Recent Discussion

🡨 Previous | Next 🡪

Comment on The Tale of Igor's Campaign (1972)

>Funny saying that, Ukrainian persons would probably be very upset if they read your translation with Russian-style places.

The translation isn't mine - it was done in 1981 and I link to the source in the description. I don't generally like to change another professional translator's word choices (particularly if it would cause a change in the number of syllables or the word endings) unless I have a good reason, and you have to do it carefully. It can cause all kinds of literary side effects.

Also, I haven't checked all of them, but the two other English translations I've looked at (by Vladimir Nabokov and Leonard Magnus) also use "Russia". Maybe the avoidance of "Russia" in English before a certain time period is a newer trend that wasn't around when those translations were done? I'm not really sure.

Replies: >>5

Comment on The Tale of Igor's Campaign (1972)

Hanoi is unusually cold in the middle of summer, so I have many opportunities to translate some difficult documents like this, but I did not expect it to take three days to complete. I also found you an English text, but it still does not seem to match the text you provided. Here, I was just changing "Russia" to "Rus" and related adjectives, mostly just about timing (my experience is, each sentence should be spaced at least 100 seconds - if we are lazy, otherwise 500 is best ; in your translation and Uncle Eus there are some jumbled lines on the screen). Funny saying that, Ukrainian persons would probably be very upset if they read your translation with Russian-style places. :D Our Vietnamese language has undergone colonization, so today we can write foreign nouns according to foreign standards without needing separate ones like Russian, English and Chinese. Also, there seems to be a sentence that still has the word "daleko" (far), but I have not found it yet, maybe you should check it again.

Replies: >>4

Comment on The Tale of Igor's Campaign (1972)

>The English translation has some typographical and time errors, it should be very fixed.
Do you mean the very latest subtitles? I fixed a whole bunch of typographical and timing errors last autumn - please tell me where you see any left and I'll correct them.
It is indeed difficult to have the context for a document from over 800 years ago. I think the English translation does a pretty good job, all things considered. What are some errors you had to fix in the Vietnamese ones?

As far as the film goes, I mostly like it but I think that the decision to show events (and read the text) out of order was a mistake.

Replies: >>3

Comment on The Tale of Igor's Campaign (1972)

This is an excellent work of Ukrainian cinema what based on the traditional art of lacquer. The English translation has some typographical and time errors, it should be very fixed. In Vietnamese alone, there are three translations, but the quality is poor because the translators lack cultural connotations. So I have to edit it !

Replies: >>2

Comment on Dragon (1961)


In the subconscious of Southeast Asian people, the dragon (龍) is a very sacred animal and often symbolizes water which is the main element of the agricultural civilization. Of course, dragons are only fiction, but it is often associated with the crocodiles. I have watched many Western films about Asian culture, then I must say, most of the interpretation of dragons was very clumsy and different from the local beliefs. The latest film - Raya and the Last Dragon, fortunately, is more positive, because the scriptor is a Vietnamese-American man. However, since he has lived in the US since his childhood and was also hardly familiar with traditional culture of East Asia, he basically followed the familiar formula of American cinematographers : East Asia, Southeast Asia or Asia in general means only bamboo trees, red furnitures, chopsticks, conical hats, or eyelids... :D In fact, East Asians rarely used red paint, because the sun was bright all year round ; we also used spoons, forks, knives when eating, even bare hands ; especially, we also have blue or brown eyes, even blond hair (like myself), and very large eyelids. Occasionally it also snows in this area, and of course we also have some similar trees in the polar climate as : Pine, cedrus, fir, strawberry, cauliflower... Our forest just can not grow birch, and streams can not feed crayfish, because these are creatures harmful to the native. There is a very special point, because the rugged terrain of Southeast Asia is quite similar to Greece and Italy, so this area does not have horses and foxes. Southeast Asian horses have existed in history, but only as small as mules ; in the past, kings who wanted to have horsemen had to buy horses in Yunnan or India where there were very big and strong horses. "Foxes" in Southeast Asia are really just jackals, but also very few. In return, Southeast Asian elephants and tigers are invincible in all animals ; the kings of India and Southeast Asia even built arenas for lions, tigers and elephants to fight. In addition, Southeast Asia also has almost no predatory birds as buzzard, eagle, hawk, kestrel... luckily only seagulls. The nature of ancient Southeast Asia was toxic because of its abundance of snakes, the abundance of crocodiles, and the proliferation of insects. Film "Dragon" also partly reflected this nature.

Talking about the Southeast Asian worldview, the dragon is considered a mascot (or even ancestor), and because it symbolizes water, the dragon's scales are usually blue or black, of course never green. In the legend of the founding from the Vietnamese folks, hero Lạc-Long-Quân ("dragon king") cut a very ferocious giant fish into three pieces to form three locations where the people would live. At the beginning of the 15th century, an official named Nguyễn Trãi was composing a book "Lam Sơn thực lục" (藍山實錄, "true records on K'lam mountain"), said that :

When Lê Lợi was not yet king, he picked up the hilt of a sword on a high branch (which represented the element "earth" | đất), at the same time, his general named Lê Thận while fishing, caught a blade with the inscription "Will of Heaven" (順天). Here, Lê Thận was originally a fisherman, so he picked up his sword in the river which were synonymous with "water" (nước). So in Vietnamese colloquial language, "đất nước" means "country". This mythical event was intended to strengthen the legitimacy of emperor Lê Thái Tổ whom was originally a mountain leader (similar to cases of Alaric, Charlemagne, Attila, Grimaldi or Napoleon). I also have to explain more that, the blade is "linga" and the hilt of sword means "yoni" - when they are combined, the meaning is "universe" or the world. According to the ancient concept, when you have the support of "heaven-earth-human", then you have the whole world, so you are the king.

