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Lost in Translation is a American comedy-drama film starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. It was the second feature film written and directed by Sofia Coppola, after The Virgin Suicides. It was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Bill Murray, and Best Director for Sofia Coppola. Coppola won Best Original Screenplay.

The film explores themes of loneliness, alienation, existential ennui, and culture shock against the backdrop of the modern Japanesemarker cityscape.


Bob Harris (Bill Murray) is an aging movie star arriving in Tokyomarker to film a Suntory whisky advertisement. Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) is the young wife of a celebrity photographer on assignment in Tokyo. Left behind in her hotel room by her husband, John (Giovanni Ribisi), she is unsure of her present and her future and about the man she has married. Bob's own 25-year marriage is tired and lacking in romance as he goes through a midlife crisis. Bob and Charlotte meet in the bar of the hotel where they are both staying and strike up a friendship. The two bond through their adventures in Tokyo together, experiencing the differences between Japanese and American culture, and between their own generations.

On the penultimate night of his stay, Bob attracts the attention of the resident vocalist of the hotel bar. The next morning, Bob awakens to find this woman in his room, having apparently slept with her, though not remembering it. Conflict is generated when Charlotte arrives at his room and learns that he slept with this woman, leading to tension over a subsequent lunch. Later that night, during a fire alarm, they reconcile and express how they will miss each other.

On the morning of his departure, Bob tells Charlotte goodbye at the hotel before checking out. While riding in a taxi to the airport, Bob sees Charlotte on a crowded street and he gets out and goes to her. The two embrace as Bob whispers something (inaudible to the audience) in the tearful Charlotte's ear, kisses her, and then departs.



The concept of "lost in translation" occurs throughout the film with a number of meanings. Bob (Bill Murray), a Japanese director (Yutaka Tadokoro), and an interpreter (Takeshita) are on a set, filming the Suntory whisky commercial--specifically the Hibiki 17 Year whisky. In several exchanges, the director speaks several long sentences with passion, followed by a brief, inadequate translation from the interpreter. The scene (like all the film's Japanese dialogue) is played without subtitles.

Director [in Japanese, to the interpreter]: The translation is very important, O.K.? The translation.
Interpreter [in Japanese, to the director]: Yes, of course. I understand.
Director [in Japanese, to Bob]: Mr. Bob. You are sitting quietly in your study. And then there is a bottle of Suntory whisky on top of the table. You understand, right? With wholehearted feeling, slowly, look at the camera, tenderly, and as if you are meeting old friends, say the words. As if you are Bogie in Casablanca, saying, "Here's looking at you, kid," -- Suntory time!
Interpreter [In English, to Bob]: He wants you to turn, look in camera. O.K.?
Bob: Is that all he said?


In an interview with AFI, director Sofia Coppola recalled how elusive Bill Murray was and the difficulties she faced trying to track him down:
"I got his voicemail number and I called him everyday, and he called me back once like a month later but then my phone didn't work. [...] It was just this ongoing...I was supposed to meet him and then he had to cancel it. One of the low, low points was [...] I called Al Pacino 'cause I heard he lived in the same town as Bill Murray lived in. [...] The worst thing I said was: I wonder if you know Bill Murray?...Because I'm doing this script... "

Murray, much to the director's relief, arrived on the set on the first day of filming. The movie was filmed in just 27 days in October 2002.

The bar featured throughout the film is the New York Bar, situated on the 52nd floor of the Shinjuku Park Towermarker (新宿パークタワ) and part of the Park Hyatt Tokyo hotel in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Other locations include the Heian Jingumarker shrine in Kyoto and the steps of the giant San-mon gate at Nanzen-jimarker, as well as the fashionable club Air in the Daikanyamamarker district of Tokyo. All locations mentioned in the film are the names of actual places, bars, or businesses that existed in Tokyo at the time of filming. A map of Tokyo with the locations used in Lost In Translation highlighted is available in the Japanese DVD edition of the film.


Box office

Lost in Translation was screened at the 2003 Telluride Film Festival. It was given a limited release on September 12, 2003 in 23 theaters where it grossed $925,087 on its opening weekend. It was given a wider release on October 3, 2003 in 864 theaters where it grossed $4.1 million on its opening weekend. The film went on to make $44.5 million in North America and $75.1 million in the rest of the world for a worldwide total of $119.7 million.

