Do you like movies? Sometimes, you don't understand what the movie is about. Well, if you lived here in Czech Republic, it would be even harder for you. Although you might think differently, the technical quality of Czech dubbing is actually very good. The problem is that rather often there are glaring errors in translation. I'm translating movies myself and I understand that you have to translate not the words but THE IDEA behind the words. But on the following page you'll see examples of errors resulting from the simple fact that the translator didn't have any idea what the original sentence means. Even more interesting is the fact that the movie often has up to four different translations: For theatrical release, for video release, for DVD release and finally for TV, while several completely different versions sometimes exist for different Czech TV stations and DVD subtitles are usually done outside Czech Republic, by people who sometimes don't even know Czech grammar! You'll see the original sentences followed by their Czech translations which I very carefully translated back to English to retain their Czech meaning. Very often the result doesn't make any sense. That's right. It doesn't make any sense in Czech either and very often I have no idea how the translator came up with such gems. It's interesting that no one during the translation process was disturbed by the words that defy the logic of the scene or the whole movie. Some interesting translations of the movie titles are also included. (Just don't think that these are the only errors that I ever saw / heard!) Enjoy. And don't think that I never make mistakes when translating movies!
"I like it black. Like my men." (said by female about her coffee), is translated is "I like it black. And so does my husband."
- - - ALADDIN (DVD)
Czech subtitles for "Three wishes? You are down by one!" say "Three wishes? You've got only one remaining!", which rather confuses the plot.
- - - ALIEN
Czech title of this movie (and the sequels) was VETRELEC, which means "intruder". This was actually rather clever (the literal translation doesn't work in Czech language). But it had interesting side effect. Because the first movie was very popular (one of the very few sci-fi movies shown here before the fall of the communism), LOTS of people thought (and still think) that english word "alien" means "intruder", so you can very often see and hear "illegal alien" translated as "illegal intruder", "alien world" translated as "world of intruders" and "aliens" (for example in X-Files) are "intruders". In this case, it seems that one movie actually changed our vocabulary. :)
- - - ALIEN 3 (Theatrical subtitles)
"It kills on sight" (said about Alien) is translated as "It kills remotely".
- - - ALIEN 3 (DVD)
"Droid" is translated as "Druid" and "Android" as "Andruid"!!!
On the DVD jacket: Chapter 13 title "Discussing the Dragon" (meaning "the Alien") is translated as "Discussing Satan". At first I thought this was intentional, but when I watched the movie, "dragon" was indeed translated as "drak" ("dragon"). So I compared the titles of other chapters and some of the weirder translations were: Chapter 8: "Diced" (English) = "Hopeless (Czech); Chapter 16: "Who's in charge?" = "Who's in cargo bay?"; Chapter 19: "Under the scanner" = "Under supervision"; Chapter 21: "In the Basement" = "In the bowels of the ship"; Chapter 26: "In the Mold" = "On the dry land". Weird, huh?
- - - AMERICAN PIE
Not exactly "error", but certainly very "inventive". This movie's Czech title is PRCI, PRCI, PRCICKY (literally "Fucking, fucking, little fucking" - Yes, really). This is supposed to evoke (but I am not sure why) either the children's game "Patty Cake" ("Paci paci pacicky") or the title of Czech movie PASTI, PASTI, PASTICKY ("Traps, traps, little traps"), which is about rape victim who castrates her assailants and is not exactly a comedy.
- - - BEAN
The tagline "Biggest Disaster Movie" is translated as "Biggest Movie Disaster".
- - - BLADE RUNNER - FINAL CUT (DVD subtitles)
The single word "PURGE", appearing on the hovercraft monitor during the start, is translated as "UPLNE VYMAZANI DAT" ("Erase all data"). I'm not sure, maybe this is what Ridley Scott meant, but it caught me by surprise nonetheless...
- - - BRAINSMASHER: A LOVE STORY (Video)
This B-movie contains amazing translation error. There are some martial-arts monks who just run around and tell everyone "We are the monks from the Red Lotus temple". Each time they say it or someone else mentions them, the word "monk" is translated as "monkey", e.g. "We are the monkeys from the Red Lotus temple"!!!
- - - CHAIN OF COMMAND (TV)
Czech title of this movie means "SHACKLES OF POWER".
- - - CHARLIE'S ANGELS (DVD)
In the DVD subtitles, the movie is called "CHARLI'S ANGELS" and in all the subtitles, the boss is indeed refererred to as "Charli". While some foreign names are indeed transliterated in Czech language, "Charlie" is definitely not one of them.
"Bikini waxer" is translated as "masseuse in bikinis".
