This post is a promised continuation of the Crime Scene Investigation. Russian Mafia. The focus, however, will be shifted from movie reviews to nit-picking.
It’s a tedious task, primarily because is has to do with laughably ridiculous Russian inscriptions in American films. It’s not easy to explain just how ridiculous and why it’s so laughable. Russians, naturally, need no explanation. A few dozen of these “pearls” have been posted on various sites, such as this one Русские надписи в американских фильмах.
This is the Russian passport of Jason Bourne, otherwise baffled by his identity. He doesn’t have to be baffled anymore. His name is Ashchf Lshtshfum. Seriously. If he looks only at the right side of his “Russian” passport, he might introduce himself as FOMA KINIAEV. FOMA KINIAEV, a rather unlikely name very likely to raise a few bushy Russian eyebrows. Still, it’s kind’a sort’a sounds remotely Russian or at least pseudo-Russian. Written in Russian, FOMA KINIAEV should look like ФОМА КИНИАЕВ — a rather simple transliteration, letter for letter.
What do we see on the Russian side of his document? Practically unpronounceable ЛШТШФУМ AЩЬФ, which, in transliteration, is equally unpronounceable ASHCHF LSHTSHFUM. Well, hello, sweet prince! With the name like this, any CIA super-agent is simply asking for a failed mission. Unless, of course, he has been trained in Hollywood.
In the Terminal (2004), an eastern traveler from fictional Krakozhia, Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks), arrives at New York’s JFK airport… only to find that his passport is suddenly no longer valid. In the movie, the reason for this misfortune is the outbreak of a civil war in his homeland. As a result, the United States no longer recognizes Krakozhia as a sovereign nation. Poor guy is not permitted to either enter the country or return home.
However, let’s take a look at Mr. Navorski’s travel documents. In all appearances, it’s a Belorussian driver license of a female person Гульнара Гулина, that should’ve been transliterated as Gulnara Gulina, NOT Victor Navorski. No wonder there is no country for the guy!
That is, Bulgaria stands for Russia in this movie. And it shows. Народен Театър Иван Вазов is a real place, but nowhere near Russia. It’s an Ivan Vazov National Theatre in Sofia.
Here, fictional MI6 agent James Bond happen to visit a no less fictional Russia. In the huge letters on the doors of the embassy, in fictional Russian, there are two words. If my imagination doesn’t deceive me, these words meant to mean PUSH and PULL for the weak-eyed MI6 agents.
ДЕРГАТ and ДИХАТ is what is actually written. The misspelled first word, given the corrected spelling, could mean JERK. The second word is made up of 5 letters. Put together, they have no discernible meaning. Bond — James Bond was a real clever chap. He pushed when it came to shove. But, honestly, if he were fluent in Russian, he wouldn’t know what to do with that bloody door. Well, that’s from Russia with Love for you.
Russians have several explanation, often contradictory, of why Hollywood does what it does.
- Filmmakers cut corners and didn’t want to hire Russian-speaking consultants: Hollywood knows how to make money and how to count it. If corners can be cut without much damage to the product, corners will be cut. Not hiring Russian actor to play Russian character, and forfeit the services of Russian editors… Most of it could be explained by the fact that these films weren’t intended for distribution in Russia.
- Americans have no respect to other cultures and disregard feelings of non-Americans;
- The hired Russian consultants did it on purpose because they hate Russia and Russians.
- Filmmakers did it on purpose, out of spite and disregard for Russians;
- Spelling mistakes and stylistic fuckups, rather than being a profound manifestation of the lack of professionalism is, quite to the contrary, an elaborate strategy of psychological warfare: Russia means so little to us, we are too lazy to spend money on correct translation.
However, nowadays, rare movie, particularly mega-blockbusters, escapes being shown in Russia. Much to the chagrin of the Russian moviegoers, blunders and bungling happen even in hundred million dollar Hollywood blockbusters.
Whatever… And lastly,