Sunday, 22 November 2015

About Lost in Translation

Recently, there was this film showing in my friend's university. It was something like one film a week thing, and she invited me to see one she was curious about. A film that I had already seen multiple times, both alone and with other people. To be exact, it was the 6th or 7th time I was watching it. But this time was different. Well, to be honest, every time I watch it it is different and brings me different feelings and details. It depends on the situation I am in, the moment in life, I notice one thing or the other, but there's something that absolutely always remains the same. Regardless of that, I've enjoyed it every time and I keep going back to it as time goes on. Why? Well, we all have something we feel attracted to without exactly knowing why. 
As per usual, I will divide the post in some parts, and it will be full of images because Sofia Coppola's aesthetics are my definition of aesthetics.

Today I want to talk about Lost in Translation.

The opening scene

(Spoilers everywhere, proceed with caution) 

Welcome to the magic, still, thoughtful and dreamy reality driven world of Lost in Translation.
Why does the film start with a shot of Scarlett's knickers? Consider how Charlotte is feeling as the film opens, especially in relation to her new husband. Was she hoping the Tokyo trip would be a honeymoon? How can he be so un-distracted by her (she might be thinking), as she lolls about their hotel room sensuously? 
It's a work trip and she's just tagging along. He's trying to work and has hinted that he doesn't have time for her - but she longs for that not to be the case. She's lonely - and very beautiful and sexy and smart and doesn't want to be an afterthought. At the same time, she understands she's being irrational - that he's there to work.
These are the circumstances, the conflict that us being set up in the first scene. The shot might be a clue about whose side the director (and so, the audience) is on.
It's worth noting that the director is a woman who has shown a great sensitivity to the inner life of her characters - not limited to her female characters, though she has often focused on women, especially young women. The shot then is not without irony - this is NOT the "male gaze," after all, though it's composed almost as a detail of a classic reclining nude artwork, yet at the same time with a more sensuous, softer, dreamier feeling. It's sexual but I would argue not at all from a male perspective. Rather, Charlotte is choosing - trying desperately, if subtly - to attract the gaze of her husband. She can't do it, but Coppola makes sure that she has our attention - and sympathy, for who does not sometimes want to be seen sensually and sexually.

And it all begins...

I understand that face so well x)

Lost in Translation is a Sofia Coppola film from 2003 and the first of hers I watched. Sofia Coppola stands out for her unique aesthetic sense that she applies into her works (I confess I quoted  The Virgin Suicides in my teenage years and secretly tried to adopt their aesthetics and aura while listening to Marie Antoinette's fantastic soundtrack). 
Quiet, mysterious, suggerent, still, subtly intense, Sofia Coppola's aesthetic choice sure fits with me (if you're familiar with her image, you'll see my references everywhere).

What does the title Lost in Translation literally mean? Means something was lost when a message was translated. It could refer to translation from one language to another, or from one medium to another, or in a more figurative sense it could refer to a message losing meaning when translated from one person's understanding to another's. It's also commonly used to mean that 'information was lost', perhaps by error. 


What is it about?

Bill Murray deserves all the recognition for being such a great actor! His humour is witty and hilarious

A fading movie star with a sense of emptiness (Bill Murray), and a neglected young wife (Scarlett Johansson) meet as strangers in a foreign country (Tokyo) and form an unlikely bond. Most of the movie revolves around them and subtly presents itself in their various conversations/meetings.

I would describe it as very anecdotic, it doesn't have a "closed topic" sense when it finishes, you're left thinking, "Oh, is this the end?", I found it very surprising in that sense.
The cinematography, the soundtrack, and most of all, the chemistry between Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson make this one gem of a film.

It's just a beautiful story of two lost souls and that's what made it great.

You never know who will see something in you


"You're not hopeless"

Love and enjoyment can be found in the strangest, most unthinkable places on Earth and it can be found with anybody. Sometimes you have to search for happiness, but if you are lucky enough it will come.

Age, location and background have no real bearing on human emotions and how you choose to live your life.

