Film Names

Life Of Pi

Life of Pi film poster, via

Life of Pi film poster, via

Last night I went with some friends to see the film, Life of Pi. Rather annoyingly for bespectacled me, we saw the 3D version, but despite spending the majority of the film battling with the 3D glasses (I eventually took them off completely), I found myself wondering about the name of the main character.

The film does spend a reasonable amount of time near the beginning of the film explaining the name of the title character. Suffice to say, Pi’s full name is Piscine Molitor Patel, and he was indeed named after a swimming pool in Paris. Come secondary school, he changes his name to Pi after being teased about his name. Interestingly, Pi has a brother with the much less out-there name of Ravi.

For those struggling, the French word piscine translates to swimming pool in English, whilst Molitor is just a name for the swimming pool; thus, if Pi were named after a swimming pool in London, he’d maybe have been called St. George’s Swimming Pool Patel.

Piscine Molitor is an actual place, alternatively known as Piscines Auteuil-Molitor and Grands établissements balnéaires d’Auteuil. It was built in 1929, and is noted for it’s art deco design. Despite being closed and abandoned in 1989, it was classified as a French Monument Historique in 1990 (sort of in the way we have listed buildings here in the UK). These days it is on the receiving end of a restoration, which should see it reopen circa 2014.

The name Molitor means miller, and is more often seen as a surname rather than a first name. There is a station on the Paris Métro called Michel-Ange-Molitor, opened in 1913 and named for the two nearby roads – Rue Michel-Ange and Rue Molitor. A fun fact for you all is that roads in France are commonly named after notable (and usually French) people and I can,  for example, say that I’ve seen at least two Rue Jean-Jacques which were named for philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Rue Molitor is probably named for a Marshal of France, Gabriel-Jean-Joseph Molitor

The number Pi, Π, is a mathematical constant which has it’s own special holiday on the 14th March because if you write that date as month/day you get 3/14 and of course Pi is usually rounded to simply 3.14. The constant is usually used in geometry, especially in relation to circles and spheres as Pi can be defined as being the ratio of a circle’s circumference to it’s diameter. Indeed, in the film the character of Pi becomes known for being able to recite numerous digits of his namesake.

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Ever heard of a TV show by the name of Winx Club? My youngest sibling used to watch it quite a bit a few years ago, but these days seems to be addicted to watching Tracy Beaker instead.

Either way, I wanted to talk about the show, which originates in Italy. The storyline of the series follows the adventures of initially 5 central fairy characters, and are generally do lots of good things in the process.

The names of the key characters very much subscribe to the whimsical theme:

Bloom. A whimsical word name I’ve yet to see used, although I guess it’s only a matter of time, really.

Stella. A name I see more and more these days, which derives from Latin and means star.

Flora. Another name related to nature, deriving from Latin and meaning flower.

Musa. This is an interesting pick, and I’m lead to believe this is the Italian word for muse/inspiration. It also happens to be the Arabic form of Moses.

Tecna. Again, a fascinating pick. She’s the fairy of technology, so her name appears to be a strained nod to that.

The Winx Club aside, I’m due to go and see Skyfall at the cinema tomorrow for the second time, and my sister wailed for some time about wanting to go and see the new Tinkerbell film instead. Thus, I thought it worthwhile to ponder for a moment on some of the names from this film, also.

Clarion. At first glance, I would make a wild guess that this name perhaps derives as another elaboration of Claire. Then again, Clarion also happens to be the name of an instrument, kind of a forerunner to the modern trumpet.

Fawn. The name associated with a young deer. Spell it Faun and you get a creature from Roman mythology. Fawn also happens to be a colour, sort of yellow-ish brown in hue.

Periwinkle. A shade of purple, and I’m certain that an old kids show from when I was little, Blues Clues, had a purple cat character in it with the name Periwinkle, too (Plus a pick dog named Magenta).

Vidia. Possibly a nod to the Latin word vida, which means life, but that seems a long shot (although Vidia is notably similar in sound to other names related to vida, including Vita and Vida).

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The Hobbit

For a friend’s birthday yesterday, we all headed off to our local multiplex to see The Hobbit. You might have heard about it’s upcoming release, and I for one was interested to see the film, despite never seeing the previous Lord of the Rings films. Actually, that’s not quite true as a friend made me sit through the extended edition of the first film about a fortnight ago.

The film features a band of dwarves attempting to reclaim their mountain home from a dragon, and indeed one of the friends I went to see the film with commented after it ended that it rather reminded him of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

Each to their own, I suppose.

Anyway, when the dwarves are introduced by name, one can immediately pick up that several of the names rhyme. They all pretty much suit the fantasy-style genre, which is awash with whimsical, fantastical names. which makes sense, since we can’t expect every fantasy world to abide by the same naming trends – that doesn’t even happen from country to country in the real world.

