Lost in Translation
Release Year 2003
Director Sofia Coppola
Writing Credits Sofia Coppola
Tagline Everybody wants to be found.
Co-Stars Bill Murray, Akiko Takeshita, Anna Farris, Giovanni Ribsi
He's doing a commercial, parlaying his fifteen minutes of movie stardom. She's just graduated from college, recently married, and tagged along with her husband, a photographer on assignment. He's married with children, but he's never home. She's supporting her husband, but has not idea what she wants to do with her own life. Both are searching for the meaning of their lives, looking at the situation from different points of view. A person's lifetime is filled with self examination. Why am I here? What am I doing? Is this as good as it gets? The plot of this movie is the plot of life. You have a beginning. You're in the middle, and your story hasn't ended yet (in some cases, it won't end even after your death.) Bob and Charlotte find each other fulfilling certain needs. Charlotte needs Bob's attention and humor, and Bob needs someone he can talk to (Bob "talks" with his wife, but they are not really talking.) Bob helps Charlotte by answering her questions regarding life and direction, while Charlotte helps Bob by reminding him how much he loves his children and his wife. The love between the two characters is not one of lust but rather one of emotional and psychological need. Plotless, pointless, and boring? Only if you want all your stories packaged nicely with pretty paper and pretty ribbons. To me, the movie is like the shabu shabu sushi restaurant. What you get out of it depends on how much you put into it. The meaning of our lives, the purpose, the dreams (both dashed and realized), and the expectations forced upon us by others. "Translation" means to explain in simple terms. How do you "translate" what life is? What is it supposed to be about? Different answers for different people at different times in their lives. Lost In Translation indeed and it has nothing to do with pronouncing hard R's.
Scarlett about getting the role "Sofia and I met in a restaurant in New York and she told me she had this idea that was shaping into a script with Bill Murray in it and if it wasn’t Bill Murray she wasn’t going to do it and it was based in Tokyo. It had two appealing things for me - Tokyo and Bill Murray - so I asked her to send me the script when she had finished with it. Not much time later the script arrived. I knew straight after I finished reading it that it was a project I wanted to be part of. It was such a beautiful script. Everything was there. It was only 75 pages, a lot of it was very visual, and the dialogues between Bill Murray and me were like a... ping-pong! I had one line. He had one line. It just read so well, like a great novel and when I finished it I was sad and I was happy. I just knew I could play it!"
Scarlett on Charlotte "She's very American, very blond, stuck in this very foreign place at a time where she's having an identity crisis, not really knowing what she wants to be and how to achieve it. She meets this older guy, going through his own crisis, and they relate. There's an immediate connection, but it's tentative because they're both married, and because he's so much older. But there's no way of getting around it. There is a definite sexual attraction that complicates it. Here's this woman who one minute is being assaulted by all that high-tech craziness in downtown Tokyo and in the next, wanders into this ancient Buddhist temple in the middle of this intensely spiritual ceremony. It's 'omigod, somebody please help me understand what's happening.'"
Scarlett on filming in Tokyo "It was very fun. We were working so much that I didn't have much time to do much other than on my day off. I slept and went shopping and ate Japanese food, but I really wished that I had more time to really experience it because I hear that if you know a lot of people that are there, you can really uncover a lot of great things that are hidden in the hustle and bustle."
Scarlett's interpretation of the relationship Bill/Charlotte "For me, for these two characters to consummate their love or whatever they have, you'd get this feeling like they'd wake up and go, "Why did we do that? Everything's different. Why did we ruin what we had?" It just wasn't right. My character is in love with her husband. She's in this marriage. They're just starting off, and they're a team, but they're just not a team right now. He's busy and she's so not busy. So it just wasn't appropriate and it wasn't right, it didn't feel right and it was never a question."
"There's a sort of sexual attraction between the two characters, obviously. And at the same time, I think it's, you know, an older person giving advice to a younger person about marriage and getting older and having a family and so it really sort of falls not one way or the other, I mean, no reason to categorize. I think that's what makes it such a sort of realistic relationship between the two characters, is that there's no definite line. It's very natural."
Scarlett about playing a character 5 years older than her: "I guess I didn't really think about it that much. The only time that I was really aware of it was when I was putting on my wedding band. Other than that, you think about it and it's like, 'Five years here, five years there. No big deal.'"
Scarlett about the whisper: "I'm not going to be obnoxious and say, "You're a nosy journalist for asking, and it's for you to find out," although it really is. Bill said a lot of things to me, silly things. But whatever he said filled me with emotion. I was a mess; I didn't expect to get that sad."
