Bashing Bond’s Russian translation

kvant-miloserdiyaMy review of the Russian version of “Quantum of Solace” won’t go any further than the title.

For one thing, I missed the beginning, since I had to sit through far too much of the abysmal Russian slapstick drama “Technology” before we could snatch a seat on the sly in the supposedly “sold-out” Bond flick 20 minutes late.

But more importantly, the Russian translation of the film’s title is “Квант Милосердия”, or “Quantum of Mercy,” which boggles even the most popcorn- and beer-dulled mind (you have to love how they sell beer in Russian movie theaters).  One Russian online forum post argued that this translation “sounds flashier” and “the meaning doesn’t suffer” because of it, but this explanation holds up like an ice-cream cone on hot asphalt.  Russian friends and teachers are as baffled as I am.

It’s not like there isn’t a perfectly good Russian translation of “solace”; “consolation” is the only definition listed for “утешение” in my dictionary, which is a fine word according to all concerned.  And it’s not like the original title doesn’t fit; Bond spends more of the film looking for a little bit of consolation after true love Vesper Lynd’s death in the last film, whether he’s banging hot redheads, bagging baddies, or leaving the villain to his death with a can of oil in the middle of the desert.  None of the actions exactly smack of mercy.

— By the way, the chick in the last film was named “Vesper Lynd”!?  Even with the giant strides “Casino Royale” made, apparently it still couldn’t touch the tradition of horrendous names for the female leads (“Christmas Jones,” anyone?). —

Anyway, I don’t know who the Russian film translation guru is, or what delusions of grandeur or illicit substances are making his brain squirm in the old cranium cage, but this has got to stop.

I mean, cut it out already with this habit of messing with film titles in some sort of vain attempt to encapsulate the message of the film. For example, the Russian translation of the 2005 “Chronicles of Narnia” film was “The Lion, the Witch and the Magic Wardrobe.”  Sure, it’s not technically inaccurate, but it makes it sound like I’m about to watch a stoner flick, rather than the film adaptation of a classic piece of literature.

Speaking of which, “Pineapple Express” in Russian became “Pineapple Express: I Sit, I Smoke.”  As if I didn’t think a film by Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow wasn’t going to feature such themes.

Likewise, “Cloverfield” became “Monster.”  Again, accurate, but completely banal.  Oddly enough, Will Smith’s “Hancock” remained unchanged, unless you count the fact that Russians pronounced the word with a heavy Cyrillic “Х” (“kh”).

Can’t a film title be ambiguous?  This isn’t the Soviet Union anymore; you don’t have to hit everyone over the head with the official message anymore …

Unfortunately, the damage has been wrought: Multitran now includes “solace” as a definition for “милосердие,” citing the film.


6 Responses to “Bashing Bond’s Russian translation”

  1. Квант Милосердия sounds familiar to the Russia ear, as it echoes Эра Милосердия, a famous novel by Vayner brothers that is the basis of a very popular TV serial (with Vladimir Vysocky as the main protagonist).

    By the way, apparently Daniel Craig didn’t want to do stunts personally so they hired a Russian stun-man Markus Ivanov, which is first time ever that Jame Bond doesn’t do his own stunts .

    Going to watch the movie tonight.

  2. Good point; not even my Russian literature professor mentioned the Vayner brothers when I asked her about the new title. But even if it is pleasing to the ear, “mercy” gives it a different spin than “solace.” Decide how merciful you think Bond is after you see it.

  3. In fact, the Russian great TV serial with Vladimir Vysitskij starring and shot after Vainers’ novel “Ера милосердия” was named “Место встречи изменить нельзя” = “The Place of Meeting is not to be changed”.
    The mane problem of English-into-Russian film translations is a factor of time: they should be made faster (and cheeper) – and this is the result.

  4. good

  5. Continue to keep working marvelous job!

  6. Интересно. А информацию не с ЖЖ случайно взяли? 🙂

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