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Alla tua salute, bambina.

Casablanca movie quotations in translation | Frasi celebri di Casablanca in italiano
In 2005, the American Film Institute (AFI) released a list of the top 100 movie quotations of all time and Casablanca (one of my personal favorites) topped the list with the most quotations- a total of six in all.  The lines may seem relatively simple, but there’s a certain something to their wording, flow, and delivery that makes them iconic and special.  This got me thinking about the art of translation and how the Italian translators might have handled these lines.  Some of the renditions are very straightforward and maintain the same feeling, while others seem to have a different “flavor” in Italian.

What do you think?

Alla tua salute, bambina
Original: Here’s looking at you, kid.


Con tutti i ritrovi che ci sono nel mondo, doveva arrivare proprio nel mio.
Original: “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”
"Fermate i soliti sospetti."
Original: Round up the usual suspects.


"Suonala, Sam. Suona 'Mentre il tempo passa.' "
Original: Play it Sam. Play “As time goes by.”
"Avremo sempre Parigi."
Original: We’ll always have Paris.


"Louis, credo che questo sia l'inizio di una bella amicizia."
Original: Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
All photos: Casablanca, 1942, (c) Warner Bros. Pictures,
quotes added by Alex for Via Optimae


I personally feel that all of the lines are good, but there’s a certain “oomph” missing from the Italian translation of “Here’s looking at you, kid.” I’m a translator myself, so I can appreciate the challenges of accurately conveying the meaning, subtext, context, idiom, flow, and timing of this iconic line.  To be fair, “To your health, little girl” sounds much better in Italian than it does in English, but “Here’s looking at you” has a certain something that gets lost in translation.  Not to say the translators did a poor job (I’m stumped for a better alternative!) but it does make the case for learning languages and watching movies in their original language whenever possible.  Watching movies in Italian, I’ve often found that certain lines and expressions became much richer and fuller once I was able to understand the original dialogue instead of relying solely on the English subtitles.

If you’d like to improve Italian, as well as familiarize yourself with Italian culture (both historical and contemporary) here are some great film options, available on Amazon. (You can choose to buy the DVDs, buy or rent digital copies, or some, like Cinema Paradiso are available for free with an Amazon prime membership.)

I enjoyed all of the above films, but if you’re not sure where to start, may I suggest…

Ladri di Biciclette (The Bicycle Thief)
A classic by the famed director De Sica, and worth seeing- whether you’re interested in the Italian language or not.

Il Postino (The Postman)
Endearing and charming and also very interesting linguistically- a “simple”, barely comprehensible postman discovers poetry and the power of words thanks to Pablo Neruda and his beloved, Beatrice.

L’Ultimo Bacio (The Last Kiss)
An American version was also made of this film, but the original Italian one is much better!  An interesting storyline about growing up and settling down, it features more contemporary situations and dialogue that are useful for learning common expressions and real, everyday Italian.

TIP: I recommend watching each movie several times.  The first time, just watch it with English subtitles and enjoy it like you would any movie- paying attention to plot, characters, relationships etc.  On subsequent views, try matching up the expressions you hear in spoken Italian with their English translation written below.  See if its a literal, word for word translation, or if it had to be changed a bit in English.  Make a note of any words you don’t know, or see if you understand any new words based on their context.  If you’re more intermediate-advanced, you might want to try watching in Italian with Italian subtitles.  When you feel really comfortable with the language, turn the subtitles off completely!
Alla vostra salute, bambini!
Buono studio!
Alex on www.viaoptimae.com

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This (your website) was given to me by my tutor and it is clearly one of the best Italian websites I have ever seen, and I have visited many. Again thank you so much!