Curious Moments of Interpretation

Soviet filmmakers made several excellent movies, based on works of Mark Twain and O. Henry. Wonderful television films «Приключения Тома Сойера и Гекльберри Финна» (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, 1981, directed by Stanislav Govorukhin) and «Трест, который лопнул» (The Trust That Has Burst, 1982, directed by Alexander Pavlovsky), released by Odessa Film Studios (Ukraine), have enjoyed huge success among Soviet and post-Soviet audiences.

But, as in any big production, some lapses were inevitable. The fence-whitewashing episode contains obscene «Sid=shit» in chalk. Another funny detail: the portrait of George Washington on a classroom’s wall carries inscription – «The Father of Our State». Obviously, the film’s Russian-speaking creators didn’t make difference between «state» (part) and «country» (whole) in American usage, because «state» (in British and international usage) and «country» in Russian are, as a rule, designated by one noun – «страна» (strana). Moreover, the Soviet Tom writes a note to Becky: «Take is please. I have come…» As a tribute to another Twain’s masterpiece, there is The Jumping Frog Hotel in the film.

In the adaptation of O. Henry’s collection The Gentle Grafter, fewer mistakes were made. The one I have detected is a sign «Attention! The jury pennal is working». Of course, they must have written «panel» instead of «pennal».

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