LOST IN TRANSLATION
It was the 8th of January 2011 when I decided to watch Lost in translation. I had been living in Tokyo for 2 years by that time. I was very excited, because the first time I watched it, which was in 2006, I was 15 years ago and I couldn’t speak Japanese at all. This time I was 21 years old and my way of thinking and values have changed a lot since then, moreover, I could speak fluent Japanese. I could only remember some fragments, some scenes, but I didn’t remember the whole movie, all I could remember is that the action takes place in Tokyo. I started watching the movie… 2 hours after I was speechless, emotions were beaten over the edge. «Lost in translation» is a 2003 movie, directed by sofia coppola, a daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, who directed «The Virgin Suicides», a movie, which also balances between a drama and a comedy, about a relationship between a hollywood star Bob (Bill Murray) and a young recent Yale graduate Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson).
Sofia Copolla takes us on a journey to the most biggest and, at the same time, mysterious city in the world, Tokyo. The idea of two people meeting in Tokyo is genius.
Bob doesn’t speak Japanese, neither does Charlotte. Bob’s own 25-year marriage is tired and lacking in romance as he goes through a midlife crisis, Charlotte is unsure about her present and her future and about the man she has married. Despite the fact that Bob and Charlotte has the difference in 30 years between them it doesn’t prevent them from hanging out with each other. They perfectly understand each other, soon they realize that they have been looking for each other for their whole life. Sofia Copolla subtly reveals the emotions of the main characters. An awesome scene where Bob sings «More than this» by Bryan Ferry and he and Charlotte are looking at each other is extremely beautiful. They don’t kiss each other or say anything, but you perfectly understand what they feel and what emotions are going on between them. They want to be more than friends, but unfortunately, not everything happens as we want it to happen. After 3 nights spent together Bob and Charlotte say «Bye». Bob whispers something, inaudible to the audience, in Charlotte’s ear. They know that they will never meet each other again in their life. Bob gets into a taxi, while a magnificent song, called «Just Like Honey» by The Jesus & Mary Chain is playing, he knows that he will never meet Charlotte ever again in his life, but he is happy that he met her. They will be always dreaming of each other, dreaming of an alternative life together.
Japan is totally different from any other countries in the world, it is a totally different world. Japanese language is difficult, specific and has tons of «kanji», written letters. Japanese people are strange, they wear masks, behave weirdly and do the things, which are hardly to understand. Japan has a totally different culture and traditions. Tokyo is the most biggest, and sometimes, mysterious city in the world. There are tons of skyscrapers, glowing signboards, high ways, karaoke buildings, bars, clubs and people. The opening scene, where Bob in the backseat of a Presidential limousine, staring at an area with a lot of bright signboards, is called Kabukicho, which is in Shinjyuku, one of the biggest streets in the whole world with 1 million people passing through its station every day! It’s a place where I was hanging out almost every day when I was living in Tokyo, which brings me a feeling of nostalgia every time I see this movie, or pass by the same buildings, which were shown in the movie. Previously mentioned, the Karaoke scene was shot in Shibuya, which also has billions of glowing and flickering signboards, cafés, shops and karaoke buildings, one of the Tokyo’s youth centers. Shibuya also has always been one of my most favorite places to hang out in Tokyo. I have been to every place, which has been shown in the movie, which brings me an enormous feeling of nostalgia and joy. Japanese people don’t tend to show their emotions. They are always being compared to robots. They always act according to the system, which is really irritating and annoying sometimes. Despite the fact that Tokyo is a city with 32 million people, you feel lonely very often and that is why Tokyo with Japanese people is a perfect location for “Lost in translation”. If the place was China, Korea or Taiwan, the movie would have an absolutely different effect and subtext. People from these countries have a different way of thinking and a different mentality. Tokyo, Japan is a perfect location for “Lost in translation” story as it perfectly fits the story about two lonely people.
Despite the fact that «Lost in Translation» is a high-class masterpiece drama it has a lot of jokes and humor in it. There are a lot of scenes where Sofia Coppola subtly makes fun of the Japanese culture and traditions and, sometimes, the stupidity of Japanese’s behavior. A scene, where Bob arrives at the Park Hyatt Hotel, and a lot of japanese people are waiting for him to greet him, they start giving him a lot of business cards, he collects them in one pile, without even looking at them, is very sarcastic and ironic, because in Japanese culture it is really important to receive a person’s business card in both hands with looking at it for a couple seconds. Bob sees all these people for the first time in his life, he knows that he is not going to call any of these people, if so what is the meaning of looking at these business cards, why this fars should be obeyed if it is pointless! Or a scene, when Bob has the Suntory photoshoot and despite the fact that the shoot director says tons of sentences, the amateur translator translates only a few words, which is really confusing for Bob as he doesn’t speak any Japanese, he asks indignantly: Is that everything he said? He asks the translator: «Should I turn to the left, or to the right?» She starts informing the director about what Bob just asked saying a whole bunch of sentences. Japanese language is very difficult and has a whole bunch of unnecessary grammar structures, which could be intepreted much easier in Russian or English. The director gets angry, because Bob doesn’t understand what they want from him, but the reason of this indignation is the director himself. Japanese language also doesn’t have “l” in it, that is why “r” is called “aru” and “L” is called “eru» in Japanese. A scene where japanese send a hooker to Bob’s room is really humoristic as she keeps saying: «Lip my stockings!» Bob:»What?», the hooker:»Lip them!» Bob:»What?» You mean «Rip them». Japanese always mix these two letters when they speak English.
«Lost in translation» is a vivid example of how one should make movies. With the budget of only 4 million dollars, which is not big money for a Hollywood movie, «Lost in translation»’s cinematography manages to be extremely beautiful and ready to give odds to a lot of Hollywood blockbusters. Every shot, every scene are extremely well composed and orchestered. Lance Acord is doing great job with colors and contrast in every shot, the cinematographer who made «Adaptation» and «Being John Malkovich» before «Lost in translation». Camerawork is very smooth.«Lost in translation» doesn’t have any problems with the contuinity. The action matches and happens in logical sequence. The story of two lonely people in Tokyo is gripping and exciting. Having Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson on board is a huge movie’s plus. No one could perform better than these two brilliant actors. Their acting is so truthful and realistic, which makes this story even more interesting and fantastic.
Throughout the whole movie I was asking myself if Sofia Coppola came up with the story only by herself or with somebody else. Only a person with brilliant flair could notice even most meticulous details of daily life in Japan. She takes us on a journey with miraculous story. Watching this movie is an amazing experience, especially for a person who has lived in Japan and knows about Japanese culture, traditions, language features and national character.
After I watched this movie I was, literally, speechless, the emotions were beaten over the edge and it is indescribable what was going on inside of me after the movie. I was hosting two TV programs in Japan and, since I had a lot of fans I couldn’t prevent myself from sharing the experience after watching this movie, I wrote “it’s 2:48 am., and I just finished watching “Lost in translation”. I am speechless! Awesome movie!” on my Twitter account. It was a fountain of different emotions. I called my parents after I watched the movie to say that I love them. This movie made me think about life, appreciate what I have and to achieve the things I haven’t achieved yet. “Lost in translation” has awakened in me an even greater desire to be an actor and a filmmaker. One day I am going to meet Sofia Coppola and thank her for this masterpiece.