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Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Joys of Russian Star Wars: Meet Tripeo, Erdva Dedva, and Obi-Wan Knob

Posted By on Thu, Mar 8, 2012 at 10:40 PM

click to enlarge "The Star War"
  • "The Star War"
Your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from Golden State thrift stores, estate sales, and flea markets.

Big Star Wars article in Amerika Magazine

Date: 1978
Publisher: U.S. State Department
Discovered at: Online at

Back when neither had much else to do but try to show the other who was the most awesomest country ever to grace the great Risk board that is this planet, the United States and the Soviet Union both blew untold kabillions on spies, nukes, wars, and -- come to find out -- glossy magazine journalism.

To demonstrate their greatness, the Russians gave us cheery English-language magazines like The USSR and Soviet Woman, which could be surprisingly foxy:

click to enlarge studies_in_crap_soviet_woman_cover.jpg

Which cover tease describes her? "Interesting Encounters" or "Exquisite Porcelain"?

(I spotted Soviet Woman at San Francisco's Prelinger Library. Look for a full write-up soon.)

The U.S., in turn, treated the Soviet Union to the Russian-language Amerika magazine,a rah-rah Life-like photo mag documenting the America that America wanted its enemies to believe in. Sometimes it trumpeted American popular culture, which means it was somewhat inevitable that in 1978 it would run an excitable account of the movie that had become an unprecedented hit in the west: The Star War. (Amerika neglects to pluralize the title.)

After recently being directed to an online archive of old Amerikas, Your Crap Archivist took the liberty of running the Star Wars article through that awful and ridiculous Google translator. The results were predictably amusing.

click to enlarge _star_wars_lucas_film_j.jpg

Here's a quick Q&A covering everything I learned about Star Wars from the computer translation of the Russian translation of an article that -- judging by the close-but-no-cigar familiarity of some of the quotes -- was probably originally in English.

According to the movie's famous opening title card, when and where does The Star War take place?
"The burden is long gone, and it happens very far away."

Who are the movie's characters?
"Beautiful Princess Leia," Obi-Wan Knob, Giant Wookie Chewbacca Hairy, "Robot Erdva Dedva and fragile robot Trepio," "handsome young farmer" Luke Skywalker, and "Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin - probably the most vile villains a thousand worlds."

Wait, which one is Erdva Dedva?
"The machine is small, but courageous. At the cries Tripeo he answers impatiently squeaking and whistling. While working he is humming, cooing like coffee."

click to enlarge _star_wars_lucas_film_ii.jpg
What is the movie's story? "If these [Death Star] plans zakompyuterizirovannye fall into the hands of the rebels friends princess, steeped in corruption, the Empire could fall, and the Galaxy will be restored freedom."

What kind of creatures inhabit this galaxy?
"In addition to robots, Lucas picked up a menagerie of monsters and freaks, which may arise, perhaps, only in a drunken stupor ... Make-up artist Stuart Freeborn went to work and mutilated these freaks even more, turning them into nightmares of genetic, something like giant flies, cobras or monsters that pop out of the deep sea."

Do the monsters get along with the robots?
"Uttering sounds like the hoarse roar of the lion or the sharp cry of a perturbed ass, [Chewbecca] oppresses Erdva little robot, then -- in a dangerous point -- retreats, do not hide your cowardice."


The film seems influenced by many older movie genres. What does director George Lucas say about this?
Lucas: "It's thrown overboard thing nailed to the shore, it is flotsam of the days when I was twelve years old."

What studio took a chance on The Star War?
20th Century Fox, which had success with "another unusual but good film, 'Planet of the Apes' (in which the world is ruled by apes)"

Was the desert planet Tatooine originally supposed to be a jungle?
"The mere thought that during the filming will have to spend many months in the jungle, with Lucas was to scratch the whole body."

Who are the inhabitants of Tatooine who stage a "vicious attack" on Luke and the robots?
"Sandy humanoid"s.

Where there difficulties shooting?
"Visibility in the headlights Erdva was very bad but because all the time Baker ran into the bumbling Tripeo and knocked to the ground."

click to enlarge _star_wars_lucas_film_iv.jpg

Comments From the Cast:
"In life we will never have to say something like, 'Once on board your ship, I immediately felt a disgusting stench your presence, O ruler of Tarkin!' -- Carrie Fisher
"I told [Lucas]: 'Speak not such nonsense. It can only be printed on the typewriter.'" -- Harrison Ford

What can you tell us of the man behind the saga?
"Despite the sad expression on his face, Lucas a romantic, a naïve romantic ... Success is almost no effect on the life of Lucas. He is, as before, traveled in an old car, eat what and how horrible, wears jeans and baggy sweaters."

Tell us a terrible lie.
"The main purpose of Lucas - is to become sufficiently independent of the means to make small movies for a narrow circle of spectators."

click to enlarge _star_wars_lucas_film_iii.jpg

How does the movie end?
"Princess Leia is saved, the Death Star vaporizes and Onions Skywalker, Han Solo, Erdva Dedva Tripeo and receive the gratitude of all lovers of freedom."

Wait, "Onions"? Trying to make sense of all this, your Crap Archivist turned to Meesha Viron, author of the excellent Kansas City With the Russian Accent blog. (A relisher of strange and wonderful things, Viron sent me the link to America magazine in the first place.) Viron explained, "'Luke' in Russian Transcription is "Лук," which actually sounds like 'look,' but means 'onion.' The translator didn't recognize it as a proper name."

I also asked Viron about a curious passage identifying Lucas' friend Steven Spielberg as the director of "Paste," purportedly "a film that broke all box office records."

"That's a weird one," Viron writes. "In the magazine they translated Jaws in Russian, but instead of the word for 'jaws' they used one translates more like 'maw,' which in Russian sounds like 'past.' Then the translator for some reason left it as is."

And, of Amerika magazine in general, Viron says, "People in the USSR read American magazines like scifi novels about the future."

Then, Viron wrote a helpful translation of another Soviet-era Russian Star Wars article: A review written by someone who doesn't seem to have seen the original film. (That reviewer describes the movie's characters as "a round-faced princess, a country boy, an old knight of the Round Table, an ape-man and two robots.")

Thanks, Meesha! Unto you may force be!

You can enjoy the full Star Wars Amerika article here.

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Alan Scherstuhl


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