The power of translation: The Iron Lady


Although Margaret Thatcher is not the recipient of very many popularity awards, the former UK Prime Minister has been warped from the traditional “Iron Lady” image to a rather more sinister, heartless leader – thanks to a bad Russian translation of the movie starring Meryl Streep.

“The Iron Lady”, an oscar-winning biography of Conservative ex-Prime Minsiter Margaret Thatcher, was, like so many other movies, another pirated movie in Russia, but the ‘translator’ responsible for the subtitles took some rather alarming liberties to the script. In fact, ‘lost in translation’ is a major understatement.

While she might not be known for being a friendly, approachable woman – certainly in the mind of her fiercest detractors – the Russian pirated version of the movie portrays Thatcher as a Hitler-loving leader who desperately wanted to destroy the working class. In the movie, the Russian version tells of her desires once she is Prime Minister: “crush the working class, crush the scum, the yobs”.

Funnily enough, the pirated version managed to make it into the hands of one of Russia’s most prominent film critics in the newspaper Kommersant, who even quoted lines from the amended script in a review (which was generally positive towards the movie, even given the dramatic re-write).