The U.S. streaming service Netflix sometimes has a hard time translating sensitive quotes from Russian films.
Netflix has recently landed in hot water in Ukraine for its choice of English subtitles in one scene of Russian crime thriller “Brother 2” from the year 2000. The streaming service translated the word “Banderivets” as “Ukrainian Nazi collaborator.”
Although Netflix soon changed the subtitles to the more direct translation, “Banderite,” the first version caused public outrage in Ukraine.
“Netflix translated “Banderivets” as “Ukrainian Nazi collaborator” in the movie ‘Brother,’ which they added to their library a few days ago. We will soon find out how a group appeal by Ukrainian lawmakers affects a foreign company,” Ukrainian lawmaker Dmytro Gurin wrote on Facebook on June 1.
Banderivtsi or Banderites is a common epithet for a collection of right-wing organizations that were active in Ukraine in the early to mid 20th century. They were named after prominent nationalist Stepan Bandera, who headed the Organization for Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), which collaborated with Nazi Germany for a time.
Bandera is a polarizing figure. Some see him as a defender of Ukraine against the atrocities inflicted on its people by Soviet Russia. Others see him as a Nazi sympathizer, whose followers were involved in atrocities of their own, especially against ethnic Poles.
The Kremlin often uses the term “Banderivtsi” in its propaganda, in which it tries to portray the contemporary Ukrainian people and government as fascist. This caused the term to be something of a sore spot in Ukraine.
On June 2, lawmaker Oleksandra Ustinova announced that the streaming service finally changed its subtitles to “Banderite.”
“Victory, or some good news from Banderivtsi from Netflix,” Ustinova’s Facebook post reads. The lawmaker said she contacted Ukrainians working for Netflix in the U.S. and they quickly fixed the translation.
“Our diaspora there is incredible,” Ustinova wrote.
“Brother 2” is a well-known 2000 Russian crime thriller directed by Aleksey Balabanov that spotlights the journey of its main hero, Danila Bagrov, to the U.S.
The scene that caused a scandal in Ukraine features Bagrov’s brother Viktor arriving in the U.S. and asking Ukrainians at the airport how to get to the city and find where the Russians live.
Viktor calls one of the Ukrainians a “fellow countryman,” to which the Ukrainian says that the “Moskal” (Muscovite) is no countryman of his. Viktor then asks the Ukrainian if he is a Banderite.
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