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|Born||Dmitry Yuryevich Puchkov
August 2, 1961
Kirovograd, Ukrainian SSR
|Other names||Goblin, Starshiy Operupolnomocheniy|
|Known for||translations, books, games, magazine articles|
Dmitry Yuryevich Puchkov (Russian: Дмитрий Юрьевич Пучков; born August 2, 1961), also known as Goblin and Starshiy Operupolnomocheniy Goblin, is an English-to-Russian movie and video game translator, script-writer, and author. His alternative voice-over translations of famous Hollywood movies are widely known both for their perceived profanity and humour. Puchkov's translation of the Russian gangster film Bumer is his only work on Russian movies and was the last "alternative dubbing" of his studio Bozhya Iskra. Puchkov is also a popular blogger and film reviewer.
He was born August 2, 1961 in Kirovograd, USSR. Puchkov was known by the nickname Goblin or Starshiy operupolnomochenniy Goblin (Senior Operative Agent Goblin) years before he became popular as a film translator. At the time of his earliest public works, he worked as a police detective for the Militsiya. Because of a newspaper article titled "Goblins in Militsiya Overcoats" that rebuked the corruption of the Militsiya staff, Puchkov and his workmates began to call each other "goblins" in irony.
Puchkov started using the pen-name Goblin while sharing his experience in PC-games-oriented magazines when writing about the computer game Quake. He started a personal website called Goblin's Dead End (Tynu40k Goblina), which focused on Quake. Puchkov became a popular commentator among the Quake community, but he remained virtually unknown of otherwise.
His book Dungeon Cleaners (Санитары подземелий) was published in 1999, and became an Internet bestseller, and quickly sold out. Loosely based on the game concept, the book later became the basis for Dungeon Cleaners, the strategic role-playing computer game by 1C and Skyfallen Entertainment. The game is now in production, and the official website names Puchkov as creator of the game's concept and virtual world.
Puchkov studied English at the Militsya House of Culture for two years, but is otherwise self-taught as a translator. His first film translation was completed during the Perestroika period, when Western productions were first introduced to Soviet viewers.
'At that time I already had certain knowledge in English. The quantity of untranslated phrases and obvious bloopers irritated me from the very beginning. And at that time I already wanted to make translation thoroughly, in other words do it the way a good film deserves.'
The first films he translated were Carlito's Way in 1995, and shortly after Aliens, Once Upon a Time in the West, and Last Action Hero. All of these translations were made for a small circle of friends and were never publicly released, but since the process of dubbing by means of the VCR was not complicated, the translations became widely known and distributed.
The development of the DVD format revived Puchkov's interest in translating movies, and his works became known to a larger public audience. Translated tracks of the movies could be downloaded at no charge as mp3 files (includes only voice of Goblin, without original sound of the movie) from Puchkov's website. He named his studio Full P (полный Пэ, Пэ in this context stands for the curse word пиздец, the phrase roughly translates to "complete fuck-up") and designed a logo, which, being stamped on every translation DVD, CD or video cassette, became a recognizable label.
Puchkov is known as a strong advocate of quality translation, and opposes the practice of literal interpretation of movies, which has become commonplace in Russia. His position is that precise translation backed by thorough research and identification of Russian equivalents in cases of lexical gaps should be the product provided to Russian aficionados of foreign films. Puchkov maintains lists of gaffes made by other film translators.
In contrast to the films officially released in Russia, which are in most cases fully dubbed with multiple voices and complete deletion of the original language, all of Puchkov's translations are single-voiced—both female and male voices are read by Puchkov himself and issued as voiceover, allowing the original soundtrack to be heard. Puchkov contends that this provides a more authentic product, closer to what the director originally intended. Puchkov's works feature an approach in which every line is translated properly and never deleted, and in which the style of language and speech is made as close to an original as possible. Word play and other figures of speech are translated to appropriate forms found in Russian.
