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Oscars 2017 : what the names of the movies are hiding

editorial & artculture & photo…

22 February 2017

The Oscar ceremony is fast approaching. In a little less than a week, we will finally know the names of the actors who will return home with a Hollywood statuette in hand. Like every year, many French people will watch this cultural rendezvous on the small screen. But before the show starts, do you know what elements are hiding behind the original titles of the nominated films? For the sake of detail, ABA English, an online English academy with millions of students around the world, explains how to interpret the five most curious titles of cinematographic works that will make a lot of talk this Sunday .

 1. La La Land (directed by Damien Chazelle)

The musical film with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling is undoubtedly the favorite of the ceremony since he is nominated in more than half of the categories. The title, apparently simple enough to understand, actually hides two anglophone references. The American press uses the name "La La Land" to talk about the city of Los Angeles (often abbreviated as LA). This expression also indicates "having the head in the clouds", a characteristic trait shared by Mia and Sebastian, the two protagonists of the film.

 2. Moonlight (directed by Barry Jenkins)

The literal translation of Moonlight is "the light of the moon". However, the film deals with a slice of life of an African American teenager who lives in Miami's ill-fated neighborhoods and appears to be tormented by his sexual orientation. To understand the relationship between the title and the film, it is necessary to know that this cinematographic masterpiece is an adaptation of Tarell Alvin McCraney's play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue. This original title means "under the light of the moon, the black boys look blue." In this case, the word "blue" has a figurative meaning. It can mean "sad" or "melancholic".

 3. Fences (directed by Denzel Washington)

In his third film as director, the famous actor Denzel Washington decided to adapt to the cinema a theatrical work of the playwright August Wilson. Even though very few people grasp the different linguistic nuances of this original English title, it has been maintained in the headlines. The primary meaning of the word "fences" is "walls", like those that the protagonists build around their homes in the film. The title also refers to the invisible barriers that separate the characters very different from each other. Finally, "fence" comes from "defense", "defense" in French, and "fencing", a word from the same family, means "fencing". The title of the new film by Denzel Washington thus evokes battles, separations and a desire for protection.

 4. Hell or High Water (Comancheria in France, directed by David Mackenzie)

The title of this neo-western, with Jeff Bridges as a leading actor, refers to the English phrase "come hell or high water" which could be translated in French as "contre vents et tides". In France, in order to make this title more eye-catching, distributors have chosen to call it "Comancheria", the nickname of a geographical area that lies between the states of New Mexico and Texas, where fictitious history thought By David Mackenzie takes place.

 5. Zootopia (Zootopie in France, directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore)

The original title of Disney's new animated film is a mix of two different words: zoo and utopia. This invented word evokes an imaginary place, unreal, like the one that the American production company offers us to discover on the screen.

 Maria Perillo, Chief Learning Officer of ABA English, commented: "We observe that fewer and fewer titles of films are being translated today. Keeping the original title can allow the French to take a little more interest in English and to learn current expressions and ready-made phrases that often inspire titles of cinematographic works.

 The Oscars ceremony is a good opportunity to improve your English, as well as watch the films nominated in V.O. Rendez-vous on 26th February to know the names of the winners!