Bill is a worn-out actor (and father) with a wife who constantly complains. He's so washed up he has to do appearances in Japanese game-shows. He wants something more, but doesn't notice it until he meets someone else who's younger that also wants more: Scarlett Johansson's character.

Charlotte married really young (she just got out of college and studied philosophy), and she's being tagged along by her photographer husband to a country she has to explore by herself... until she meets Bill.

The dynamic is that they bond over how ridiculous life seems. Depends on how you see it, it's not a romantic bond; it's a social one. One "Lost" in how we "translate" into life in a meaningful way. 

John (Giovanni Ribisi) is a professional photographer. Kelly (Anna Faris) is a model and singer. Given the context of the working relationship between a professional photographer and a model, it does not necessarily imply that they had an affair. However, the tightness shown by John when he met Kelly along with Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) implies that there is 'something' that John wanted to hide from Charlotte. Charlotte figured that out well from John's expression. What was John trying to hide? It's unclear. Probably John and Kelly had an affair, or possibly, they hadn't.

The most important point conveyed through that sequence was that both John and Charlotte weren't meant for each other. While Charlotte was deep, thoughtful, and thinker, John was outgoing, pompous, and shallow. That sequence was a clear indication that John was not a good match for Charlotte.

Sublime and poignant, Lost in Translation makes the viewer feel the isolation and connection that Bob and Charlotte have in a completely foreign (in more ways than one) country. Emotionally detached from their significant others, they find comfort in each other and form a platonic bond that helps them to understand themselves better.


I would say this is the main theme of the film.
Bob and Charlotte are lonely. Unsatisfied. Each to their own worlds, have this sense of emptiness that makes them confused and unable to enjoy life fully, it is a drawback. Bob is older and has much more experience, which makes him kind of accept that, keep still and indifferent, resigned.

Charlotte, in her newfound discontentment, feels cheated, not by others, but by herself. She cannot see what's going on that makes her feel that way and feels that there's something wrong with her.
The difference here is that Charlotte struggles to search for a reason. She tries and tries over again but only ends up at the same point she started frustrated.

“I just feel so alone, even when I’m surrounded by other people.”

Oh sweet Charlotte, listening to "Find your path in life" CD's and trying to make sense out of nothing... That struck a chord (I wish I could tell her it's going to be okay x) )

Both are craving real connection, which is something that they are lacking and will change their lives for ever.

They go their separate ways, so it could seem that nothing has changed in the end, but the truth is, that inside them, they have been able to open their eyes to real things, to what they needed to find.

I just feel like it transmits the feeling of isolation very well.

One of the key scenes: life advice for Charlotte.


Now, what I loved the most and have seen the same way since the first time I watched the film when it came out is their chemistry, it's special. 

I wouldn't know if it's romantic, but to a certain degree, I guess it depends on the person who watches it. To me, it essentially is a romantic movie. They definitely get to love each other, they feel an authentic affection that you just get to feel with a few random people that you didn't expect at all and came into your life by surprise. 

You can just feel the genuine relationship that builds up between them and I, just think, they, are, cute   x). I don't know exactly how to explain it! They are lovely when it comes to each other. They just like and care about each other. And it comes suddenly, unexpected and it just feels like you go with their flow.

And that makes it very candid and beautiful.

Why I love Lost in Translation

Bill, a famous actor, found it difficult to adapt to Japanese style of acting and also couldn't get easily used to Japanese lifestyle. Scarlett, a bright Yale graduate, was confused about her marriage and the philosophy of life. She seemed lost, although her exploratory mind helped her trying different things (e.g. visiting Buddhist Monastery). Both of them met at a time when most of the things of their lives looked hazy. They became good friends, tried crazy stuff, and worked their way out of boredom, sadness, and tiredness.

The movie did a fantastic job of conveying the uneasy, uncomfortable sense of awkwardness that was the essence of the story. Watching it, you feel a strange sense of not really belonging (as a viewer) but then again it kept you watching trying to find your bearings.

And then you realized that you identified with the characters in the movie. They had that same sense of awkward non-belonging in a place that was not bad, but not home. Clever direction and excellent acting made a movie that told its story in a cerebral and experiential way.  