Another important highlight of Puchkov's work is the translation of English expletives to Russian expletives. Original dialogue containing words and expressions usually censored on American public television channels, are left intact in Puchkov's dialogue translations.
The official Russian dub of foreign films is commonly stripped of all profanities by the studios, a practice which not only waters down the director's vision but also confuses the audience, as colorful colloquial expressions are lost in the word-for-word translation, bearing little similarity with the original. Goblin's use of semantic translation prevents important plot points from becoming distorted, as villains unintentionally are transformed into comical characters when the official profanity free Russian dub fails to convey the original meaning.
There are several widely known funny examples of this softened translations, like this dialogue in Commando:
— Fuck you! Asshole! — Прощайся с жизнью! (Say "good bye" to your life!)
— Fuck YOU! Asshole! — Это ты прощайся с жизнью! (Say "good bye" to your life yourself!)
The usage of obscene words did lead to controversy amongst Russian viewers. Some viewers particularly reject the usage of obscene slang in the translations. Russian mat is a patois language, based on the use of specific generally unprintable obscene words. It is not just slang, as thought of in the common sense. It is as an entire "slang" language, composed only of obscene words. Because of this, some Russian-speakers believe that obscenities in the Russian language are much stronger, and more vulgar in comparison to individual obscene words used in other languages.
Puchkov's contention is that people who think that the usage of mat is inappropriate don't understand the differences between the development of Western and Soviet/Post-soviet cinema industries. During the Soviet Union period, the usage of obscene words was strictly banned, while in the Western World, the appearance of vulgar and coarse speech in books and movies gradually became more accepted by the society as freedom of expression. For this reason, Puchkov has called himself a pioneer in his FAQ.
Dmitry Buzadzhi, a Russian language translator, does contend that the quality of Puchkov's own translations is rather mediocre, notwithstanding his supposedly thorough approach. Specifically, he sometimes misses some of the finer nuances of the piece's style. Nevertheless, his translations appeal to audiences for their strong individual style and expression (even when ill-placed).
Favorite movie translation genres
Puchkov's life's experiences influenced his tastes in films, and he largely translated gangster, war, and action films. His experience in the militsya and army make the speech of military men, cops and bandits sound more vivid and true to life in his translations.
The list of his translated movies now exceeds 70 and includes: Aliens, Blade, The Boondock Saints, Dead Alive, Dead Man, From Dusk Till Dawn, Kill Bill. volume 1, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, Platoon, Predator, Pulp Fiction, Snatch and many more.
Puchkov also translates cartoons and thinks his best work was his translation of South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. Other cartoon translations are: Shrek, Shrek 2, The Incredibles, Ice Age, Chicken Run.
Since film translation is a hobby for Puchkov, he translates only those films that he is interested in and does not receive any money for his translations. However, due to his popularity, he receives commercial offers from licensed foreign movie distributors in Russia to translate movies that are screened in theatres and aired on TV. The list of his commercial translations includes: Team America: World Police, South Park, The Sopranos, the funny translation of Bumer produced in cooperation with the makers of the original, and others.
The latest work in this field is Guy Ritchie's RocknRolla. This time, distributors contracted Puchkov to do a translation for the dub, with himself voice-acting the narrator, Archy. At the premiere Puchkov himself read a non-censored, voiceover translation; in theaters, a somewhat milder version was shown.
In addition to his film translation, he also made several commercial translations of computer games, including Odium, Serious Sam, Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project, and Bumer: Sorvannye bashni (Bumer: Blown Away Towers).
