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THE FULL PIGGY; Why the Chinese changed Monty to Six Naked Pigs.

IT'S not exactly flattering for the lads from Sheffield. Faced with an inscrutable English movie title, the inscrutable Chinese renamed it.

And for millions of northern Chinese moviegoers The Full Monty became the less-than- subtle Six Naked Pigs!

Robert Carlyle and his co-stars fared a little better in the rest of China when it was translated into Cantonese - the other official language - as a more heroic Six Stripped Warriors.

With a record number of western films now being released in China, The Full Monty is just one of many films renamed by the authorities.

Some of the titles are changed because, like The Full Monty, they are impossible to translate. Others need more explanation or an extra twist to entice the Chinese into the cinema.

Perry Wu, marketing manager for Intercontinental Film Distributors, is responsible for renaming films for the Chinese market.

He says Western titles are "flat and boring" and need pepping up for Beijing.

The English Patient, for instance, needed some work. Fearing a direct translation would not sell many tickets, the moving epic was renamed Do Not Ask Me Who I Am - Ever.

"It's a wonderful film, but the title does not tell you that it is a romance set in north Africa and Italy," explains Wu. "We emphasised Ralph Fiennes's mysterious character."

Others attempts to rename British film classics are even more of a mouthful. Oliver Twist becomes Child In Foggy City, Great Expectations is known as Bleeding Tears Of Lonely Star and Hamlet became The Prince's Revenge.

Some title changes mystify Western marketing men.

Even director Mike Leigh was surprised to learn that his award-winning Secrets And Lies was renamed Dreadful, Difficult People.

Titanic and Air Force One are familiar enough names not to need explaining, but Jack Nicholson's current blockbuster As Good As It Gets became, incomprehensibly, Mr Cat Poop.

But the translators do have a sense of humour. The Coen Brothers' film Fargo, named after a blizzard-ridden city in North Dakota, became Mysterious Murder in Snowy Cream. A clever choice - the last two Cantonese words are pronounced "fah go".

And Boogie Nights, a comedy set in the American pornography industry is called Instant Fame - a phrase more familiar to Hong Kong audiences as slang for a large penis.

Other changes are more political.

Richard Nixon may have been a hero in China for ending the country's isolation in 1974. But that didn't stop the Hong Kong translators from changing the name of Oliver Stone's biopic from plain Nixon to The Big Liar.

ELSEWHERE around the world, the translation of Western film titles has long been a source of humour.

When the hit musical Grease was released in Spanish, translators had a problem on their hands.

Literally translated, grease means 'fat' so in Spain, the film was renamed Brilliantine and in Venezuela it was called Vaseline.

Neither do other musicals escape the curse of the translator. Guys And Dolls was renamed Heavy Youths And Light Girls in Germany, and in Mexico The Sound Of Music became The Rebel Novice Nun.

Some films have a different name in different countries. Peyton Place played in Paris as The Pleasures Of Hell, in Munich as Glowing Fire Under The Ashes and in Hong Kong as The Cold And Warmth In The Human World.

And 007 doesn't get away untarnished.

The Japanese, somewhat missing the point, translated Dr No as We Don't Want a Doctor.

Some lose their meaning altogether. Down And Out In Beverly Hills was released in Italy as Up And Down Beverly Hills.

But the prize for the biggest mouthful goes to Hong Kong.

Stumped for a title for the Fifties hospital weepie Not As A Stranger, they came up with The Heart Of A Lady As Pure As A Full Moon Over The Place Of Medical Salvation.

Catchy or what?
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Kemp, Charlotte
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 13, 1998
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