Personally I relate to the feelings conveyed by Charlotte, feeling detached and confused.

I thought of it as a perfect vehicle to explain the meat of Albert Camus' absurdism to other people. The intimacy shared between the viewer, Bob, and Charlotte helps the viewer understand the necessary context for absurdist philosophy. It reminds us of how miraculous human friendship can be, and how the human condition that we are condemned to need not be experienced alone. We become reacquainted with all that is good in life when we hold these sort of 'innocent affairs' with others -- there is a profound beauty in authentic solidarity.

The more I watch the film, the more I notice these things. One thing that struck me in my most recent rewatching of the film was that when Bob sleeps with the hotel lounge singer, we feel a sense of betrayal not to his wife, but actually Charlotte. Coppola managed during the film to shift our sense of loyalty and our recognition of what is valuable in life by contrasting the dull, mindless phone conversations with Bob's wife to the subtle authenticity shared between Bob and Charlotte.

The disorientation caused by the silence and lack of communication is a necessary element in setting up the context of the film. It is this silence and lack of authentic communication that sets a proper backdrop to highlight the beauty in Bob and Charlotte's relationship.

"Lets never come here again, 'cause it would never be as much fun."

The scene with the Japanese director's long talk translated into a single sentence, "Turn and look at the camera" is so telling! As in acting, the small details are necessary in a relationship to make it successful! Both Bob's wife and Charlotte's husband are busy with their own things (kids and career) and cannot give time to their spouses, making them feel uncared and lonely. This emotional similarity, and their shared nationality (amplified in a foreign land), helps them empathize with each other. You're left feeling sad that responsibilities and age difference prevent them from being together.


Is Lost in Translation intended to be perceived as a sad movie?

Look at the title. There is something singular about the whole experience. It can't be explained, it is lost in translation, not just of language but of culture. And putting some kind of singular relationship in the middle is also beyond explanation. My opinion only; that's why the final line from Bill Murray to Scarlett is left to the imagination, so it can be what it 'needs' to be for our translation.

It's definitely melancholy, but I think the main point is about recognizing the characters' two life crises, Bob Harris' mid-life crisis and Charlotte's post-school crisis, and how they handle that. It ends on an optimistic note, I'd say.

So, do I perceive the film as "sad"? There is sadness in the film, to be sure, and melancholy, which is a bit different, as well as happiness, lust, disappointment, wisdom - in other words, it's not just one thing. My experience of watching the film is multi-faceted - I find I have a lot of empathy for the characters and so feel some of what they're feeling. I find this exhilarating, though, which is why I find the film successful.

That is, rather than emphasizing one feeling, the film is a resonant, emotional journey - one suffused with sadness, to be sure, but also hope and growth.

How can Bill Murray with an owl plushie not make you happy!?
However, Lost in Translation is not intended to be perceived as a "sad" movie. This movie does not mourn the downsides of life, instead it reflects that at every corner of life, charms, adventures, and relationships can make you happy, leaving all the sadness, melancholy, and guilt behind, at least temporarily. 

Also, I think the movie shows that how strangers can be your best friends at the times when you are tired of monotonous routine of your daily life.This is a fascinating thing about strangers. They don't know about your past, and you don't know about their pasts, too. It all begins from that moments you meet them . As long as you find them interesting and they find you interesting, you can work your way out of melancholia and have fresh perspectives on life, work, and beyond.


Are Bob and Charlotte lovers?

Yes, their love is a profound one -- in that it transcends the erotic. 

Maybe it's platonic, but it's a mature romance for sure.

Bob and Charlotte’s climactic ‘sensation of completeness’ with all of life, their acceptance of the death of their relationship and their acknowledgement of the boulders waiting for them at the bottom of the mountain as each returns to separate lives alone, swallowed by the crowd again, is nearly wordless and expressed solely through their gestures. It is this melancholy beauty emanating from Bob and Charlotte’s final farewell that strikes us as human beings; this sadness is a sense of loss which emerges after having lost hold of what they are missing from the rest of their lives. However melancholy, the human condition is not a bleak one. That we can share these sorts of genuine affairs with other individuals, that we need not bear the human condition on our own, is a miracle of authentic companionship. As Bob walks backwards and lets out a final heartfelt and beaming smile at Charlotte’s composed mixture of laughter and tears, one cannot help but “conclude that all is well” and declare this relationship as one of love. 