Critical response

Lost in Translation was boosted by critical acclaim – notably a 95% approval from review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes and an 89 metascore from Metacritic – and audience word-of-mouth. It was praised not only for Coppola's script and distinctive directing, but also for the work of Bill Murray. Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film four out of four stars, describing it as "sweet and sad at the same time as it is sardonic and funny", while also praising Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. In his review for the New York Times, Elvis Mitchell wrote, "At 18, the actress gets away with playing a 25-year-old woman by using her husky voice to test the level of acidity in the air ... Ms. Johansson is not nearly as accomplished a performer as Mr. Murray, but Ms. Coppola gets around this by using Charlotte's simplicity and curiosity as keys to her character". Entertainment Weekly gave the film an "A" rating and Lisa Schwarzbaum wrote, "working opposite the embracing, restful serenity of Johansson, Murray reveals something more commanding in his repose than we have ever seen before. Trimmed to a newly muscular, rangy handsomeness and in complete rapport with his character's hard-earned acceptance of life's limitations, Murray turns in a great performance". In his review for The New York Observer, Andrew Sarris wrote, "The result is that rarity of rarities, a grown-up romance based on the deliberate repression of sexual gratification ... It's worth noting that at a time when independent films are exploding with erotic images edging ever closer to outright pornography, Ms. Coppola and her colleagues have replaced sexual facility with emotional longing, without being too coy or self-congratulatory in the process".
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USA Today gave the film three-and-a-half out of four stars and wrote, "Coppola's second feature offers quiet humor in lieu of the bludgeoning direct assaults most comedies these days inflict". Time magazine's Richard Corliss praised Murray's performance: "You won't find a subtler, funnier or more poignant performance this year than this quietly astonishing turn". In his review for The Observer, Philip French wrote, "But while Lost in Translation is deeply sad and has a strongly Antonioniesque flavour, it's also a wispy romantic comedy with little plot and some well-observed comic moments". Rolling Stone magazine's Peter Travers gave the film four out of four stars and wrote, "Before saying goodbye, they whisper something to each other that the audience can't hear. Coppola keeps her film as hushed and intimate as that whisper. Lost in Translation is found gold. Funny how a wisp of a movie from a wisp of a girl can wipe you out". In his review for The Guardian, Joe Queenan praised Coppola's film for being "one of the few Hollywood films I have seen this year that has a brain; but more than that, it has a soul". J. Hoberman, in his review for the Village Voice, wrote, "Lost in Translation is as bittersweet a brief encounter as any in American movies since Richard Linklater's equally romantic Before Sunrise. But Lost in Translation is the more poignant reverie. Coppola evokes the emotional intensity of a one-night stand far from home—but what she really gets is the magic of movies".

The Los Angeles Film Critics Association and National Society of Film Critics voted Bill Murray best actor of the year. The New York Film Critics Circle also voted Murray best actor and Sophia Coppola best director. In addition, Coppola received an award for special filmmaking achievement from the National Board of Review. Lost in Translation also appeared on several critics' top ten lists for 2003.

Awards and nominations

Lost in Translation won an Oscar for best original screenplay. It was also nominated for best director (the first time an American woman was nominated for this award), picture, but lost both to The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Bill Murray was also nominated for actor, but lost to Sean Penn for Mystic River.

The film won Golden Globes for best musical or comedy motion picture, screenplay, and musical or comedy actor. It was also nominated for best director, and musical or comedy actress.

At the BAFTA film awards, Lost in Translation won the best editing, actor and actress awards. It was also nominated for best film, director, original screenplay, music and cinematography. It won four IFP Independent Spirit Awards, for best feature, director, male lead, and screenplay. The film was honored with the original screenplay award from the Writers Guild of America.

Home media

Lost in Translation was released on DVD on February 3, 2004. Entertainment Weekly gave it an "A" rating and criticized "the disc's slim bonus features", but praised the film for standing "on its own as a valentine to the mysteries of attraction".

Lost in Translation is currently only available on the DVD format. The film was also released in high definition on the now defunct HD-DVD format and there has been no indication on whether the film will be released on to Blu-Ray.

See also


  1. Tokyo Bars: New York Bar, Peak Bar, Hotel Park Hyatt Tokyo, Japan

External links

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