10 Movies Twists You Would’ve Figured Out Sooner If You Spoke Another Language

Summary

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  • “The Usual Suspects,” has a shocking twist revealed in Spanish, “¡Vaya, es un hombre!” which translates to “Oh, it’s a man!” This line is spoken by a police officer when they discover the true identity of the main antagonist, Verbal Kint, who is actually the infamous criminal, Keyser Söze. Spanish speakers can easily understand the twist and the surprise element is lost for them.
  • “The Prestige,” has a twist revealed in French, “C’est une magie!” which translates to “It’s magic!” This line is spoken by a character named Robert Angier, who is a magician in the movie. The twist is that Angier’s assistant, Olivia Wenscombe, is actually his wife who has been helping him with his magic tricks. French speakers can understand the twist and the surprise element is lost for them.

Movies made in the United States can never resist using foreign languages as an easy place to squeeze in some foreshadowing. While non-English films can reach some of the same amazing heights as Hollywood productions, it’s no surprise that most American films are written for English. That being said, when another dialect does make its way into an American-made movie, filmmakers often can’t resist taking the opportunity to hint at the narrative to come, possibly even spoiling major twists.

The best movie twists really are impossible to see coming, but feel obvious in hindsight, playing on the audience’s perceptions of what they were actually seeing at various points in a given story. Yet for those who speak multiple languages, movie twists can sometimes be given away incredibly early on thanks to some foreign-language dialogue that the filmmakers don’t expect most viewers to understand. It’s within these tongue-in-cheek jokes and meta references to important events that are only revealed later that filmmakers can sometimes play their hand just a little too early.

10 The Usual Suspects

Has its big twist hinted at in Turkish

Keyser Söze (Kevin Spacey) lights up a cigarette in the ending of The Usual Suspects

When it comes to the best movie twists of all time, The Usual Suspects is certainly a contender. The film uses the interrogation of the lone survivor of a vicious crime-related massacre as a framing device, slowly edging at the truth of the perpetrator over the course of a long story. In the end, it turns out that all along it was the unassuming Roger “Verbal” Kint that was responsible the entire time, actually the infamous Turkish crime lord Keyser Söze.

Kint’s true identity might actually come across as obvious from the start to those familiar with Turkish. His unusual nickname, “Verbal”, is a reference to the Turkish word “söz”, meaning “one who talks to much.” Not only is this an accurate description of Kint’s tall tales, but it has an obvious phonetic similarity to his true name, Keyser Söze.

9 Iron Man

Urdu speakers got the twist villain reveal early

Iron Man being held hostage by the Ten Rings.

2008’s Iron Man not only revitalized Robert Downey Jr.’s illustrious career, but changed cinema forever with the introduction of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That being said, the superhero origin story was still a film like any other, and is well beholden to the same tropes as its peers. This can be seen early on in the film where the ultimate villain behind Tony Stark’s kidnapping by the Ten Rings terrorist organization is revealed much earlier for those who speak Urdu.

While the Ten Rings may be a fictional terrorist group, the language they speak is very real, though it isn’t given any subtitles to make audiences feel just as stranded as the captured Tony Stark. One of the terrorists lets slip that it was, in fact, Obadiah Stane who hired them to assassinate Tony Stark. Stane might not be the most subtle twist villain, but it’s worth noting that, for Urdu speakers, his involvement is made apparent from shockingly early on.

8 Cube 2: Hypercube

Has a not-so-secret identity for Slavic speakers

Cube 2 Hypercube Glass Spikes

Compared to the moodiness of its predecessor, Cube 2: Hypercube somewhat muddles the horror of the premise by focusing on the Hypercube’s creators and purpose with renewed vigor. In the sequel, many of the cube’s victims are searching for an infamous hacker named Alex Trusk, who is only known by name, not appearance. Trusk only reveals themself well over halfway into the film, but is essentially hidden in plain sight for Russian or Slavic speakers.

Alex Trusk is revealed to be Sasha, who had willingly gone into the Hypercube. Those familiar with Slavic cultures can note that Sasha is usually used as the diminutive form of “Alexander” or “Alexandra”, making the supposed shocking twist obvious to those from any Slavic countries. For everyone else, the twist does manage to still catch first-time-viewers off-guard, if not dramatically so.

7 Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

Has its twist villain revealed with a joke in German

Ace (Jim Carrey) with various animals hanging off him in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

The early reveal of shocking twist identities via a tongue-in-cheek reference in another language is a shockingly common phenomenon. Not only do prestige drama crime films like The Usual Suspects and blockbuster hits like Iron Man partake, but even baser comedies such as the Ace Venture series get in on the fun. In the first film, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Ace is endlessly harassed by Lieutenant Lois Eisenhorn, a female police officer who sees Ace’s quirky methods as inferior.

Towards the end of the film, the shocking discovery is uncovered that Eisenhorn is actually criminal animal kidnapper Ray Finkle, who completely altered his appearance in order to infiltrate the police. Eisenhorn’s change in presented gender might be obvious to any German speakers who see the film right away, considering “Eisenhorn” means “unicorn” in German. It’s not hard to guess what the unicorn horn implied by Finkle’s alternate identity could be referring to.

6 Inglorious Basterds

Hans’ French is actually quite good

Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) subtly interrogates Shosanna (Melanie Laurent) during a meal in Inglorious Basterds.

