Around the world, the VHS tape was a very popular format for film. As such, it was very common for bootleggers to make unauthorized VHS tapes of films. In the USA, it was more frequent in theater recordings recorded directly from the movie theater projection (telecine.) The bootleggers would be caught by the police and be fined for copyright infringement and unauthorized duplication as well as distribution if they were well known in the tape duplication circle.
Worldwide, the bootleg circle was much larger as many of these countries did not have official home media releases (sometimes for many years, if at all.)
This was the case in the USSR (and other countries under communism) as they could not get the home media distribution rights in proper. As a result, voiceover translations were created (this was the translation being read over the original soundtrack) They were usually done by unknown people (usually men) voicing all of the characters.
Some countries did it differently than others. For example, many of the Serbian voiceovers that exist include multiple voices voicing over the characters.
Examples of Bootleg VHS :
Polish VHS of Bambi :
This is a bootleg VHS of Bambi I have bought on eBay a few years ago. The tape is from 1993 (?). The cover art uses the 1989 "Classics" edition from the USA and the tape master included is the 1989 USA edition (with trailers and all.) This tape contains a Polish male voiceover speaking over the original English audio. Songs are not voiced over and are left in English.
Russia is very famous for their many voiceovers. This is due to the bootlegging of videotapes of films during communist Russia. The cover art would be completely different from the official VHS cover art. This tapes contained an amateur male voice that would voice all of the characters.
The Serbian VHSes are an interesting case as these were sold in stores and would have cover art that closely matched the originals. As mentioned earlier, the Serbian voiceovers would typically include multiple voices. In some cases, some of the films would have more than one voiceover version as the VHSes have been released several times.
Some of the voices are even known in some of these versions ! Snow White is an example of one that includes known voices.
These voices include :
Татјана Станковић / Tatjana Stanković
Виолета Пековић / Violeta Peković
Горан Пековић / Goran Peković
Небојша Буровић / Nebojša Burović
The covers tend to vary in quality (some are very close to the official cover art, while others take a different direction.)
In this example, Snow White, Pinocchio and Peter Pan include extra photos that are not included on official releases; while Bambi, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty, The Sword in the Stone, The Aristocats, Pocahontas, The Lion King II : Simba's Pride, and Tarzan use the original cover art.
Public Domain :
In some countries, some of the Disney animated films would fall into the public domain due to how the public domain laws are set up. In Japan and South Korea for example, films produced until 1960 are in the public domain. Which is why DVDs / Blu-Rays of Disney animated classics may have different cover art on Amazon or eBay (these are the public domain editions.) The dubbing included is often different from the normal dubbing circulated by Disney (they would be amateurish quality with the songs left in English.)
In Italy during the 1980s, there was a belief that some of the Disney animated films fell into the public domain and as such were released on VHS by unlicensed companies such as Eclecta Video. These VHS editions would vary in quality from very good (Snow White, which included the 1987 print in technicolor) to poor (Bambi.) Dumbo is an interesting case as it uses a print from a TV showing from the 1980s albeit washed out.
So, I've acquired two different Israeli VHSes of Dumbo.
From what I understand, the first one was released in the late 1980s or early 1990s and was the first home media release with the Hebrew dub. The second one was released in the mid to late 1990s and also contains the Hebrew dub from the first VHS release.
And as a special bonus, the seller who sold me the first VHS also included artwork from the late 1980s French VHS.
This blog is intended to document the many retro home media releases and current media releases that I have. Whether it's VHS, Laserdisc, DVD, or Blu-Ray. :)
The Author : willdubguru
willdubguru is a collector of many home media releases (specifically retro ones) and has the largest international VHS collection on the internet.
Coming Soon :
Comparison between three VHS releases of the Thai 1991 dub of The Little Mermaid
The History of the Original Star Wars Trilogy on Home Video
Retrospective of the Disney Gold Classic Collection line
I would like to thank Chris -K from YouTube for idea of the VHS blog.
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