10 Best Films on Translation and Interpretation

The world of translation and interpretation remains, even today, a great unknown area for all those who do not relate to the sector. However, one of the best ways to convey the reality that surrounds us is the cinema.

There are great films that perfectly portray the life of an interpreter, beginning with the translation of a mysterious language or emphasizing the barriers that the language can pose. In this post we have made our personal selection of the 10 best .


UK. 2005. Sydney Pollack

Nicole Kidman plays a United Nations interpreter who casually listens to a threat to an African president and ends up wrapped in the plot to help the Secret Service prevent it from happening.

This film was key for everyone to understand the difference between translator and interpreter .



USES. 2002. John Woo

During World War II, to prevent the Japanese intelligence services from continuing to decipher the military messages, the US army enlisted hundreds of Navajo Indians to employ a secret code based on their mother tongue, which was the only one ever deciphered.

An example of the evolution of translation and its relevance in history.



USES. 1963. Stanley Donen

Audrey Hepburn is a UN interpreter who falls in love with Cary Grant during a ski vacation. Returning to Paris to ask for her husband’s divorce, she discovers that she has been mysteriously murdered, involved in a robbery of the United States government in which she will also be involved.

The funny scene in the interpreter booth has gone down in the history of cinema.


USES. 1994. Roland Emmerich

A linguist receives a strange request: to translate enigmatic tablets of ancient Egypt. The translation will become the key that will open a fascinating and threatening world. 

Especially recommended for translators and interpreters who also enjoy science fiction and fantastic films.



USES. 2004. Steven Spielberg

This comedy introduces us to Tom Hanks giving life to a tourist of Balkan origin who is caught in the airport JFK of New York after exploding the war in his country and to lose the validity of his passport. Communication problems generate a variety of fun and endearing situations.

However, few know that it is based on the story of Mehran Karimi, an Iranian refugee who lived in the departures room of Terminal 1 of Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport between 8 August 1988 and July 2006.



Switzerland / Russia. 2002. Elena Hazanov

The protagonist of this film is a young Russian translator who lives in Geneva and knows very little about her country of origin. She is responsible for translating for the attorney of a member of the Russian mafia who is imprisoned awaiting trial and who turns out to be a fascinating person.

Great way to show one of the many dangers that an interpreter must face during his career and the relations between him/her and the speaker.


# 7 NELL

USA 1994 Michael Apted

Jodie Foster is a young woman who has lived alone in a hut in the middle of the forest all her life, totally isolated from the rest of the world. After the death of her mother, she is completely alone until she is discovered by a scientist, who begins to study her case. The isolation of the protagonist has led her to communicate in a strange language that the scientist will try to decipher in order to understand its history.

Foster received numerous awards, including the Oscar nomination, for his stellar performance. A story that evokes the duality between functionality and the beauty of language .



France. 2011. Nurith Aviv

Interesting documentary in which translators from different countries, each of which speaks its own language, talking about his experience in the task of translating Hebrew literature written over the centuries: the midrash, Hebrew poetry Medieval or modern and contemporary literature.




USES. 2004. James L. Brooks

Paz Vega is a Mexican woman with little knowledge of English who migrates to the United States to work in the home of a wealthy family. The language barrier will soon become clear.

This comedy is not too good, but Chinese speakers are very gracious to be able to empathize with situations where English crosses our path.

# 10                                                     

Number 10 of this ranking is in your hands.