Lost in Translation

Filmanalyse av "Lost in Translation" med Bill Murray og Scarlett Johnson. Oppgaven er levert i faget Internasjonal Engelsk vg 2.

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Lost in translation is an American film, directed by Sofia Coppola (daughter of the famous director Francis Ford Coppola, who directed The Godfather) in 2003. Lost in Translation is starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johnson, it is a drama. It seems the target audience is mostly adults, but could be suitable for the mature youth. The movie won and Oscar for best screenplay and also won several Golden Globe awards. Lost in Translation is a low budget film (4000000$).


In the first scene we see Bob Harris sitting in a taxi on the way to the luxury hotel were he is supposed to stay. He is very calm and casual. Then we get a view of Tokyo, which is full of life and people going places. I think the Tokyo we see, is the typical cliché Asian metropolis, with lots of lights flashing and commercials everywhere. He arrives at his hotel, lots of people greeting him. It certainly seems like this is not a new phenomenon for him, because he seems a bit tired and careless. We soon get to know that he has traveled to Tokyo to shot a Whisky commercial. We also get to see Charlotte with her back towards the camera, just lying in her bed relaxing. Seems like she does not really know what to do with her life. Already here you might get the impression of the fact that this is not just any film. You might say it is one of those; one of a kind movies.


The main character is Bob Harris; he is a slightly faded movie star on his way to, as mentioned above, shot a whiskey commercial. He is planning on only staying in Tokyo for a couple of days. It seems like he is devoted on making the commercial then get away as fast as possible. When his manager asks him if he wish to visit a show, not scheduled. He says no, even though it is quite a lot of money in it. He also forgets his daughters birthday, and his wife says something along the lines of: "But I'm sure she won't mind" Charlotte is the other main character. She is joining her workaholic husband, which works as a photographer, on his trip to Tokyo to work. He does not really seem to care what Charlotte thinks or wants and basically treats her badly.


The turning point of the film is when Bob and Charlotte meet in the bar the first time. They both feel a bit less lonely, probably because they now know that they are not the only ones in the Hotel that feels really lost and depressed. From here the story develops to their first arranged meeting, and from here the “couple” explores seemingly some of Tokyo’s wildest places together. It seems like they forget their worries for a while, when together.


Both of the characters change a bit during the film. They are in the same boat. That makes them both feel much better, and the opportunity to talk it over with a person stuck with the sort of the same problems seems comfortable. Charlotte has her life in front of her, while Bob is middle-aged. Bob teaches Charlotte about the future, while Charlotte makes Bob feel young and crazy again. They really need each other, but at the same time it is the impossible and forbidden love. They are both married, both with good reasons not to get together. Charlotte is recently married, while Bob has got children in his marriage, which compensate for the fact that the marriage frankly is a bit dimmed.


There are three significant minor characters, with different reason for being part of the film. Charlotte’s husband is probably what Bob used to be, when younger. All excited about his work, and forgetting about his wife. Bob, on the other hand, has changed for the better, he does not really care that much for work anymore. However, it seems as the wounds from when he was like Charlotte’s husband still goes deep. This brings us to another minor character, Lydia, Bob’s wife. Lydia does not really care for Bob anymore, and it seems like she is just calling him because she feels like she has to.   Here is a quote that really shows their boring and toned down marriage:

Lydia (bobs wife): "Do I need to worry about you Bob”

Bob: "Only if you want to”…

This is so sad to hear, Lydia obviously does not care much for Bob anymore, and Bob is absolutely aware of it.

The third minor character is Kelly, Charlotte’s husband’s friend. Kelly is awfully shallow and superficial and therefore works as a contrast to Charlotte.


The story is told chronologically, and there is mainly only one story. Early in the beginning it is two but when Charlotte and Bob meet the story melts into one. There are no flashbacks, repeated scenes or any of this in the film. I think this suits the film perfectly, and any effect other than what already is in the film would have been inappropriate in my opinion.


The cameras in the film are used in a common way, no crazy zooming (except from the beginning, where we get to see Charlotte bottom for roughly a minute) The film uses quite a lot of dark colors to suggest a mysterious atmosphere, for example in the bar. When in the streets of Tokyo it is brighter colors, but on the other hand the colors are used in a way that express the confused atmosphere. I would say that the film is based on dialogues, generally between Bob and Charlotte. There are mostly calm and relaxed music, this contrast to the confused main characters. The scenes in the film are rather short, but this does not at all affect the films calm feeling. The rhythm is also calm.


Though the title “Lost in Translation” is mostly used as an overall metaphor in the film, Bob literally gets lost in translation in this scene:

“Bob: Does he want me to turn from the right or turn from the left?

Interpreter (in formal Japanese, to the director): He has prepared and is ready. And he wants to know, when the camera rolls, would you prefer that he turn to the left, or would you prefer that he turn to the right? And that is the kind of thing he would like to know, if you don't mind.

Director (very brusquely, in colloquial Japanese): Either way is fine. That kind of thing doesn't matter. We don't have time, Bob-san, O.K.? You need to hurry. Raise the tension. Look at the camera. Slowly, with passion. It's passion that we want. Do you understand?

Interpreter (In English, to Bob): Right side. And, uh, with intensity.

Bob: Is that everything? It seemed like he said quite a bit more than that.

Source: Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_in_Translation_%28film%29


This scene is when Bob shoots the whiskey commercial, (the Japanese whiskey brand Suntory) and the director at the set says several sentences with great passion, followed by a brief, pithy translation from the interpreter. The conversation (in Japanese) is played without subtitles, which leaves the non-Japanese speaking viewers feel just as lost as Bob.


I think the director made this film to show quite a few things. Firstly, Bob is not happy even though he is a previous movie star. Money and success obviously does not give him everlasting happiness. Moreover, Charlotte is not happy. She is newly married to a successful photographer, this does not mean that she is happy because of that. The burden is, however, much easier to bear when you talk to someone who has more or less the same problems. Or to someone who has been trough the problems you are facing. Here is a quote from a conversation between Charlotte and Bob that enlighten this:

“Charlotte: I'm stuck. Does it get easier.

I just don't know what I'm supposed to be”

The films main issue is exactly this, two unhappy souls find each other and together make the strangest relationship. It is a textbook example of unconsummated love.


Personally I did not really like this film, I think it is a bit vague. Drama is not my favorite genre. On the other hand, as a drama I think it is really good. I like the scenes where Bob and Charlotte are getting to know each other. I also enjoyed the scene where Bob literarily gets “lost in translation”. I actually got quite fond of the scene where Charlottes husband talks to Kelly. At this scene we really get to see how shallow and superficial, especially Kelly is, but also Charlottes husband. All in all I think this is a great film, but since it is not my preferred genre I probably did not benefit from it as much as a “drama-lover” would have. Secondly I am truly amazed over Sofia Coppola who managed to make this film so successful out of just a mere four million dollar budget.

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