Friday, September 26, 2008

Scarlett Johansson gets angry and wrestles bears in "The Nanny Diaries"

by Chris MaGee

Who the what now??? What do Scarlett Johansson, her film "The Nanny Diaries" and bear wrestling have to do with Japanese cinema? Well, not a lot, but the folks at Gaijin Heart have a really interesting article about how Japanese film distributors often have to change a U.S. film's title to either make them more appealing to Japanese audiences or to help bridge the cultural gap between East and West. In this case the 2007 comedy "The Nanny Diaries", being released in Japan on October 11th, has to have its name changed due the the fact that "nanny" sounds too much like "onanie" a word referring to masturbation so "The Nanny Diaries" becomes "'私がクマにキレた理由(Watashi ga kuma ni kireta riyuu)" which roughly translates to "The Reason I Get Mad at the Bear". Confused as to how a bear gets into the title? Me too.

To be totally fair this goes both ways. North American distributors have been changing the titles of Japanese films for years. The first example that jumps into my head being Kihachi Okamoto's 1966 jidai-geki film "大菩薩峠, Dai-bosatsu tōge". Translated it should have been "The Pass of the Great Buddha." Japanese audiences would have recognized the title from the famous novels of Kaizan Nakazato on which the film was based, but those of us in the rest of the world would have been left scratching our heads, thus it was retitled "The Sword of Doom".

So, Scarlett may not be bear wrestling but in a weird kind of way I wish she was. At least then I would have some desire to see this film... but that's bear wrestling! Not bare wrestling! Get your head out of the gutter!

Thanks to Japan Probe for pointing the way to this story.

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