- - - CHILDREN OF THE CORN ?? (TV dubbing)
I am not sure which part of the series this was, but the recurring name "He Who Walks Behind The Rows" was consistently translated as "He Who Walks Behind The Rose"!!!
- - - CLUELESS (Video)
Czech title of this comedy means "POWERLESS" (not exactly a word that you would use to describe the heroine).
- - - DARKNESS FALLS
The original title of this horror has two meanings. It means that "darkness is coming" and it's also the name of the city in the movie. The "Czech solution"? The title is "PAD DO TEMNOT", meaning "FALLING INTO THE DARKNESS", as in "someone is physically falling into some dark place".
- - - DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
The movie's Czech title is DRACI DOUPE (which means "Dragon's Den"). This is rather interesting if you consider the fact that DRACI DOUPE is the name of popular Czech role-playing game which is certainly VERY inspired by Dungeons & Dragons but is published by different (Czech) company and certainly is not approved by makers of original Dungeons & Dragons game!
Another funny thing with the title is that Czech posters and other promotional artwork (see the picture on the right) retained the graphical layout of the original posters (same "D" letters and the "&" ampersand character) so the Czech title actually reads "DRACI & DOUPE" ("DRAGON'S & DEN").
- - - THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS
Czech title of the first movie is "RYCHLE A ZBESILE", which means "QUICKLY AND FURIOUSLY". But wait! The fourth movie's original title is "FAST AND FURIOUS" and its Czech title is "RYCHLI A ZBESILI", which means "THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS"!!!
- - - ERASER (Video Dubbing)
"Railgun" is translated as "Railroad gun".
"Yakuza" is pronounced "Djakuza".
BTW, Czech title of this Schwarzenegger movie is LIQUIDATOR. Not a translation error but brilliant marketing idea. :)
- - - 15 MINUTES
This is not exactly the case of bad translation, but it's funny as hell: One of the killers in 15 MINUTES is played by Karel Roden, rather famous Czech actor. Because of this, Czech trailers for this movie are re-edited (rather crudely) to emphasize his name (which is not mentioned in the original trailer). The result is that the narrative titles during the trailer (which were left in English) now say: ROBERT DE NIRO ... EDWARD BURNS ... THE KILLINGS WON'T STOP ... UNTIL YOU ... (in a different typeface) KAREL RODEN. This bizarre tagline got a little bit of notoriety back then. Also check out the Czech VHS cover at the right. I somehow doubt this was approved by De Niro. :)
- - - GANGS OF NEW YORK (DVD)
The words "sneak thief" ("lstivy zlodej") are translated as "zlodej hadu" ("snake thief").
- - - GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK (Theatrical Subtitles)
Several times, the term "code room" is translated as if it was "courtroom".
- - - FROM DUSK TILL DAWN 3: HANGMAN'S DAUGHTER (Video)
The movie is about the daughter of a man who performs hangings but the subtitle "Hangman's Daughter" is translated as "Hanged Man's Daughter".
- - - HAROLD & KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE
The distributor wisely ignored the original title, and instead titled this comedy "ZAHULIME, UVIDIME". These two words mean "Let's Smoke Some Shit, Let's See What Next" (plus, it rhymes). Yes, Czech is beautifully expressive language.
- - - HOME ALONE 2
"World Trade Center" is translated as "Center of [someone named] Wortrade".
- - - HOT SHOTS
The title is translated literally: "Warm Shots".
- - - HULK (Trailer)
In the famous quote "You wouldn't like me when I am angry", the last word is translated as if it was "hungry".
- - - IDLE HANDS (DVD)
"Your stoned friends" is translated "your rock-solid friends"
"Gross!" is repeatedly translated as "Great!"
"This is a kicker!" is translated as "This is a baby!" (with no baby anywhere in sight).
"bong" (pipe for smoking marijuana) is repeatedly translated as "bongo"
- - - THE INCREDIBLES (Dubbing)
When Lucius Best comes to visit the Parrs, he's greeted with "How are you doing?". This is translated as "How do you do that?".
During the final battle for the Omnidroid remote control, someone yells "Throw it!". This is translated as "Drop it!".
In Czech, there are "informal" and "formal" forms of addressing people. If you just met someone, you are using the formal form. If you already know someone and are his/her friend/girlfriend/boyfriend, you use the informal forms. That means whenever there is "you", "your" etc. in the English text, Czech translator must decide which form to use. In the prologue of The Incredibles, Mr. Incredible meets Elastigirl on the rooftops and they both use the formal form of addressing. This is acceptable because they are probably "playing it serious" as two super-important superheroes with super-secret identities. However, when they meet in the church later that evening, they are still using the formal form exclusively! It sounds totally illogical given the circumstances and the only reason that comes to my mind is that the translator thought that Elastigirl and Mr. Incredible first met that day on the rooftop and are immediately marrying, without getting to know each other, because they fell in love at the first sight.
