Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Lost in Translation

Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation was my favorite of the films we have watched in this class so far. I think this is because I found the characters and their relationship very realistic, but the film also had a certain dreamy quality to it that pulls the viewer in. Of all the films we have watched so far, I think that Lost in Translation was the most even-handed in its portrayal of male and female characters. The other films' male characters were more stereotypical but less complex, but Bob was just as complex a character as Charlotte, perhaps even more so. He was also portrayed in a sympathetic and positive way. I think this shows what a skilled writer Coppola is, since as a female, she was still able to create a male character with a complex personality. Bob is a middle-aged actor who is just making an easy buck by shooting commercials in Japan. Although he still has a dry sense of humor, it is obvious that he feels lost and adrift in life, as if he doesn't know where he's going, and his relationship with his wife consists of superficial, disconnected conversations. Although in her twenties, the character Charlotte is experiencing many of the same feelings as him. I think this is the most interesting aspect of the story, because Bob and Charlotte connect because they are experiencing the same emotions. Their romance could have come across as weird or creepy because of the age difference, but because of their emotional connection, it is very easy to accept, something which I think is due to the female direction. Both of them are feeling alienated and lonely in the huge, strange city, and both of them are going through crises in their lives in which they don't know where they are headed. They are also both experiencing marriages where they feel disconnected from the spouse. I think the love story worked because Coppola made them awkward, but also friendly, with each other in a very realistic way, and there wasn't an emphasis on the physical as much as the emotional.

I haven't seen The Virgin Suicides, but I did see Coppola's other film Marie Antoinette. There were many similarities between the two films, especially in terms of the use of colors and music. Marie Antoinette lacked the substance of Lost in Translation, but they both consisted of many muted colors with brighter colors thrown in to punctuate more vibrant scenes. In Lost in Translation, the bright colors were used to show how foreign the brightness of Tokyo was, and the more muted colors suggested a dreamy, lonely world of contemplation, to illustrate what Bob and Charlotte were experiencing. I also found the party scenes in both films very similar. They were both filmed in a very natural way, as if the viewer was there, with the camera constantly moving over different images of people together, and the music blaring in the background. I thought that the music in both films was excellent, and that it especially enriched Lost in Translation. It enhanced the dreamy quality that I mentioned. I especially thought that ending song, "Just Like Honey" by the Jesus and Mary Chain, was used in an excellent manner because it fit the images perfectly, and its bitersweet nature fit the tone of the film and any possibilities that the viewer could imagine for the ending. Finally, both films frequently showed their main characters gazing into space. This served to illustrate Charlotte's and Marie's lonelineness and alienation, although I think it fit the main theme in Lost in Translation more well. I think that this too is a sign of a female director, since women focus more on facial expressions, and females are more willing to use a slower pace rather than making a quick-paced movie. I think Coppola was very skilled at using music and images to create a world within the film and to illustrate the emotions that the main characters were going through, and how they connected.


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