Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Lost in Translation

Displacement from family and relationships is accentuated in this film by the foreign city, culture, language, and overall environment in Tokyo. Coppola humor to relate this through befuddled social interactions. Both the main characters, Charlotte and Bob are lonely and dislodged from their normal point of equilibrium. Bill Murray is obviously out of place in the scene in the elevator where he is a lot taller than the other people in the elevator. In addition to this, at the bar it is darkly lit, with Bob’s face lit up, again a scene of solitude. This theme continues through the movie, accentuating his sense of displacement. Scenes with many people use this to show the present loneliness in the respective character’s lives. Scarlett Johansen’s character is also obviously not happy in her environment, she exhibits insomnia, and her discontent can be initially seen when she does not respond when her husband says “love you, bye” as he rushes out the door. When she calls her friend back home, she acknowledges but does not understand her, furthering her loneliness. Coppola could have put this in because of the way women tend to have had experiences like this in their lives coming from girlfriends far away. Men would not stand for or show this weakness of lack of fulfillment.

Phone conversations bring understanding the character’s relationships with people who are not present. A lot can be learned from the tone and cadence of their conversations. Charlotte and her husband’s relationship and also Bob and his wife’s relationship is also shown in absence through their responses and reactions during conversations. Pauses and facial expressions show their true feelings apart from the words that they are actually saying.

Everything is going on around them but in they are their own world. Water is used as a time for contemplation and escape. Bob is shown in water in two especially significant scenes, one where he is swimming, and another when he is in the hot tub. In the first scene, he is surrounded by the crazy Japanese culture surrounding him. He rolls his eyes, then begins his relaxation with swimming. The other shows him relaxing in the tub, then his wife interrupts him on the phone and stresses him out. When they hang up, he sinks underwater into solitude to again get away. This theme is present in countless numbers of movies.

The clips on the back of Bob’s jacket at the photo shoot show the control Bob’s agent has over his life. Already it has been shown that his family life is suffering because of his working relationship. This is a disctinct picture with the clips going up his back like a straightjacket, showing the constraints on his life.

When Charlotte and Bob meet at the scene at the bar, they are spaced on each side of the screen; their intimacy begins when he reaches over to light her cigarette through the black space in between. Their relationship is shown to progress through seems paralleling this. Included is the scene during the party, after they sing karaoke and are sitting outside. Johansen’s character leans her head on his shoulder, this time she is the one reaching out. They have an intimate but not sexual relationship, they lay in bed, again with space between them, this time white, fully clothed but wholly personal because of the intellectual relationship.

Charlotte’s husband’s friend the actress is used as a foil to Charlotte who is intelligent and deep-thinking. The comment that she makes as being anorexic as a good thing and taking it as a compliment is taking a stab at women’s issues with weight and body image. In addition, the majority of her actions and things she says seem to be irrelevant ditzy. This accentuates her qualities that are oppositional to the superficial over-the-top actress. Coppola shows a streak of feminism in this scene.


Post a Comment

<< Home