In one key scene, Bill tells Scarlett to keep doing whatever she feels like doing: writing, music, taking pictures... She will eventually find what she needs to find, and, above all, she will be fine.

As Kierkegaard wrote in his Diapsalmata

What is youth? A dream. What is love? The dream's content. 

we can call this 'content' the pure flame of life -- the beautiful potency of life you feel when you hold another's hand, running as silhouettes bathed in the light of Tokyo's omnipresent electronic billboards; the silent trembling air between two individuals laying down contemplating and laughing at life; the charming restlessness caused by looking at each other as one croons to the lyrics of a song to another, and the uncertainty that follows as you cannot help but keep trying to catch a glimpse of the other out of the corner of your eye and experience the content of that dream. 

The two characters were written and portrayed to be more lucid than the rest of the society that surrounds them. They carried this pure flame of life with them. Therefore, if lovers represent the epitome of authentic companionship, then Bob and Charlotte are most certainly lovers.

One of my favourite scenes

In one of my favourite scenes, Bill take's Charlotte hand and they start running out of a bar. They don't know where they are or where they are going but as long as they are together, they are fine

Sofia Coppola never depicts any sexual relationship between Bob and Charlotte, but the film does imply that there is an emotional intimacy between Bob and Charlotte that could be viewed as a betrayal of the relationships with their respective spouses.  Bob also commits adultery against his real-life wife by having sex with a female jazz singer, but the way the movie is structured, it feels more like an affront against Charlotte than against Bob's wife, whom we never see.

Thus, however, ultimately it is up to you to see how you want to perceive it.

What is true, is that Bob acts as a support for Charlotte and the same (although unconsciously) happens in the opposite way.

Great advice

I feel you


At the end, what does Bob whisper into Charlotte's ear?

The ending kept me wanting for more. It is left to the viewer to imagine what Bob must have said to Charlotte, which is smart! I was expecting the movie to end with Bob and Charlotte spending a passionate night together, but that never happened, and made the movie feel more real.

This is a hot question on the web, and it was answered by someone who enhanced the video from the movie. Here's a clip from one of several bloggers who wrote about this story:

The words that Bill Murray whispers to Scarlett Johansson at the end of Lost in Translation are one of those great movie mysteries, something you’ll never know and never needed to know. We didn’t hear what he said but we got the idea, and what we thought of in our heads was better than anything Sofia Coppola could have written.

Well, now some geeks with some technology have gone and ruined the mystery, slowing down and digitally altering the scene to reveal exactly what Bill Murray whispers. Don’t want to know? OK, quit reading. I have a feeling, though, like I was, you’re dying to know.

OK, the big sentence: “I have to be leaving, but I won’t let that come between us. OK?”

Wow. Not only is that anti-climactic—pretty much what we all assumed he was saying—it doesn’t really make any sense. Isn’t the whole implication that he’ll never see her again? Isn’t the fact that he’s leaving coming between them in the most literal way possible?

The end really doesn't affect rest of the movie in the slightest, though. It leaves you wondering , how do you imagine the time spent together by Bob and Charlotte in Lost in Translation affected their lives afterward?

...and it all has and end

To finish with, I just want to say that with this my intention was transmitting my love for this film. And Bob, and Charlotte. It has something that makes me emotional.


Lost in Translation is a pleasure for the senses in every way possible: the pictures, the music, the dialogue, the story... it creates and atmosphere of its own (as every Sofia Coppola's film) and sucks you in. Enjoy the colourful, beautifully detailed, and bittersweet world of her movies.

What was different this time, was that after my trip I felt familiar with some places shown, I could understand what they were saying (not in the basic sense, of course) and I could somehow relate in a deeper level than I had before.

