Lost in Translation | Film Quarterly
and Lost in Translation. 5. The relation between Identity, Culture and Language With the 'cultural turn' in Translation Studies culture moved from the Eva Hoffman and a summary of Lost in Translation. Eva Hoffman was. Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation () is littered with familiar While his study concerns Western Europe's relation to the Arab world, rather. relationship over the course of a single week (Coppola). Equally important in self and others” (1). As Bob and Charlotte's inner emotions are lost in translation.
One of the best things about Lost In Translation is the way Tokyo, Japan becomes a character in the film. The city is a sprawling metropolis with a population of over twenty million people that seems to go on forever. The most illustrative scenes in describing the developing relationship of Bob and Charlotte take place in the karaoke bars and the hibachi restaurants where they try to adapt to the culture shock and the persistent jet-lag together. Despite being married, they feel alone and unhappy in their relationships for different reasons.
They start off as complete strangers in the hotel bar but then become friends over the course of their stay.
‘Lost In Translation’ – Film Review and Analysis
After appearing on cheesy talk shows and doing uninspiring whiskey commercials, Bob is able to have fun and enjoy himself around Charlotte.
From the one-sided phone conversations you hear from Bob and his wife back in Los Angeles, neither of them seem happy or fulfilled about their marriage.
I have to admit that the first time I saw Lost In Translation, it made me really want to visit Japan. The nightlife and crowded streets of Tokyo interest me quite a bit. I was also intrigued by a scene from the movie that was set in Kyoto, where Charlotte takes a high-speed train to the city to see the Shinto temples and the beautiful cherry blossoms. The cinematography and settings of the film are very moving and beautiful.
Lost In Translation has a reputation of being a serious and deep film with little humor mixed in.
‘Lost In Translation’ – Film Review and Analysis – The Life and Times of Ben Weinberg
There are other humorous scenes where Bob appears as a guest on a goofy talk show with a quirky host. But nor does the film sufficiently clarify that its real subject is not Tokyo itself, but Western perceptions of Tokyo—in particular, the fantasies that two lonely Americans project onto the city and its residents.
When Japan appears superficial, inappropriately erotic, or unintelligible, we are never completely sure whether this vision belongs to Coppola, to her characters, or simply to a Hollywood cinematic imaginary that has been offering up such images of the East at least since Cecil B.
We feel like aloof tourists at one turn and intimate locals at the next. At no point, it is true, do we securely occupy the confident position of the superior Western gaze upon the non-Western. Our guides on the journey are Bob Harris Bill Murraya fading, B-level Hollywood actor who travels to Tokyo to shoot a Suntory whiskey advertisement, and Charlotte Johanssona recent Yale graduate, already bored in her marriage, who has accompanied her music-producer husband on a trip to film a video.
Both characters have lost their bearings, the compasses of their desire momentarily set adrift by the very images through which they had previously defined themselves.
Charlotte and Bob meet by chance in the New York Bar of the Park Hyatt Hotel, where lounge singers croon tepid versions of American pop songs as tourists sip their American cocktails.
Charlotte recognizes Bob from his movies. Along with the setting, this dose of the familiar provides an antidote to their homesickness and insomnia that will spark an eroticized yet sublimated friendship. When Bob shows up for his photo shoot, he is confronted with the images that Japanese culture has projected onto him as a representative of Hollywood masculinity.
The photographer commands him to assume various iconic poses—a James Bond wink, a Dean Martin swagger—as he reluctantly tips his glass for the camera.
The scene is acted and shot for humor at the expense of the Japanese perception of what a desirable American male looks like: But this emasculation does not stick to Bob. It is returned to sender: Many scenes in Lost in Translation would seem to present opportunities for the mirror to be held up in the other direction.
But because point of view is limited to Bob and Charlotte, we see more of their incomprehension than that of their hosts. When a call girl arrives at his hotel room, the camera seems to share his vaguely repulsed indifference.
The film prompts us to read this incident, as well as his quick exit from an after-hours strip club, as a comment on Japanese sexuality and gender roles rather than on American prudishness.
The film focalizes these images through Bob: There are a few scenes where we get an inkling that the incomprehension is mutual, a flicker of understanding that the West might also be an exotic enigma for the East. In a scene at a hospital waiting room, for instance, a stranger asks Bob in Japanese how many years he has been in Japan. Failing to understand, Bob can only mimic a few syllables; his interlocutor bursts into laughter.
The tables are turned: West now imitates East. But on the whole, Lost in Translation makes but minimal efforts to rewrite the myths of Asia that Hollywood film has been recycling for nearly a century: How does one represent what is lost in translation from both sides? The task may ultimately be impossible: In The Virgin Suicides, a group of adolescent boys fantasize about the five beautiful sisters who live across the street as, one by one, these sisters take their own lives.
The sisters remain a mystery; their actions are never fully explained. But if they are reduced to Ophelia-like ciphers of tragic girlhood, it is because this film is not really about them: Lost in Translation might have benefited from a similar treatment—from a clarification that its Japan is but an amalgam of signs and images.