The opening scene of Inglorious Basterds is one of the most vile and nerve-wracking introductions to a villainous character ever created, especially in the context of a Quentin Tarantino movie. A Nazi officer tasked with finding Jewish families hidden across Europe, Colonel Hans Landa is an evil man who conceals his deeds with a cheerful smile and an altogether pleasant demeanor. While talking with a French dairy farmer who is secretly harboring Jews underneath his floor, Hans asks to switch their conversation to English, citing his inadequacy with French.

Native French speakers will note that Hans’ French is actually quite good, and that he clearly must be fluent enough to hold entire conversations in it. This is a subtle indication of the real reason Hans wants to change what language he’s speaking to the farmer in — He knows of the Jews underneath them, and wants to speak without them being able to understand. This essentially confirms that the farmer is indeed harboring fugitives from the Nazis far earlier than the scene itself does.

5 The Thing

Norwegian researchers spoil the whole movie

The Dog looks on in The Thing

The Thing is one of the best classic horror movies to watch with no background knowledge going in, if possible, with the elusive titular beast being full of surprises. One of these surprises comes in quite early in the film, in which a team of Norwegian researchers in Antarctica chase a poor dog into the American base the film takes place in, shooting it with rifles from a helicopter. This dog later turns out to be The Thing, a horrific shape-shifting alien, but the American scientists are none the wiser.

For those fluent in Norwegian, the dog’s true identity is made clear from the get-go. The Norwegian researcher attempts to plead with the Americans in his native language while chasing the dog, stating “That’s not a dog, it’s some sort of thing! It’s imitating a dog, it isn’t real! Get away, you idiots!” Unfortunately for the American base, this warning isn’t understood, and the “dog” is saved from the seemingly maniacal Norwegians. The 2011 The Thing prequel actually explains how the Norwegians got to this point in the first place.

4 Iron Man 2

Lampshades its final action scene with a Russian pun

A close-up of Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko AKA Whiplash in his partial power suit in Iron Man 2

Of all the Iron Man trilogy’s villains, Ivan Vanko, a.k.a. Whiplash, is by far the least talkative, seeming to not have an especially strong grasp of English. This is played up in his interactions with secondary villain and weapons manufacturing rival to Tony Stark, Justin Hammer, who abuses Vanko’s brilliant engineering skills in order to field a drone army to sell to the U.S. armed forces. Concerned about the drones’ optics, Hammer pesters Vanko about the humanoid robots’ ability to salute like a real soldier.

Vanko assures Hammer that the drones can “make salute,” which is actually something of an ominous pun in Russian hinting at the drones’ eventual enactment of Vanko’s personal revenge. “Salyut” is Russian for “fireworks”, something the drones certainly make a lot of when they lead an explosive assault on Tony Stark following their stage debut. This tongue-in-cheek pun helps prep Russian speakers for Vanko’s true intentions with the Hammertech drones.

3 Godzilla Minus One

Had German instructions giving away its twist

The J7W Shinden in Godzilla Minus One plane

Interestingly, despite not being an American-made film, Godzilla Minus One gives away a powerful emotional beat to any audience members who happen to speak German in addition to Japanese or English. Though the English subtitles of the most recent Japanese-made Godzilla movie do a great job by and large translating the spoken Japanese of the film, they don’t bother to translate a few lines of German text, preserving a powerful moment. As protagonist Koichi prepares the experimental J7W Shinden for use against Godzilla, a few lines of German text can be seen on the plane’s cockpit.

This text is actually instructions for using the plane’s experimental ejection seat, spoiling the sudden reveal that Koichi isn’t planning on dying in the kamikaze attack, hoping to save himself with the technology at the last second. It’s certainly not clear that Koichi still values his life at this point in the film, with the sigh of relief felt when he does eject a moment of emotional reprieve that gave German speakers an early heads-up. This small bit of foreshadowing is just one of Godzilla Minus One‘s many Easter eggs.

2 The Da Vinci Code

Recognizes its own tropes in Italian

Bishop Aringarosa taking a phone call in The Da Vinci Code

It’s always a good time when a given movie, even one that takes itself as relatively seriously as The Da Vinci Code, is able to poke fun at itself for the tropes it uses. The adaptation of the hit Dan Brown mystery novel gets away with a fun plot development that is signaled obviously to anyone who speaks Italian. Throughout the film, Alfred Molina’s Bishop Aringarosa can be assumed to be the film’s ultimate big bad, being the one behind the mysterious Opus Dei organization calling the shots.

In reality, it’s Ian McKellan’s Sir Teabing that serves as the final antagonist, with the Bishop being a mere red herring. This would be made obvious to any Italian speakers right away, as “Aringarosa” can literally be translated into “red herring” in Italian. A “red herring” refers to a clue or character that appears to be the obvious answer to a question only to serve as a distraction from the truth.

1 The Hobbit

Makes a subtle character connection in Elvish

The Hobbit - Thranduil & Legolas

It’s rare for fans to be fluent in a completely fictional language, but by the time of the Peter Jackson The Hobbit trilogy, it wouldn’t be unfair to assume that some Tolkien-heads went in fully fluent in one of the series’ many Elvish dialects. Tolkien famously created many very comprehensible fictional languages, chief among them being the Elvish tongue of Quenya. In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Elvish lyrics in this dialect are used in the chorus that plays when the Elf king Thranduil pays homage to Thrór.

Thranduil appears to solicit a rare set of gems from Thrór, and the lyrics of the ethereal choir behind his actions hint as to why. The song implies the gems had a connection to his late wife, the fallen Elvish queen. Not only that, but the lyrics also seem to indicate the White Gems of Lasgalen as being made of pure starlight. This only sets up Thranduil’s rage when Thrór refuses the request, resulting in his presence at the Battle of the Five Armies later in the movie.

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