Scarlett about her favourite scene: "I like the sequence of Billy and me in the bedroom, when we start watching La Dolce Vita on TV and then we lie in bed falling asleep. I think it is a very telling scene. It is the first time our characters are serious and they are not just joking. They are really trying to figure out their life. Also Bill’s character tries to make a connection... it is really touching."
Scarlett about the karaoke scene: "Sofia wanted those songs so I had to learn the words a couple of days before. It was funny because the translation on the karaoke screen was sometimes different and the words were not the same I had learnt! So I had to improvise."
Scarlett about the wish-tree: "I made my own wish. We didn't talk about it. But I didn't actually write anything down. I was too busy moving to the next scene, while we lost the daylight. [sarcastically] It's a very romantic job."
Scarlett about pink: "Sofia's obsessed with the pink wig. She thinks I should dye my hair pink. It said "pink wig" in the script. It also said, "shear pink underwear" in the script. She likes me in pink for some reason. She must think it's very girly."
Scarlett about working with Giovanni Ribisi: "We did two days of rehearsal just so that you can get a feel of some kind of marriage between us, so that wew weren't just meeting for the first time and going, "Lets get into bed now," and that kind of thing. [To also capture] that sort of dynamic that comes with marriage where you love the person and at that time, you're in different places."
Scarlett about Bill Murray: "It wasn't like, 'Come on, Bill! Let's go out and get wasted!'"We just jumped in." But bonding wasn't a problem. "Bill is gorgeous, and such a charmer. "Seriously. I mean, I don't watch him and think, Wow, what a hunk. But he is so sexy.
"We didn’t have time to work on it, really. We met and literally started filming the next day. But it wasn’t really important to establish anything, because the characters meet in Tokyo just like we did. They have their awkward moment and go from there. I remember the first time I met him, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s Bill Murray. He looks like Bill Murray. He talks like Bill Murray. It is Bill Murray!’ It was like meeting Cal Ripken or something."
"He did surprise me, he threw some stuff at me. I didn't improvise back with dialogue, but I did with my reactions to him. It's hard when somebody doesn't tell me what he's going to do. I can see my surprise in my face a little bit in the final print."
Scarlett about Sofia Coppola: "She's very subtle, obviously. You can't imagine Sofia walking into the hotel room and going [shouts], "We want you to move over here!" It would just be out of character. I don't even think her voice raises to that level. Another thing I noticed is that she's totally sensitive to different sorts of things that actors need. for someone who's just getting started, she was very responsible that way. Which is really unusual."
Sofia Coppola (director) about Scarlett: "I like her low voice, and she seems able to convey feeling and depth without doing much. I liked her from Manny & Lo, and she was the right age for this character--kind of on the verge of adulthood but not quite in her skin yet. Also, she has a kind of coolness. She doesn't have that hyper energy that some more extroverted people have but that I wanted the character to have."
Ross Katz (producer) about Scarlett: "Scarlett has a worldliness, a sense of having lived a life that is well beyond her years. She was the most exciting candidate; she connected to the material and to Sofia's work in general. It was great watching all three of them - Scarlett, Sofia, and Bill - all immensely talented and all from very different walks of life and points of view. Scarlett embodied the role of Charlotte, and she's playing a young woman in her 20s, which people haven't seen her do. The role called for a certain complexity. Scarlett brings out what Sofia had written very specifically about this character."
• Filmed in 27 days.
• Sofia Coppola wrote a lot of the film based on her life. The character of John (Giovanni Ribisi) was loosely based on her ex-husband Spike Jonze. Rumor has it that the Anna Faris' character, Kelly, was supposedly Cameron Diaz, with whom Spike Jonze worked with on Being John Malkovich (1999), though Coppola denied the connection in an Entertainment Weekly interview.
• Some dialogue was improvised, including Bill Murray's lines in the photo shoot and his conversation with Scarlett Johansson about his Shiatsu massage.
• The opening shot of Scarlett Johansson is influenced by a painting by John Kacere.
• The painting in Charlotte's hotel room in Tokyo was done by John Kacere called "Jutta" (1973). Kacere is a famous photorealist who specialized in photographing women in lingerie.
• The hotel where Charlotte and Bob are staying is Park Hyatt Tokyo.
• Bob and Charlotte never introduce themselves to each other.
• The entire budget for the film was $4 million. It grossed over $6.5 million (over 1 1/2 times its budget) at the US Box office after becoming available commercially on DVD.
• The plastic flowers/leaves that Charlotte is arranging to hang in her room are commonly used as decorations in shops in Tokyo. The fact that they are pink means it is springtime.
• In the final moments of the film Bill Murray whispers something into Scarlett Johansson's ear. This moment was improvised, as was the whole scene and it has never been publicly revealed what, if anything, was whispered.
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