Spies in Translation: Russian in The Americans
Posted Mar 20, 2013 @ 10:40 AM
I think we could also include nods to Russian Culture--like that tea Phillip offers Elizabeth when they first meet, the vodka shots and caviar they share in private.
Celebrate the Motherland and Mothertongue here!
Posted Mar 20, 2013 @ 11:42 AM
Posted Mar 26, 2013 @ 11:33 PM
Nina is fluent in Russian. Her former boss is not a native speaker, but he gets the intonations right. I thought maybe he was Serbian or Bulgarian.
Most of the guys from the Russian embassy sound like Russians that lived in U.S. for a long time.
The subtitles are not always word for word, but the meaning doesn't change.
I always cringe when tv shows have "Russian" characters. They usually dress the actors a la Russian villager circa 1976, and the actors generally sound like a cross between Dracula and Boris (Rocky and Bullwinkle).
I work in tv, and many many times had to facepalm whenever we were shooting anything to do with Russia. I'm usually pretty good at calling that stuff out though.
"No, Yvshn is not a real Russian first name", "No, we don't always wear kerchiefs on our heads" lol
Often there is no language coach on set either.
Another spy show "Spooks" had a lot of Russian spies in it, and they failed miserably. The accents were completely off. Any time anything written in Russian was on the screen in was laughable, and the Russian characters were unbelievable.
This show gets it right more or less.
Posted Mar 27, 2013 @ 10:50 AM
I can't imagine trying to pull off a show like this without trying to get this right. It's so tied to all the central themes of the show. Even if Matthew Rhys isn't capable of speaking Russian correctly (apparently a joke between him and his publicist who is Russian and tells him just how terrible it is) I'm thrilled that they're committed enough to seriously try it. (I would have also accepted dubbing him with a native Russian speaker, but if they're doing it this way I just want him to improve.)
Posted Mar 27, 2013 @ 5:01 PM
I enjoy that the Rezidentura is full of real speakers. It really is a lovely language to listen to.
Posted Mar 28, 2013 @ 9:58 AM
Posted Mar 28, 2013 @ 10:13 AM
Posted Mar 28, 2013 @ 10:36 AM
But it's been years since I read that book...I could be totally wrong. But I remember reading that and thinking it was odd. (Especially when I was raised in a home where, if my mother started calling me by my first and middle names it meant I was in big trouble.)
Posted Mar 31, 2013 @ 7:41 PM
I'm in no way an expert, but I assume Vasili Nicolaevich is his first name and his middle name, I think called a patronymic? Probably spelling that wrong. The middle name is always the name of the father with a suffix. So I assumed that it was a level of formality. Like for the most respect you use first name and patronymic, then first name, then a nickname, which would have different varieties depending on what you're saying? Mostly I know Russian names are really complicated. And there's probably a level up from that where you're saying the equivalent of "Mr. Whatever his last name is."
This is correct. Contemporary Russian doesn't use "Mr." or "Mrs." -- the formal way of addressing your superior or someone unfamiliar to you is to use First Name + Patronymic.
vadare, you've got it backwards :) -- familiarity in Russian is indeed indicated by using a nickname. There are even degrees of familiarity in nicknames, where there is a "standard" nickname and then more affectionate or also dismissive/insulting nicknames. You could hear it in the sixth episode when young Misha (the nickname for Mikhail) called Irina by the affectionate nickname Irisha. The standard nickname for Irina is Ira, and a dismissive nickname would be Irka. You also hear Vasili Nikolaevich call Nina "Ninochka" (an affectionate nickname).
The wiki entry on Russian personal names goes into a lot more detail.
Edited by Uranium, Mar 31, 2013 @ 7:44 PM.
Posted Apr 1, 2013 @ 9:42 PM
Posted Apr 2, 2013 @ 10:32 PM
Posted Apr 3, 2013 @ 6:29 AM
Posted Apr 3, 2013 @ 10:02 AM
Posted Apr 7, 2013 @ 8:57 PM
Posted Apr 7, 2013 @ 11:00 PM
I was hoping for just a one line something or other in Russian when Liz called Arkady. It wouldn't have to be anything super complicated, just something that could be memorized phonetically.
I mean, if this born and bred Arkansan (i.e., me) can speak Russian with a totally passable (by no means native), not horrendous accent, I should think professional actors should be able to memorize a few lines of dialogue.
I guess we'll just have to see, though.
Oh, and for the record, Granny doesn't need to be one of those who speaks any Russian ever; her mangling of Nadezhda was all my poor language-loving ears could take.
Posted Apr 8, 2013 @ 6:41 AM
Posted Apr 8, 2013 @ 9:12 AM
Posted Apr 9, 2013 @ 11:37 AM
Posted Apr 19, 2013 @ 11:09 AM
That said, I am very impressed with how they are handling the scenes in Russian and the general portrayal of Russianness. They obviously have Russian or fluent speakers writing the Russian segments of the script. And the research they have done is wonderful. So far, everything I have seen (almost) jibes with what I know of the Soviet system. (My family and I moved to the US in 1989.) Nina's early story rings particularly true - business trips to the Western world were always seen as an amazing opportunity to make extra money from either bringing stuff back (back there, cheap Western goods sold for a huge premium; until I was older, I always thought the word "imported" was a synonym for "excellent") or turning some illegal exportation scheme like she was doing. Overall, I really enjoy watching this show; I think it is the most accurate portrayal of Russians that I have ever seen in American media.