Now, I also understand is not for everybody, like everything in this world. From the 4 people I watched it with, just 1, the last, has honestly been able to say that "it was somehow strange, but I enjoyed it". The other people have all coincided on the same point: it feels slow to them ("boring", in a way). I hope it can be appreciated anyways!

I encourage you to watch it if you haven't already and enjoy its beautiful shot scenes, magnificent soundtrack and wonderful acting.

Thank you, Sofia Coppola, for your work, and everyone involved in it. I'm glad we can enjoy this for years to come. 

And if you still haven't watched the film and you are down here, go watch it!! Discover it for yourself :)

Hope you enjoyed and see you,




  1. Me. encanta. ♡
    En serio, fes més anàlisis així de sèries, pelis, llibres i bàsicament qualsevol cosa que vegis, pls. És tot super accurate, els gifs genials i et fixes en un munt de coses!

    Quan la vam veure la veritat és que m'estava quedant fregida perquè havíem dormit poquet xD Però em va deixar una sensació molt positiva, ho recordo. És com quan veus una bona pel·licula de diumenge a la tarda. Mentre la veus són les 4 de la tarda i tothom dorm la migdiada, i tú no t'adorms però casi. Per la ñoña de la hora que és més que res jaja
    But still disfrutes la peli si és bona, i com en aquest cas, et deixa amb ganes de tornar-la a veure-la. Aquesta sobretot perquè té 39403248 detalls que el primer cop es passen per alt, perquè molt d'ells són tan subtils que costa assimilar-los tots 'o' És interessant, no coneixia l'autora però la seva forma d'enfocar la peli em va semblar molt ben pensada. M'esperava una peli típica de Tokyo plena de clichés i una història anecdòtica de malentesos d'idioma, i és mooolt més profunda. D'alguna manera és com dius, pots sentir gairebé el que senten els personatges, simpatitzes molt amb ells i donen ganes d'entrar a la tele i animar-los >.<
    No sé com explicar-ho, però recordo que se'm va quedar marcada la sensació d'haver compartit l'experiència amb els personatges, molt real, amb moments de silenci, moments de mirar sense veure res, etc.
    Hi ha moltes frases que són dignes de recordar també, són "la vida misma".

    És interessant que dues persones amb històries tan diferents es creuin i comparteixin una part del viatge junts, fent que millori al menys una mica l'experiència. Simplement entenent-se l'un a l'altre, deixant de banda edat, posició social, família, etc. Aquest tipus de relacions espontànies que comencen del no res i no arriben a res concret ensenyen molt. Si no l'has llegit, et recomano el 'Llibre groc' d'Albert Espinosa, hi ha una part on parla de les persones grogues, que te les trobes de casualitat i apareixen en un moment molt concret per ajudar-te o deixar una marca positiva en la teva vida. El més curiós és que el requisit perquè se les descrigui com "persona groga" és que no s'arriba a mantenir el contacte, simplement marxen quan han acabat el seu "cometido", i amb això és suficient, és on resideix el valor de la breu relació. Si es mantingués el contacte, deixarien de ser "persones grogues" i serien ja amics o coneguts. Em va fer pensar~
    No sempre seguirem pel mateix camí que totes les persones que coneixem, però totes tenen importància. Aquella senyora del carrer que un dia et diu on està una botiga, aquell jove que t'ajuda a pujar una maleta al tren, una mare amb un fill que parla amb tu durant un tram del bus i et fa sentir bé. Són relacions breus però d'alguna manera deixen una marca bonica ^^

    M'ha agradat veure una pel·lícula ambientada a Tokyo que no tracti dels mateixos temes de sempre, i la forma de filmar està molt cuidada. Dintre d'un temps la tornaré a veure.
    Gràcies per veure-la amb mi :3 ♡

  2. Hellooo~
    Només t'informo de que t'he nominat a fer un test del blog :P No és obligatori, però a les "normes" posa que s'ha d'avisar així que aquí estic jaja

    És el que hi ha al post del dia 26 de desembre, per si el volguéssis fer ^^

    Bones festeees! ♡