Here are the names of the 13 dwarves starring in The Hobbit:














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Let’s go to the movies: Coco and Kimi

Coco LaBouche & Angelica, from

I sat down and watched the glorious Rugrats in Paris film today, and it left with with some thoughts about some names that eventually spawned this blog post.

For those not familiar with the Rugrats franchise, it follows a group of 12-month-ish babies (Tommy turned 1 in the pilot, and it’s hinted that all the others are older than him) who in the series go on all these outlandish adventures without their parents hardly noticing. This time, the film follows their adventures as they go off to Euroreptarland in the central Paris (Eurodisney spoof?). It was released in 2000, and was an immediate hit with myself, given that I was the target audience at the time.

Rewatching it today reminded me of how much I used to hate the name Coco.

But I had good reason to.

Coco LaBouche is an evil baby-hating character and primary villain in the film and she also happens to be the top gal at the kiddie-aimed Euroreptarland, for reasons that still escape me. Poor career choices doesn’t quite cover it.

For those interested, la bouche is french for mouth.

Since the character was French, one could presume the name Coco was chosen for the character as an English-person-speaking friendly French name. Plus, one of the best known Cocos was Coco Chanel, who was French.

It’s also worth noting that there is a Japanese gymnast at the 2012 Olympics with the name, but she spells it Koko (surname is Tsurumi). There is a similar Japanese name, Kioko, which means child born with happiness.

These days, I don’t particularly hate the name Coco anymore, although the character remains just as unpleasant. Time heals all wounds, maybe?

Whilst we’re on the subject of the film, it also sees the introduction of another new member of the baby-gang, Kimi; she is the same as as Chuckie (who is slightly older than the other babies at almost-2).

Kimi has Japanese heritage, and I remember thinking after watching the film that Kimi was a cool Japanese name, and it appears it actually is, meaning righteous/noble. However, it appears the character’s name Kimi is not short for Japanese pick Kimiko, but for Kimberly.

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Finding Nemo

Marlin & Dory, from

I caught wind of news today that Finding Nemo is set to have a sequel, and I almost jumped for joy. The original was released in 2003 when I was maybe 9 or 10 and it was a staple viewing experience at my primary school for a ‘fun’ lesson at the end of term time. That said, with lessons only 60 minutes long, this meant that we never got to see Marlin actually find Nemo. It was sort of like an anti-climax really.

I loved the film, and it’s great to hear that when it was released it was one of the highest grossing G-rated films of all time until Toy Story 3 was released. It’s also currently the 5th highest grossing animated film of all time.

The names in the films are a delightful mix of sea-inspired names and old fashioned retro names. What’s not to love?

NEMO. The title character who is captured by a scuba diver early on in the film. His name sounds cool and retro, but the meaning of the name? Not so cool – Nemo comes from Latin and means nobody. Also, if you were to spell this name backwards, you’d get omen. However, he does possess that oh-so-cool o- ending.

MARLIN. The name of the initially overprotective father of Nemo. This name most likely comes from Merlin, which is the English form of the name Myrddin and means sea fort. It first came into use circa the Middle Ages as a surname, and as a first name in the 16th century. As well as the clownfish bearing the name, it has also been used for a large fish, also known as a spearfish. Aside from the fishy associations, it’s also the name of a type of bird sometimes also referred to as a godwit.

DORY. The companion of Marlin who helps him search for Nemo. Her name is a short form of names beginning with Dor- which include Dora, Dorcas, Doreen, Doris and Dorothy. This is a name I’ve seen a few babies born to in the last few months. A notable one is the second daughter of comedian Robert Webb, younger sister of Esme who was born in 2011.

DEB&FLO. The name of one of the fish in the dentist’s fish tank and that of her reflection. The name Deb is usually taken as a short form of the name Deborah, which means bee in Hebrew. Deborah also happens to be one of my many nicknames for my sister Heather. Flo on the other hand can be a short form for any Flo- name, of which you can find a selection in a previous post, here.

JACQUES. Another fish tank alumni, this time a pacific cleaner shrimp. An initial look at the name may have you thinking that he’s the French form of Jack – but he’s not, rather, he’s the French form of Jacob/James; the meaning of all three names is supplanter.

NIGEL. This fuddy-duddy Brit pick  was bestowed on an Australia-based pelican. The name comes from the Latin Nigellus, which links up to Neil – a name that means champion or cloud.

RAY. The name of Nemo’s class teacher, the name Ray started off life as a nickname for either Rachel or Raymond, this name has evolved into a name in it’s own right. There have been a slew of celeb babies recently bestowed the name Ray either in the first or middle name slot, from Brit-boy Ray Holiday, son of Sophie Ellis-Bextor to little Mabel Ray, daughter of Bruce Willis.

