Translations of David O. Russell’s “American Hustle” include options such as “American Dream” in Israel, “American Bluff” in France, “American Scandal” in Argentina, “American Sting” in Portugal, “American Scam” in Quebec, and “Trickster” in Turkey. The main complication is related to the use of the term “hustle”, which the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English defines as “ways of getting money that involve cheating or deceiving people”.
Business and Sales
Non-English speakers around the world are used to having movies translated, subtitled and dubbed. Most of the time, the translations need to be adapted to meet the needs of an audience which, although generally familiar with Hollywood life and culture, is still non-American. If a more direct translation of the title does not properly convey what the movie is all about, Hollywood studios generally agree to adapt it, stated Arie Barak, owner of the Israeli public relations company which represents Fox, Sony and Disney. Examples of this process include the translation of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” as “It’s Raining Falafel”, where a foreign concept like that of meatballs gets replaced by a local one to help Israelis relate to the movie.
Consequences of Globalisation
Barak clarified that in an era of globalisation most film titles are translated as close to the original as possible, but he added that the main principle to be followed is related to sales and business. What the distributors and producers keep in mind is ultimately related to whether the translated title will sell.
However, not everyone agrees with the policy. Danny Warth, who works at the local theatre Tel Aviv Cinematheque, considers every film a work of art and criticises a practice which he considers insulting to the genre. According to Warth, the film industry allows for alterations which would not be considered when translating novels or theatre productions.