The weekend не за горами (is not far away). Лето, жара, выходной (Summer, heat, weekend)… What to do at the end of a long day spent на пляже (at the beach) or в бассейне (at a pool)? Why not watch a movie about summer!
Today’s movie is an old Soviet comedy called Добро пожаловать, или Посторонним вход воспрещён (Welcome, or No Trespassing). The action takes place in пионерский лагерь (Young Pioneers camp) also known as летний лагерь (summer camp).
In the movie, an overzealous by-the-books camp administrator Dynin is afraid that the children in his care might get hurt in a myriad of accidents. He sticks to the age-old rules and demands just one thing from the children – дисциплина (discipline). His attempts are grotesque, as when he chooses to disinfect old carnival costumes with ДДТ (DDT) and chlorine bleach instead of allowing children to make new costumes or when Dynin asks rhetorically вам нужна красота или здоровье детей (do you want beauty or children’s health).
His efforts are constantly jeopardized by one boy, Костя Иночкин, who seems to make it his mission to break all the rules. Finally, the fed-up administrator sends the boy home to Grandma. Except even here Inochkin, with help from вожатые (camp counsellors) and fellow campers, manages to ruin Dynin’s plans.
What’s really fun about the old Soviet movies is trying to find hidden messages. Each movie had to be approved by цензор (censor) before being released в прокат (into distribution). No overt social commentary or real or even perceived criticism of authorities would pass цензура (censorship). “Welcome, or No Trespassing”, however, openly pokes fun at overly-regimented and adult-driven summer camps, at a system that stifles individuality and creativity. Yet this is not why the movie originally was shelved.
While criticising the system was a no-no, pointing out individual flaws was looked on rather favorably. So the solution was to introduce an individual who would воплотить в себе (embody in himself) the negative aspects. So now it’s not the summer camp as an institution that’s bad, but отдельно-взятый (particular) camp and a particular type of camp administrators.
Watching an old movie is also great for picking up words and phrases that are commonly used in conversations. Here are some phrases you can pick up from “Welcome, or No Trespassing”:
Когда я ем, я глух и нем (When I’m eating, I am deaf and dumb) – Russians are skilled in the art of застольные беседы (chats around a dinner table). It is a mystery how they get so good since as children they are strongly discouraged from talking at meal times.
В гроб вгонять (to send to an early grave) – this is usually a phrase adults reserve for children. When a child вгоняет в гроб his elders, his behavior is lacking and causes his family a lot of grief.
Кровь портить (to spoil one’s blood) – this is another expression to describe the consequences of someone’s bad behavior.
Тихий час (quiet hour) – the belief is that children need тихий час to rest after all this running around. The practice stops once a child goes to school at age 7. But summer camps are an exception and have a mandatory тихий час even for teenagers. And it does not mean quietly reading a book or playing board games. Instead, it means changing into PJs, getting in bed and actually sleeping (or pretending to).
Хлюпик (a sissy) – someone who whimpers is said to хлюпать носом (sniffle), so it’s just logical that a wimp would be called хлюпик.
Симулянт (a malingerer) – someone who imitates medical symptoms. Do not confuse it with симулякр (simulacrum), even though both come from the same Latin root “simulatio” meaning притворство (affectation), видимость (appearance)
В жидкости вся сила (All the strength is in the liquid) – Russians do not have much regard for eating в сухомятку (dry food), like snacks or sandwiches. A balanced meal must include суп (soup) because it’s good for your stomach.
Закусывать (to snack) – this word has a couple of related, but different meanings. First, it can refer to the process of having a light meal or a snack. Remember, appetizers are called закуски in Russian. On the other hand, it means taking a bite right after a shot of vodka.
Мы сидим в забегаловке, закусываем – We are at a diner, having a snack.
После первой не закусывают – Do not take a bite after the first drink.
Мероприятие (event) – this is a word used frequently in Russian officialese. Anything and everything can be мероприятие, from мероприятие по борьбе с алкоголизмом (an action against alcoholism) to торжественное мероприятие (a celebratory event) or культурное мероприятие (cultural event).
А что это вы здесь делаете? (What are you doing here?) – this is the only phrase uttered by a strange boy with сачок (a butterfly net) throughout the movie. Stripped down to its essentials, it’s что вы здесь делаете (what are you doing here) – a very useful phrase indeed and hopefully the one that will not get you the да иди ты! (why don’t you disappear) response like the one the boy gets in the movie.