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The title selection includes the original title and a juxtaposed French title which is referred to as the French subtitle or the secondary title. There are however several kinds of French titles. I will discuss them through various translation methods categories.
The original titles are followed by their faithful translation. The viewers have both the original title and its French equivalent.
As these titles offer the original title and its translation, I will not discuss this subclass further and thus I will only give a list of the French titles that matches this category:
Down by Law - Sous le coup de la loi; Fisher King - Le roi pêcheur; Punch-drunk love - Ivre d'amour; Land of the Dead - Le territoire des morts; Inside man - l'homme de l'intérieur; Diary of the dead - Chroniques des morts-vivants; No country for old men - Non, ce pays n'est pas pour le vieil homme; The Dark Knight: Le Chevalier noir; Watchmen - Les gardiens.
The French juxtaposed title is an Etoffement translation of the original title. I will now study a few cases in point.
Besides the faithful translation, there's an addition of the word "modèles" which forms the expression "employés modèles". This term adds a sense of humour as it is clearly ironical. This title goes along with the genre of the movie: a comedy.
This French juxtaposed title can be translated by "The freaky parade" or " The freak show". This movie is about a circus composed by "freaks": people that are deformed.
In this case, the French title can be translated by "Life and everything else". The addition consists of the words "La vie" that becomes the key idea. One can notice the difference between "Anything else" (that is closer to the French translation "Tout sauf ça") and "everything else" (that is closer to the French translation "tout le reste").
A simple French title would have been "Voitures", but the distributors chose to go with another way of naming a car: "Quatre roues" ("four wheels" in word by word English). This goes along with the protagonists (cars) as this expression is more impersonating.
This is the most important category. The French juxtaposed title is partially changed or even completely different in most of the cases. As my list displays eighteen examples that belong in this category, I will study only some of the most interesting ones.
The French juxtaposed title which can be translated as "the eighth passenger" refers to the Xenomorph that was planted in the body of one of the seven members of the spaceship's crew. This title was selected from one of the taglines of the film when it was released in 1979 in the United States of America: "It's Alien, the 8th passenger."
The original title comes from the latin locution: "Ex Africa semper aliquid novi" which means "Out of Africa always something new" (Toujours quelque chose de nouveau en provenance de l'Afrique"). It is interesting enough to note that this film is largely based on the eponymous book written by the Danish author Karen Blixen. In France, this book was entitled La Ferme africaine based on the beginning of the book and its settings: "I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills". The French distributors chose to select a different subtitle, inspired by the novel's autobiographical kind that was written years after the events took place.
James Cameron's film was entitled Aliens instead of "Alien II" which was the working title. The French juxtaposed title is used for underlining that this movie is the direct sequel of Ridley Scott's film.
The French title undergoes a shift of point of view. Indeed, the faithful translation of the original title could have been "Soutiens-moi" or "Reste à mes côtés". The distributors decided to choose a phrase that is closer to the film's plot ("Count on me" in English). They chose to keep the original title, respecting Rob Reiner's choice, as he shifted the title from The Body (the working title from the eponymous Stephen King's novella) to Stand by Me which comes from Ben E. King's song (which is played during the credits).
Here, the French title consists of the original title followed by the Quebecker one. The later is inspired by the plot which revolves around the misunderstanding and thus the mystery of a dead body's identity. As the original title is the name of a place, the French subtitle is a good way to complete the title instead of translating or transposing it.
Tim Burton's movie is based on Washington Irving's short story called The Legend of Sleepy Hollow which was translated in several French titles: La Légende de Sleepy Hollow or La Légende du Val dormant or La Légende du cavalier sans tête. The later was selected as the secondary French title. Once again in this example, the original name of the place is not translated in favour of a French alternative title.
The French distributors chose to use a title with familiar verbs that rhyme. This goes along with the genre and the characters of Guy Richie's film.
The original title comes from the nickname that the new army recruits are given after their head is shaved. It can be translated literally into French by "Tête de bocal". Sam Mendes film is based upon Anthony Swofford's autobiographical eponymous novel which relates a young American Marine's arrival in the "Operation Desert Shield" in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait during the Gulf War. The French subtitle focuses on the youth of the American soldier freshly enlisted confronted with the war, as it plays a central part in the plot.
Stardust can be translated faithfully into French by "Poussière d'étoile". However, Neil Gaiman's eponymous novel was released in France under its English original title. As for the movie adaptation, the French distributors chose to add a subtitle to Matthew Vaughn's film that fits the genre (fantasy, adventure).
The original title is more connoted by the amusement park and the children that go along with a family and adventure genre of film. However, this film is a romantic comedy destined to teenagers and adults, and that is one of the reasons why the French subtitle diverges from the family movie genre to attract its targeted audience.
King Kong, la huitième merveille du monde; Lifeboat - les naufragés; Short Cuts - Les Américains; Babe, le cochon devenu berger; Get Shorty (Stars et truands); Closer, entre adultes consentants; Serenity - L'ultime rébellion; Click - télécommandez votre vie.
In this category, the original title is replaced by another English title, and followed by either a French translation of the original title or an alternative French title.
The English alternative title is followed by the faithful translation of the original title: The Man Who Wasn't There. The main English title, The barber, characterizes the profession of the main protagonist played by Billy Bob Thornton (diegetic information). Besides, it is worth noticing that "The Barber Project" was the working title before its release.
The original English title of Harold Ramis' film is Analyze That. This is the sequel of the film entitled Analyze This that was released in France under the title Mafia blues. The French subtitle that was chosen is inspired by the tagline of the film: "Back in therapy". Both the alternative English title and the juxtaposed French one underline the fact that this is a sequel.
In France, each title of the Die Hard trilogy - Die Hard (1988), Die Hard 2 (1990) and Die hard with a Vengeance (1995) was released under an alternative French title (respectively: Piège de crystal; 58 Minutes pour vivre; Une journée en enfer).
The fourth episode of the saga was released in 2007 with the title Live Free or Die Hard. As the Die Hard trilogy was a success around the world, the French distributors chose Die Hard 4 as the main title for the 2007 movie. The French subtitle insists that it is a sequel of the saga. Besides, the French juxtaposed title is clearly inspired by the third French title: Une journée en enfer.
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