And the story of the king returning the sword to Golden Shell to form "Lake of the Returned Sword" (hồ Hoàn Kiếm) of modern Hanoi, there are two versions : Around the 18th century, writers simply said that the king took his sword and threw into the water to scare one turtle away ; however, around the beginning of the twentieth century, when compiling "Manuels de lecture en quoc-van, ou Langue indigène", scholars have said otherwise that, the golden turtle surfaced to ask for the sword back, so the king put the sword in its mouth to return the aquarium. Because to this short essay, the legend really became famous, because it contained the meaning of educating Vietnamese children about citizenship who would grow up to be revolutionaries. As early as a few years ago, I thought that this new version was an imitation of the motif "Excalibur" from the chivalric romance.

In the end, the "dragon" image in this film probably reflected colonialism, the conservative monarchy and the capitalist-financier forces that dominated Southeast Asia, and Maung Tin the kid represented the youth. Also, please notice that the Vauban architectural style resembled stars or turtles. In East Asian philosophy, the star is always white and has a round shape, so quite similar to the sun (which is always red). However, the turtle represents the stronghold, or rather urban civilization. Here, the turtle also means the capital or the creation of a new government. Also note that, in the past, technology was still very poor, Asian people every time they build some citadels, they let turtles crawled around, animal instincts will help them locate a stable place to foundation, it was quite similar to the legend of King Vortigern. In Nguyễn Trãi's story, it is also said that, when Lê Lợi was chased by the Ming soldiers, the corpse of a village maiden suddenly turned into a fox which has distracted the enemy to save the king. After ascending the throne, Lê Lợi named this "fox" as The Lady, ie a demigod. This legend probably refered to the future capital of Lê Dynasty, ie modern Hanoi. Why so ? In the North of Hanoi city, there is a vast water with big waves what was named as West Lake (hồ Tây). It is also known as "Golden Buffalo Lake" (hồ Kim Ngưu) or "Fox Corpse Swamp" (đầm Xác Cáo), because indeed, its shape is easily reminiscent of a certain animal. Legend has it that Lạc Long Quân (ie "dragon king") defeated a nine-tailed fox, so it stayed there forever.

Comment on The Paintjackers (1959)

It is unfortunately ! The HD 1080p version is now on my old hard drive which can only be opened by highly qualified technicians.

Comment on We Used To Be Birds (1982)

This film is so poetic that it reminds me of the tormented Tsygan love affairs I watched as a child. Hanoi is having a short cold spell right now, which is normal if it was every year before, but this year it is forecasted to have the highest heat wave on across Asia, so I usually open the windows and get up early taking a walk to enjoy this "diamond" chill. I remember a French song that was very popular among Saigon students in the 1960-70s : Tombe La Neige 1 2.

Comment on We Used To Be Birds (1982)

I'm not holding out much hope... but if anybody can provide a translation of the songs, it would be much appreciated.

Comment on The Case of the Artist (1962)

I think the point here goes beyond just the art world - if you're making decisions that are not in your nature mainly to please others, you'll have to live with the consequences of that, some of which may not be immediately apparent. Unfortunately, we often don't have the means to avoid that, but perhaps we have more than we think.

But to be specific to the film's theme, this rejection of abstract art (often called "formalism", aka. "the study of structure rather than meaning", to quote a good definition from Richard Taruskin) really did have wide support in Soviet society. Not just in publicly-funded art, but also in underground artistic movements (such as "tourist song"). A good description and many visual examples of some of the excellent art that came out of it may be found in the book "Soviet Impressionist Painting" by Vern G. Swanson. It sells for insane prices now, but if you can find it in a library near you, it's well worth checking out!

Funnily enough, at the very same time that this film was made, other animation directors such as Fyodor Hitruk and many others were pushing very bold styles, moving as far away as they could from the realism of the early 1950s. As long as the style remained subordinate to the story or overall point of their films, they seemed to get away with it. Mostly.

Comment on Three Woodcutters (1959)


Ngày xưa có ba bạn thân là bong bóng, cọng rơm và chiếc hài.
Жили-были пузырь, соломинка и лапоть.

Một hôm, chúng rủ nhau vào rừng đốn củi. Đến một con sông, chúng không biết làm thế nào để qua.
Пошли они в лес дрова рубить. Дошли до реки и не знают, как перейти через реку.

Chiếc hài bèn bảo bong bóng :
Лапоть говорит пузырю :

- Này bong bóng, cậu cho chúng tớ ngồi lên cậu để bơi qua sông chứ ?
- Пузырь, давай на тебе переплывем !

Nhưng bong bóng tinh ranh nói :

- Không, hài ạ ! Để cọng rơm giăng từ bờ này sang bờ kia, còn chúng mình đi trên nó thì hơn.
- Нет, лапоть ! Пусть лучше соломинка перетянется с берега на берег, мы по ней перейдем.

Thế là cọng rơm căng ra. Khi chiếc hài đang qua sông thì cọng rơm đứt bục. Hài ngã tòm xuống nước.
Соломинка перетянулась с берега на берег. Лапоть пошел по соломинке, она и переломилась. Лапоть упал в воду.

Thấy thế bong bóng cười ha hả, nó cười to đến mức vỡ tan tành.
А пузырь хохотал, хохотал, да и лопнул.

【Aleksandr. N. Afanasiyev】

🡨 Previous | Next 🡪