The 2019 “Hellboy” remake has been panned by critics and declared a flop at the U.S. box office. In Russia, however, it’s provoking very different headlines.
Following its April 11, 2019 release in the country, attention has focused on a scene in which the red chain-smoking half-demon meets Baba-yaga, a haggard witch who has a thing for crawling backward like a spider.
“I recall you tried to raise Stalin’s ghost from a necropolis,” Hellboy tells her in the original English-language version of the film.
But in the Russian version, reference to the Soviet dictator who oversaw the mass execution of his compatriots and sent millions to the gulag has apparently been scrapped. Instead, it’s Adolf Hitler whom Hellboy cites.
The script adjustment was reported on April 16, 2019, by the independent TV channel Dozhd, which compared the film’s original version to the dubbed Russian-language release.Hellboy (2019 Movie) Official Trailer “Smash Things” – David Harbour, Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane
Twitter users who saw the film in cinemas noted another curious detail: subtitled versions of the original had the word “Hitler” bleeped out, as well as a single curse-word in a film full of them. The subtitles, however, retained mention of the Nazi leader.
It may not be an isolated case.
According to the Russian film-review site Kinopoisk, MEGOGO Distribution, the company overseeing the “Hellboy” Russian release, has previously changed details in American films.
In the Russian version of the 2017 action thriller “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” Kinopoisk reported, Gary Oldman’s character is no longer from Belarus, but Bosnia-Herzegovina.
“Hellboy” is also not the first popular comic-book hero whose franchise has had to fall in line with Russian censors.
On Jan. 9, 2019, the Russian comic-book publisher Komilfo said that it had removed an entire chapter from its Russian-language version of “Deadpool Max” because Russia’s consumer-protection agency concluded that it promotes extremism.
“In Russian legal terms even satire can be treated as propaganda,” Komilfo director Mikhail Bogdanov told RFE/RL at the time. “In our country there are certain legal lines that you can’t cross.”
MEGOGO Distribution did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the “Hellboy” release.
This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.