Elki / Six Degrees of Celebration

Russia’s Top Movies: December 2010

Published: December 30, 2010

Like most places in the world, Russia’s silver screens are dominated by Hollywood’s global blockbusters. Russia’s film industry has struggled with the financial crisis, but is also capable of producing films that can occasionally compete locally with the American machine. Once a month, SRAS provides a lineup of the top five movies in Russia by box office take—with the official Russian-language trailers from YouTube and, for those Russian films on the list, links to our Russian film site.

Below are films listed with their English and Russian titles (note that they differ sometimes), as well as how much the film has earned over the calendar month.


1. Гарри Поттер и Дары смерти. Часть 1—Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—$25.4m

The word “hallows” comes from a Middle English word meaning “holy.” However, to translate “Deathly Hallows” directly into modern Russian, it would become “Смертельные Святые” (Deathly Saints/Icons). The Russian phrase, rather than calling up associations with the West’s playful Halloween, calls up associations with cults and the truly macabre (think Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebration each year) and potentially even the blasphemous. Thus the title has been changed somewhat, to “Дары смерти,” or “The Gifts of Death.” “Дар” is an older and more literary word than the more modern and common “подарок.” “Дар” also has religious connotations. For example, the bread and wine given at sacrament are called “освященные дары” (the blessed gifts). Thus, the translation keeps the basic tone and associations of the original, even if it exchanges “Hallows” for “Gifts.”



2. Рапунцель: Запутанная история—Tangled—$22.5m 

“Tangled” in Russian can be easily rendered as “запутанный.” This can encompass tangled hair (запутанные волосы), tangled thoughts (запутанные мысли), or a tangled story (запутанная история). The decision to change and elongate the name was probably mostly due to marketing plans—the Russian distributors wanted the iconic lead character in the title so that the film’s plot is immediately clear without needing a significant advertising campaign to clarify it.


3.  Хроники Нарнии: Покоритель ЗариThe Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader—$17.6m

“Покоритель” in Russian is perhaps a bit stronger than the English “treader.” While the English word can have strong connotations (“don’t tread on me”) it can also conjure images of someone simply walking. “Покоритель” is usually rendered in English as “conqueror” or “subjugator,” although it can also mean simply “explorer.” The most interesting note about this translation is that it has become shorter—completely eliminating “The Voyage” from the title. Perhaps this is because the Russian “покоритель” has stronger implications of visiting foreign lands and far away places than “treader” does in English. The choice of “заря” is also worth mentioning. While “dawn” in English is usually translated as the more commonly used “рассвет” in Russian, “заря” is much more poetic and actually refers more to the color and quality of light that occurs just at daybreak.


4. ЁлкиChristmas Trees—$12.4m 



5. Трон: Наследие—Tron: Legacy—$7.3m 

For Tron, the translation here is quite straightforward. “Наследие” means “legacy” or “inheritance”—perhaps calling more attention to the father-son relationship in the film. The major difference in viewing this film for Russian audiences is that most of them never saw the original—or played the early video games, both of which came out in the early 1980s, while the Iron Curtain was still up.  

About the author

Josh Wilson

Josh has lived in Moscow since 2003, when he first arrived to study Russian with SRAS. He holds an M.A. in Theatre and a B.A. in History from Idaho State University, where his masters thesis was written on the political economy of Soviet-era censorship organs affecting the stage. At SRAS, Josh assists in program development and leads our Home and Abroad Programs. He is also the editor-in-chief for the SRAS newsletter, the SRAS Family of Sites, and Vestnik. He has previously served as Communications Director to Bellerage Alinga and has served as a consultant or translator to several businesses and organizations with interests in Russia.

Program attended: SRAS Staff Member

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