When Ellen's jet approaches Syndrome's island and is trailed by his missiles, Ellen repeatedly shouts "Disengage!" into the headset (addressing the people on the island who launched the missile). All occurences of this word are translated as "I'll fly away!" in the Czech dubbing.
- - - INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE (Theatrical dubbing)
At the beginning of the movie (on the ship), Indy and the bad guy have the following conversation: "This belongs to a museum" - "So do you!" This is translated as "This belongs to a museum" - "So, do it!"
- - - THE LAKE HOUSE (Theatrical subtitles)
This alternate-timeline mystery romance is already confusing enough. Translating "paw prints" (made when the dog stepped into the paint, rather important plot point) as "scratches on the door" makes it even more confusing.
- - - LAWNMOWER MAN (Theatrical dubbing)
Whoever translated this was probably not very skilled with computers. The term "Virtual reality" is consistently translated as "skutecna realita" ("real reality").
- - - LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU (Theatrical subtitles)
The establishing title "Mutiny on the Belafonte" (Belafonte is Zissou's ship) is translated as "Silence on the Belafonte" (translator probably thought that "mutiny" is somehow derived from "mute").
- - - LORD OF THE RINGS: FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING (Theatrical subtitles)
In the Rivendell, when Gandalf says to Frodo "You're beginning to mend", it's translated as "You're beginning to melt".
When Gimli says "Nobody tosses the dwarf" (before he's thrown across the chasm in Moria), it's translated as "Nobody strikes down the dwarf".
- - - LORD OF WAR (Theatrical Subtitles)
"Uzi submachine gun" translated as "Uzi sumbarine weapon".
- - - LOST IN SPACE (Video)
"Neural net" translated as "Neutral net".
- - - MALLRATS (TV subtitles)
The term "firm handshake" is translated as "company handshake".
- - - MATRIX (Theatrical subtitles)
When Morpheus trains Neo, he says "You're faster than this. Don't think you are. Know you are". This is translated as "You're faster than this. I don't think you are. I know you are."
- - - MICKEY BLUE EYES
Local title of this movie is "Mick's Blue Eyes". Apart from the fact that someone didn't get that "Blue Eyes" is nickname, "Mick" was substituted for "Mickey". I was told that reason for this was that the boss of the local distribution company is nicknamed Mick so this seemed like good joke for them.
- - - MILLION DOLLAR BABY (DVD subtitles)
"Somewhere between nowhere and good pie" translated as "Somewhere between nowhere and goodbye".
- - - MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE (Video)
When Ethan reads the address "Job@Max..." from the computer monitor, he pronounces it "Job and Max..."
- - - MONTY PYTHON LIVE AT THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL (TV subtitles)
"Would you like a blowjob?" is translated as "Would you like an explosion?".
"Life can be fine if we both sixty-nine" is translated as "Life can be fine if we are both 69 years old".
"Californian root tree" is translated as if it was "Californian rude tree". Rude tree? Yes, rude tree.
- - - MOULIN ROUGE! (Theatrical subtitles)
The exclamation "My dear, a little frog!" is translated as "My dear little frog!" ("my little frog" is rather common term of affection in Czech language).
- - - THE NEXT BEST THING
Local title of this movie is "THE FOLLOWING RIGHT THING".
- - - 9 1/2 WEEKS (TV Dubbing)
"Jaws theme" is translated as "Jazz theme"! ("jazz" and "jaws" are completely different words in Czech)
- - - THE OUT-OF-TOWNERS
Someone probably tried to translate first "OUT", then "OF" and then "TOWNERS" and the Czech title of this movie was supposed to be "FAR FROM THE TOWNSPEOPLE" (which is almost exact opposite of what the movie was about). Fortunately, local theatrical release was cancelled.
- - - PLANET OF THE APES (TV trailer)
"Bow you head!" is translated as "Turn!"
- - - THE PACIFIER (theatrical trailer)
The exchange "We are gonna be late! - Not on my watch." is translated as "We are gonna be late! - Not according to my watch."
"Bradley assault vehicle" is translated as "A vehicle which insults Mr. Bradley".
- - - THE POSTMAN
Czech title of this Kevin Costner movie was "MESSENGER OF THE FUTURE". It seems that Warner Bros. attempt to "spice up" the titles of their movies when they bomb in the U.S. See also "THE SOLDIER".