BRUCE. Speaking of Bruce, here’s the name of a shark from the film. The name is originally a Scottish surname, which is traditionally said to come from Brix, Normandy. However, there’s little evidence to back this up. This name has in the last century or so has picked up a reputation as being an archetypal name for an Australian man.

PEARL. A new darling in the world of baby names, the character Pearl was an octopus in Nemo’s school class. In ancient times, it was believed that pearls were formed by raindrops falling into open shells floating on the sea’s surface. Sweet, huh?

SHELDON. Another classmate of Nemo’s, this time a seahorse. He’s another surname-turned-first name that means valley with the steep sides.

DARLA. The name of the evil neice of the dentist. Darla is normally taken as a variation of Darlene, a name that was first coined in North America near the end of the 19th century and inspired by the word darling.

CORAL. The name of Nemo’s mother and Marlin’s wife, she died in a particularly harrowing scene for it’s classification* at the beginning of the film, which the delightful BBFC decided to call mild peril. The first time I watched that scene, I was in tears and even back then, I rarely cried at and/or about anything. The name Coral is a personal favourite of mine, and it is a type of sensitive marine environment currently at risk.

*Note on Classifications: here in the UK, classifications for films are awarded by the British Board of Film Classification, or the BBFC. The lowest classification that a film can receive (which Finding Nemo was awarded) is U, which stands for universal. The BBFC definition of the U certificate is:

A ‘U’ film should be suitable for audiences aged 4+. The films should be set within a positive moral framework and should offer reassuring counterbalances to any violence, threat or horror.

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Lola Rennt

Lola from

A little while back I had two posts in a row inspired by French cinema. Well, I’m been at the continental films again, but this time it’s a German one. Lola Rennt, released in English as Run Lola Run, is one of the few German films I’ve watched and I love it. Another great thing about it is the opening sequence, which lists out all the names of the characters and the actors – albeit very quickly.

The premise of the film is a near impossbily task: Lola has to find 100,000 deutschmarks in 20 minutes for her boyfriend, Manni, who left a bag full of the original money on a tube train and then a tramp ran off with it. If he doesn’t get the money to bossman Ronnie by noon, he’s in trouble (it’s heavily implied that Ronnie will kill him, but this is relayed to the audience by a hysterical Manni). If you think it may be difficult to elongate a twenty-minute scenario into a film-worthy length, let it be known that the scenario is played out three times, each with wildly different outcomes. The cause of the changes is a youth and his dog on the staircase Lola initially runs down at the start of her sprint from her flat. In the first case the dog growls at her and she speeds up to run past him; in the second case the youth trips her up causing her to leave a few seconds later; in the third case she jumps over the youth/dog combo and thus leaves a few seconds earlier.

The main character of Lola is played by a lady named Franka and her boyfriend Manni is played by a Moritz. The name Lola is the Spanish short-form of Dolores, and is also a Spanish slang word for little girl. Either way, an immediate thought when hearing the name Lola is of the infamous Nabokov novel Lolita.

As for the actress, I’m pretty sure she is just Franka, not Francesca. It rather reminds me of the German name Frauke, which derives from the German word frau, which means female, or indeed Ms, as in, Ms. Smith/ Frau Smith; it doesn’t indicate marital status. Franke is a legit alternative way to spell Frank, and Francis from which many get the name Frank means Frenchman.

Whilst watching it, the name Manni constantly reminded me of the German word for a mobile phone: Mein Handy. It is never touched upon as to whether Manni is his name, or simply a nickname. What’s worth mentioning here is that there is a Norse God of the Moon named Máni, and an Indian male name Mani, which comes from Sanskrit and means jewel. Either way, I’m more likely to lean towards the idea that Manni is short for Manfred, which is an Old German name meaning peaceful man. Of course, Manni could also be short for a name such as Norman, Sherman etc.

Jutta is the mistress of Lola’s father, and in the first two scenarios she bursts in on them whilst they are discussing Jutta’s pregnancy. In the first scenario, Lola’s father is led to believe that the baby is his, whilst it is revealed in the second, thanks to Lola running late, that the baby isn’t actually his. This plays a key role in the dynamics of the characters, and indeed how Lola and her father interact once she arrives on the scene to ask for money from him.

The name Jutta is the German form of the name Judith. It’s a biblical name which means Jewish woman. There is a Book of Judith in the Bible which tells of a female named Judith who spends the night with a disliked man by the name of Holofernes. She then kills him, and using his death to inspire the Israelite troops to victory.

