Terrible Translations, Part 2 (Alain Delon’s Waiting, Talking French)

So Nautilus Pompilius–a Very Important band, although I don’t actually know too much about them. At some point in high school I fell in love with the movie Брат (Brother), which uses some of their songs on the soundtrack, shows the protagonist buying their music, and apparently also features cameos by the members of the band, although those were definitely lost on American teenaged me.

From the late ’90s until maybe 2014, the Russian label Квадро-Диск (Kvadro-Disk) released greatest hits CDs for both Russian and non-Russian artists as part of the Grand Collection series, and about a decade ago, those were probably the only CDs that were turning up when you searched Amazon (US) for a major Russian artist. Now, I think you can download the entire Nautilus discography through the Amazon Digital Music store. Yay, technological progress! I haven’t gotten around to doing that yet, though, so it’s still the 14 songs on the Grand Collection on repeat for me.

Even though I’ve been listening to both of these songs for, probably, a decade now, I only just recently made the connection between the chorus of Bananarama’s “Robert De Niro’s Waiting…” (1984) and Nautilus’s “Взгляд с экрана” (1986), where the one line I can actually comprehend without looking at the lyrics and/or checking a dictionary translates to “Alain Delon speaks French.” And I thought I would translate the song and do a post about it and as a cute little throwaway comment point out “haha, isn’t it funny how there’s a song about Alain Delon speaking French and Robert De Niro talking Italian?” But then I actually started translating, and there were more thematic similarities than I expected. And, as it turns out, not just coincidentally! Apparently–so sayeth Wikipedia anyway–the Nautilus song was inspired by the Bananarama song, which is so fucking weird and delightful and mind-blowing to me. Definitely a Fun Fact for a very niche audience.

Christ, that is a dumb video. Especially when you consider how dark the lyrics are (surprisingly dark,  given the sound).

Aww, they look like every other delightful ’80s New Wave/goth band until you get to the saxophone.

So a loose translation of a loose translation:

Взгляд с экрана

A look from a screen
Она читала мир как роман,
А он1 оказался повестью.
Соседи по подъезду —
Парни с прыщавой совестью2.
She read the world like a novel,
And it1 turned out to be a tale.
The neighbors on the porch–
Guys with pimply consciences2.
Прогулка в парке без дога
Может стать тебе слишком дорого.
Мать учит наизусть телефон морга,
Когда ее нет дома слишком долго.
A walk in the park without a guard dog
Can cost you too much.
Her mother memorizes the morgue’s telephone number
When she’s out for too long.
Отец, приходя, не находит дверей3
И плюет в приготовленный ужин.
Она  — старше чем мать,
Он должен стать ее мужем.4
Father, when he arrives, can’t find the doors3
And spits upon the prepared dinner.
She is older than her mother,
He should become her husband.4
Первый опыт борьбы против потных рук,
Приходит всегда слишком рано.
Любовь — это только лицо на стене,
Любовь — это взгляд с экрана.
The first experience of struggling against sweaty hands
Always comes too early.
Love is only a face on the wall,
Love is a look from a screen.
Ален Делон говорит по французски,
Ален Делон говорит по французски.
Ален Делон, Ален Делон не пьет одеколон.
Алан Делон, Алан Делон пьет двойной бурбон.
Ален Делон говорит по французски.
Alain Delon is speaking French,
Alain Delon is speaking French.
Alain Delon, Alain Delon doesn’t drink cologne.
Alain Delon, Alain Delon drinks a double bourbon.
Alain Delon is speaking French.
Парни могут стараться в квартирах подруг,
Она тоже бывает там.
Но это ей не дает ни черта
Кроме будничных утренних драм.
The guys can try her girlfriends’ apartments,
She also stays there.
But this doesn’t give her a damn thing,
Besides mundane morning dramas.
А дома совсем другое кино.
Она смотрит в его глаза
И фантазии входят в лоно любви
Сильней чем все те, кто узнают ее.
And at home, it’s a totally different movie.
She looks into his eyes
And fantasies of love enter her bosom
Stronger than all those who know her.
 Ален Делон…  [repeat of Alain Delon verse]

1. Oops, I actually have no idea if this pronoun is referring to “the world” or some as-yet-unnamed “he” (Alain Delon? Her father? A boyfriend?) I may have chosen wrong. ^
2. I think must be some sort of idiom, but no idea what the implied meaning would be. ^
3. Also idiomatic, I’m guessing? Implying drunkenness? ^
4. I don’t get this, but based on the context and the tone of the rest of the lyrics, I think it’s about incestuous rape. Fuuucking dark, man. ^

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