Saturday, April 30, 2011

Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation is an independent film directed by Sofia Coppola about two Americans in Japan lost in their own ways of life and for this reason, they bond with each other. In the two weeks they spend with each other they grow closer. They are both lacking an emotional connection with their significant others, which they find within each other. Bob is an older man, he is a well known actor in America and has gone to Japan for business, to shoot a commercial for a whiskey. Bob misses his son's birthday while away and feels disconnected from his wife. Charlotte is a recent college graduate who is struggling with finding a career with herself and has tagged along with her photographer husband for a job in Japan. However he is so busy with work he cannot spend time with her. 

The subtleties in this film makes it very special. Throughout the movie, Coppola eludes to the fact that these Bob and Charlotte have a connection, more than friends. Coppola carefully controls how much interaction and the extent of interaction between the two characters. In the article, Tokyo Story, it perfectly states that "They are both [Charlotte and Bob] lost and vulnerable, and despite their age gap, they bond in a romantic — though not sexual — way." There are several scenes where both characters are physically close to each other but there is never anything sexual between them. In one scene, Bob carries Charlotte back to her hotel room and tucks her in after a night of partying with Charlotte's friends. And in another they are both laying in the same bed together, discussing life and marriage. They turn towards each other and Bob touches Charlotte's feet but that is as much physically interaction there is. It's just as simple as two people trying to figure things out. Although both characters like each other, neither make any move to show their feelings until the end of the movie when Bob kisses Charlotte before he leaves Japan to return home.

This film is powerful in the sense that it makes the viewer think and analyse the characters' situations and how these small connections affect our lives. The scene especially at the end, Bob whispers something in Charlotte's ear but we cannot hear what it is. Hooks says in Making Movie Magic, "And even though most folks will say they go to the movies to be entertained, if the truth be told, lots of us, myself included, go to the movies to learn stuff. Often what we learn is life transforming in some way." It is left for the viewer to make out the rest because nothing it blatantly being shoved down our throats. This movie can transform the way we as viewers and as people in society think about our own lives and our own encounters with other people.

Coppola was determined to make the film her way. In the same article of Tokyo Story, she said, “I didn’t want to make something I’d have to change,” Coppola remarks. “I had an idea of what I wanted to make, and I wanted to not have a boss. It’s hard to get final cut, but it was very important to me to have the freedom to do [the film] the way I wanted.” This film was very personal to her and Coppola was sure she did not want to compromise her film direction or the story.  

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