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Au Revoir Les Enfants

Jean and Julien, from

What do you know, a complete drought of French name-related posts and two come along in quick succession. Yesterday we looked at one of my favourite French language films, and this week we’re looking at one based in the same period of French history, and this one is also based in a all-boy boarding school and was released in 1987. It is based on the childhood of the director – Louis Malle.

For me, this film is the origin of my love of the name Quentin, for in French he sounds so much better to my ears – more like CAWN-ten. The main character was called Julien Quentin, and he had an older brother who also attended the school called François. Julien was played by Gaspard Manesse, and the name Gaspard always brings to mind Gaston from Disney classic Beauty and the Beast. His mother was played by actress Francine Racette.

The film revolves around the Nazi occupation of France. The boarding school which Julien attends has taken in a Jewish boy by the name Jean Kippelstein (although renamed Jean Bonnet), a secret revealed by kitchen-hand Joseph to the local Nazis after the school dismisses him when they discover that he was running a black market amongst the boys. This is based on a real-life experience of the director, who also attended a boarding school which took in Jews. Tragically they were discovered and both them and the headmaster ended up at concentration camps.

The name Jacqueline was the name of two minor actresses in the film; I work with a lady named Jacqueline, who more often goes by the name Jacqui. A much disliked ex-politician here in the UK is called Jacqui Smith, famed for her husband’s rather seedy expenses claims. Thanks to Jacqui from work, I actually love the name Jacqui and we used to call my brother this when he was little because his hair grew so quick he looked very feminine for most of his toddler-days. I think this is very much proof that who you know with a name really does have an impact on how you view their name.

Speaking of the names of the actors, a couple of notable surnames amongst the actors which stood out to me are:

  • Genoud
  • Henriet (One part Harriet, one part Henrietta)
  • Rivet

There were some interesting first names used too. I won’t deny that Benoït – the French form of Benedict – is a pet-love of mine. Then there is also the French form of ArnoldArnaud which is pronounced ar-NO and means eagle power. I always think of the 90s cartoon Hey Arnold! and indeed the character Rimmer from Red Dwarf when I hear the name Arnold. With Archie and Alfie so popular here in England&Wales, one does have to wonder as to whether Arnie could follow in their steps. I’d call it a long-shot, but wouldn’t rule it out.

My love for the name Marcel derives from another French-language film: La Gloire de mon père. The main character was a young boy named Marcel, with a brother named Paul. They had a male friend named Lili and a sister whose name was never revealed in the film. However, the film is based on a book by one Marcel Pagnol, which was autobiographical. Alongside real-life brother Paul, Marcel had two other siblings: another brother named René and a sister named Germaine. His mother was called the rather lovely name Augustine.

An interesting point to make with the name Germaine, despite having nothing to do with the main film focus of this post is that she ultimately comes from the Latin name Germanus, which meant brother. This does rather pose the question: if you feminise the name, do you feminise the meaning? This rings home for the name Caroline too, since she’s the feminised form of Charles, a name which means man.

Moving back to the names given to characters, you come across the cutesy Babinot, the rather eyebrow raising Hippolyte and the rather modern sounding Perrin.

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Weekend Post: Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland

Film posted for A in W, from

I love the tale of Alice in Wonderland, and I also happen to love the work of Tim Burton. So it was a dream come true for Tim Burton to remake the classic tale with his own take on the matter. Usually in the world of Alice in Wonderland, the mouse is simple called mouse and so forth, but for the 2010 film, most characters were given names for the first time, which whilst most weren’t well-used during the film, they are all certainly worth noting.

Absolem – The Catterpillar

This name was prominently used in the film, unlike many names on this list. Absolem is a variant of the name Absalom, a name that means my father is peace. We talked about another variant of Absalom this week: Axel.

Bayard – The Bloodhound

Another name that was well-used in the film. Whilst Bayard was clearly male in the film, I have seen people using this as a girls name. The name itself comes from Old French word baiart, meaning bay coloured

Iracebeth – The Red Queen

Iracebeth as a name is a play on the word irascible, a word associated with a quick-tempered persona, much as the one which the Red Queen in the film possessed.

Mirana – The White Queen

In the original novel, published in 1871, the White Queen has a daughter named Lily. Mirana is a variant of the name Mira, which in it’s Slavic capacity means peace. In Sanskrit, Mira means sea, ocean.

Nivens – The White Rabbit

A likely variant of Nevin, which means holy or sacred. The Name Station recently asked whether the name Kevin is one of the world’s most unattractive names.

Thackery – The March Hare

This name means place with thatching. I saw someone describe him as a variant of the name Zachary, and he’s certainly an alternative to him.

Uilleam – The Dodo Bird

Scottish Gaelic version of the popular name William.

Two other interesting names which make an appearance are Ilosovic and Mallymkun – the former is the name of the Knave of Hearts whilst the latter is the name of the doormouse.

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