-nah ohts-reem beh-veh-gahs) meaning “on the way to the wedding, we stop at Vegas”. This terrible translation is known by many as one of the worst title translations, but if I’m being honest there are some that are even worse…

Curious to know about some more terrible Hebrew movie titles? Just look for the translation for “Coyote Ugly”, “Top Gun”, “Superbad” and “Knocked Up”, (warning: some of them are a little inappropriate), and don’t worry if you have problems understanding them, most of the time they don’t really make sense…

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