Director Sophia Coppola’s second feature film, Lost In Translation (2003) is a story of loneliness, feeling lost, and finding oneself within the context of a foreign ‘other’; whether that is the foreign landscape of Tokyo, or an unknown and unpredictable future. Whilst in Tokyo, jaded movie star, Bob Harris (Bill Murray) is recording an advertisement for a whiskey company, whilst Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) wanders about, trying to find her purpose whilst her partner works as a photographer. When the two meet, they forge an unlikely bond.
Say what you like about Sofia Coppola, she knows how to create a beautiful-looking film. The Virgin Suicides (1999) is gorgeous, and I’ve also previously waxed lyrical about Marie Antoinette (2006), a visual confection of a film that looks amazing but was a bit light on story for some. Lost In Translation, on the other hand, contains a very nice balance between visual escapism and intriguing story and character development. Bill Murray is as charming as always, and Scarlett Johansson puts in a very memorable performance indeed. But like the rest of Coppola’s films, what I really love about Lost In Translation is its cinematography. And in true Coppola style, it also has an excellent soundtrack.
What I most love about the direction and cinematography of Lost In Translation is that it didn’t go for the most obvious way of representing the bright lights of Tokyo on screen. The neon lights of the city could have easily been illustrated in their true, blindingly bright colours, but instead cinematographer Lance Acord opts for a dimmed, muted blue-toned colour scheme that speaks to the way our protagonists feel in the moments of the film. The film is highly introspective, reflecting upon relationships with others and with the world in which one resides. In this way, the muted colours make sense, showing the characters’ interpretation of their surroundings – alienating, confronting, overwhelming?
Here is a selection of my favourite shots from Lost In Translation, mixed up so as not to spoil the general storyline.
Watch the trailer here.