This review was written by Valery Korneev
Published on December 14, 2000
Russian Star Wars Trilogy
A Shocking Disappointment!
There are HUGE problems with Russian home video release of Star Wars (SW) Trilogy (it was released here on November 28th, 2000). "Laser Video", the company which has rights to publish SW films over here, has truly sabotaged (I can't find another word to describe the situation) the release. Previously, this company brought us Episode 1 - and, although it had some less than perfect traits (I'm not addressing the film, just the technical side of the release), none of those sides were something not to live up with. On the other hand, the quality of the Russian Trilogy is absolutely unbearable, from bottom to top.
Let me get to the point. All three films have received extremely bad translation, which is nowhere close to the original English text. Minor translation mistakes are plainly EVERYWHERE: Rebel fleets are called "squadrons" (?), Star Destroyers have mutated into "Mine-carrying ships" (?!), Wookies are... "monkeys" (sic!), and Banthas are monkeys, and even Rankor is a monkey, too - in the officially licensed Russian version of Return of the Jedi (ROTJ) by "Laser Video" Jabba says: "I'll feed you to my pet monkey!". This is not funny; this is a real tragedy.
When Luke says something like "there's not much to look at - I used to live here, you know", Russian voice actor instead of that says, "we'll fly away from here!". Mistranslated pieces like that litter all three films and, I may say, spoil the experience by altering original director's and screenwriter's ideas. On the back side of the film's box, Han Solo's name is written in Russian as "Han", but all voice actors clearly pronounce it as "Gan" (with a very definite "G"). Why? Translators were given too much freedom, I guess.
Adding to the already established chaos are differences with the translation of Episode 1 (which was made under Lucasfilm supervision). For example, the Sith in Russian dubbing of Phantom Menace were pronounced as "Sitkhi" (and everyone here grew accustomed to such pronunciation), but in Ep.4-6 they are pronounced as "Sity", which sounds entirely different, and naturally confuses all viewers leaving everyone to guess who these "Sity" are.
Another key word of Star Wars universe - Jedi - sounds a bit different: in Episode 1. It was "dzhEdai" (with key sound being "e"), and here it is "dzhedAi" (strike on "ai"). Little kids started to struggle about the correct pronunciation... Most of the names, i.e. Coruscant, Bespin, Endor, names of the races like Wookies, Ewoks and all others - are strangely avoided, leaving the translation simply blank, empty and lacking the substance. Without a picture on your screen you couldn't tell that you are watching Star Wars - literally!
Then there comes another major disappointment. There is no dubbing as we know it. Instead, the volume of the original English soundtrack is toned down a little bit every time when Russian voice actor has to read his or her lines - all with English voices present in the background! There are total of four actors (yes, FOUR: three male, one female) who provide voices to all characters of Star Wars, Empire and Jedi. It is just weird to hear one actor speak for C3PO and Luke in the same dialogue! It's not only strange to hear, but it also ruins Dolby Surround sound (Russian voices are recorded in monaural sound and are waaay louder than everything else), and lets everyone who knows both languages instantly spot the poor quality of the local translation.
It is really sad, but judging from this release I assure you: people who did the translation have seen Star Wars films for the first time - and did not even try to bring the lines close to English. Instead, they did quite the opposite: produced a free interpretation of the original, excluding all interesting details and nuances. Oh, don't even ask about the subtitles (when aliens speak) - no one bothered to make them.
Many people here started to call this release a "robbery", because it is quite an expensive purchase, but also a very low-quality one. Premiere Russian online retailer, Ozon, has made a page where everyone who bought the Trilogy can leave their comments - and it is full of angry posts from people who blame the translation and voice-over quality. If you have someone who reads Russian, you can check it out here.
The prevailing motive - "we've expected to see a quality release of our loved films in our native language - but what we got in the end is a biggest disappointment of the holiday season.". Sadly, I have to join, too. It is a mystery for me, how Mr. Lucas could let a Star Wars license slip into the hands of such a company as "Laser-Video"... I still hope that something can be done - it is very disturbing to see how a vast Russian market is filled with such a COMPLETELY RUINED version of a sci-fi classic.
Was Lucasfilm wise to not supervise the Russian release of the Trilogy, allowing "Laser Video" to ruin the release for many Russian Star Wars fans? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also tell us what you think and read comments from other fans in this Jedi Council Forum Thread.