- - - RICOCHET (Theatrical dubbing)
This one is legendary: When gangster says to the hero "It took a lot of balls for you to come here.", it's translated "It had to cost you much effort and many balls [e.g. soccer balls] to come here." You can hear this as MP3, it's timeless! ORIGINAL VERSION - CZECH VERSION
When one of the characters says something along the lines of "I'll speak to General Attorney about that", "General Attorney" is translated (or rather, not translated) as "[army] General [named] Attorney", as in "General Smith", for example
When an order is given, one of the marines acknowledges it with "Aye aye, Sir". This is translated as "An eye for an eye, Sir."
- - - THE SOLDIER
Czech title of this Kurt Russell movie was "MERCENARY: LEGION OF DOOM". It seems that Warner Bros. attempt to "spice up" the titles of their movies when they bomb in the U.S. See also "THE POSTMAN".
- - - SOUTH PARK (TV series dubbing)
At least during the whole first season, you can perfectly understand what Kenny says in Czech dubbing. That means most of Kenny's jokes are completely made up, often killing the original punchline in the process.
"Chef" is always addressed as "Sef", which is Czech word for "boss" (sounding vaguely like "Chef").
- - - SPY HARD (Video)
The establishing title "Major Babe's House" is translated as "House of [army] major [named] Babe".
- - - STARSHIP TROOPERS (Theatrical subtitles)
(This is actually a mistake I made when translating this movie! It's not the only one I ever made but the others are not very funny or interesting.) During his "psychological experiments", one of the characters tries to hypnotize his ferret (or whatever that was) with the words "Go. Bug. Mom." I thought that these three words were valid English sentence and "bug" was verb so I translated it as "Go pester mom". In fact, these are three isolated words, "bug" is noun and the command is to go eat the bug that is crawling on his mother's leg (he is in fact explaining this in his next sentence).
- - - STAR WARS EPISODE IV (Theatrical dubbing)
When C-3PO first meets Luke, he says "I am not very good at telling
stories. Well, not at making them interesting, anyways." In Czech version, he says "I am not very good at telling stories. I am not Spielberg." I kid you not! Probably someone's idea of a joke.
When Tarkin says "I think it is time we demonstrate the full power of this
station.", it's translated as "I think it is time to take full advantage of this situation."
(This is actually from Slovak subtitles [The Czech subtitles were done by me] but I couldn't resist) "He saw lamas" is translated as "He saw llamas".
- - - TERMINAL VELOCITY
"Glad to see you, comrade" (said by a Russian to another Russian) is translated as "Glad to see you, commander".
- - - THREE TO TANGO
The original VHS jacket of this movie (about a guy who pretends to be gay) says: "Oscar Novak will finally come out of the closet and declare that he is, well, straight." The Czech jacket (when translated back to English) says: "Oscar Novak will finally leave the toilet and declare that he is good and straightforward."
- - - TROY (Theatrical subtitles)
"Do you hear the crows?" is translated as "Do you hear the crowds?".
- - - VAN HELSING (Theatrical Subtitles)
"One more bolt!" (when waiting for the lightning to give life to the monster) is translated as "One more nail!".
- - - VELVET GOLDMINE (Video)
The newspaper headline "Brian Slade Sales Plummet" is translated as "Brian Slade Sells Weapons".
- - - THE VILLAGE (Theatrical subtitles)
When Sigourney Weaver says to Joaquin Phoenix "Sometimes you remind me of a colt", the word "colt" is translated as "Colt revolver", not "young horse".
- - - WAYNE'S WORLD (Theatrical dubbing)
In the original, Wayne (or Garth?) says something like "Help, I'm being sucked in by the tractor beam!" Czech translator, unaware that there's something like Star Trek, translated "tractor beam" as "beam (=mechanical part of engine) of a tractor (=agricultural vehicle)" - "traktorova hridel" in Czech.
- - - WIMBLEDON (Theatrical subtitles)
At crucial point in the movie, main character says about his relationship: "She didn't let me down. I let her down." This is translated as "She didn't dump me. I dumped her.", making his important speech sound very different.
- - - ZATHURA (Theatrical trailer)
The last sentence in the trailer - "Dad will kill us" ("Tata nas zabije") - is translated as "Zabije nas to" ("That will kill us").
- - - ZOOLANDER (DVD subtitles)
"You think that you're too cool for school, but I have a newsflash for you, Walter Cronkite... you aren't." is translated as "You think you are too good for school [this doesn't mean anything in Czech] but I've got a message for you... You don't exist."