Another important facet of his translation works are his so-called "funny translations", which are parodies of awkward translations presented at the Russian movie market, where characters apparently speak quite differently from how they spoke in the original films. The discrepancy between "funny-translated" and original film creates a strong comic effect. Moreover, changing the names of characters, music, and adding new video and sound effects can turn a serious movie into a true slapstick comedy. "Funny-translated" films often skewer prominent world and Russian events (including social and political life) and contain references to well-known American, Soviet and current Russian films. Puchkov's "funny-translations" come with the logo of another of Puchkov's studios, Bozhya Iskra (God's Spark). All funny translations are made with the help of Puchkov's site visitors and their names appear at the end of the movie in a cast section.
|Original title||Name in Russian||English translation|
|The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring||ВК: Братва и Кольцо||LotR: The Fellas (Mob) and the Ring (the word "Fellas" is a common idiom for the Russian mob, and mobsters specifically - roughly equivalent to the use of "the boys" in an old American mob film)|
|The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers||ВК: Две сорванные башни||LotR: the Two Blown Away (Stolen) Towers ("tower blown away" is a common Russian idiom meaning "off the kilter", "crazy and dangerous", "tower" standing for head or brain).|
|The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King||ВК: Возвращение Бомжа||LotR: The Return of the Hobo (the Hobo as a title for Aragorn character is taken from the earlier humorous translations, taking into account Aragorn's wandering nature).|
|The Matrix||Шматрица||The Shmatrix (after a trans-language Yiddish practice of jokingly rhyming the source word with a «sh-» equivalent; in Soviet practice it was commonly associated not with Jews, but with strong-accented Caucasus natives).|
|Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace||Звёздные войны: Буря в Стакане||Star Wars: Storm in the Glass (Idiomatically: Star Wars: Tempest in a Teapot)|
The Lord of the Rings translations were adapted by Goblin into two books containing much of the humor of the translated films. A Computer game The Fellas and the Ring has also been developed by Gaijin Entertainment and published in Russia by 1C. The game allows the player to choose one of seven characters and play through 12 levels slashing through enemies equipped with weapons ranging from knives to flamethrowers.
On 15 February 2008, The Truth About 9th Company documentary computer game was officially launched. Puchkov has proved himself as the ideological leader and inspirer of the development of this project, which was announced as the response to "the intentional destruction of historical memory of the people".
Puchkov was brought up in the family of an army officer who traveled a great deal around the country. He studied at six different schools, including a boarding school, and finished his 10th grade in the German Democratic Republic. He served in the army, where he was employed as a military driver and operated a truck; he also received basic tank driver training. He retired from his work in the Militsiya in 1998 after working there for 6 years.
He has also worked as a librarian, truck driver, air compressor operator, automobile mechanic, plumber, driller assistant, electrician, polisher, turner, metal smith, cab driver, masseur, police canine handler, criminal investigator and sales manager.
He is married and has an adult son, though he avoids speaking of his family in public in order to "keep business to business and personal to personal". His son, a successful businessman, avoids saying that his father is the famous Goblin for the same reason. He currently lives in Saint Petersburg and is working as a freelance translator, participating in projects he is interested in.
Puchkov is an avid reader and maintains a large personal library.
- Schreck, Carl (2003-07-29). "Goblin Makes Case Against Demonizing Expletives" (PDF). The St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2007-03-16.
- Liakhovich, Oleg (2005). "Elves and Goblins of Russian Translation". The Moscow News. Retrieved 2007-03-16.
- Puchkov, Dmitry (June 14, 2003). "Вопросы Goblinу про переводы фильмов" (in Russian). Oper.ru. Retrieved 2009-12-27.
- Buzadzhi, Dmitry (March 13, 2006). "Герой безрыбья" (in Russian). KpNemo. Archived from the original on April 30, 2008.
- "The Truth About 9th Company" official web site
- Puchkov, Dmitry (August 2, 2006). "Про 45 лет" (Russian). Oper.ru. Retrieved 2009-12-27.
- Tynu40k Goblina (Russian)
- Dungeon Cleaners official site (Russian)
- The Fellas and the Ring game official site (Russian)
- The Union of Orthodox citizens proposes the fundraising for the funny translation of The Da Vinci Code (Russian)
- A collection of Puchkov's quotes sorted by categories (Russian)
- About Goblin (Russian)