Archiv

Artikel Tagged ‘lost in translation’

Translated Suntory Scene

What Else Was Lost in Translation

IT doesn’t take much to figure out that „Lost in Translation,“ the title of Sofia Coppola’s elegiac new film about two lonely American souls in Tokyo, means more than one thing. There is the cultural dislocation felt by Bob Harris (Bill Murray), a washed-up movie actor, and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), a young wife trying to find herself. They are also lost in their marriages, lost in their lives. Then, of course, there is the simple matter of language.

Bob, who is in town to make a whiskey commercial, doesn’t speak Japanese. His director (Yutaka Tadokoro), a histrionic Japanese hipster, doesn’t speak English. In one scene, Bob goes on the set and tries to understand the director through a demure interpreter (Akiko Takeshita), who is either unable or (more likely) unwilling to translate everything the director is rattling on about.

Needless to say, Bob is lost. And without subtitles, so is the audience. Here, translated into English, is what the fulmination is really about.

DIRECTOR (in Japanese to the interpreter): The translation is very important, O.K.? The translation.

INTERPRETER: Yes, of course. I understand.

DIRECTOR: Mr. Bob-san. You are sitting quietly in your study. And then there is a bottle of Suntory whiskey 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, „Cheers to you guys,“ Suntory time!

INTERPRETER: He wants you to turn, look in camera. O.K.?

BOB: That’s all he said?

INTERPRETER: Yes, turn to camera.

BOB: Does he want me to, to turn from the right or turn from the left?

INTERPRETER (in very formal Japanese to the director): He has prepared and is ready. And he wants to know, when the camera rolls, would you prefer that he turn to the left, or would you prefer that he turn to the right? And that is the kind of thing he would like to know, if you don’t mind.

DIRECTOR (very brusquely, and in much more colloquial Japanese): Either way is fine. That kind of thing doesn’t matter. We don’t have time, Bob-san, O.K.? You need to hurry. Raise the tension. Look at the camera. Slowly, with passion. It’s passion that we want. Do you understand?

INTERPRETER (In English, to Bob): Right side. And, uh, with intensity.

BOB: Is that everything? It seemed like he said quite a bit more than that.

DIRECTOR: What you are talking about is not just whiskey, you know. Do you understand? It’s like you are meeting old friends. Softly, tenderly. Gently. Let your feelings boil up. Tension is important! Don’t forget.

INTERPRETER (in English, to Bob): Like an old friend, and into the camera.

BOB: O.K.

DIRECTOR: You understand? You love whiskey. It’s Suntory time! O.K.?

BOB: O.K.

DIRECTOR: O.K.? O.K., let’s roll. Start.

BOB: For relaxing times, make it Suntory time.

DIRECTOR: Cut, cut, cut, cut, cut! (Then in a very male form of Japanese, like a father speaking to a wayward child) Don’t try to fool me. Don’t pretend you don’t understand. Do you even understand what we are trying to do? Suntory is very exclusive. The sound of the words is important. It’s an expensive drink. This is No. 1. Now do it again, and you have to feel that this is exclusive. O.K.? This is not an everyday whiskey you know.

INTERPRETER: Could you do it slower and —

DIRECTOR: With more ecstatic emotion.

INTERPRETER: More intensity.

DIRECTOR (in English): Suntory time! Roll.

BOB: For relaxing times, make it Suntory time.

DIRECTOR: Cut, cut, cut, cut, cut! God, I’m begging you.

In an interview, Ms. Coppola said she wrote the dialogue for the scene in English, and then it was translated into Japanese for Mr. Tadokoro. The scene, she said, came out of her own experience promoting her first feature film, „The Virgin Suicides,“ in Japan. Whenever she would say something, she said, the interpreter would seemingly speak for much longer. „I would think that she was adding to what I was saying and getting carried away, so I wanted to have that in the scene.“

In the scene, Ms. Coppola said, Mr. Murray never did learn what the director was saying. „I like the fact that the American actors don’t really know what’s going on, just like the characters,“ she said.

Frankly, it’s not clear that even if Bob-san had understood what the director said, it would have helped.

Ms. Coppola said she purposely gave the director „lame directions,“ adding, „He wasn’t supposed to be the best director.“

www.nytimes.com/2003/09/21/fashion/21LOST.html

September 21, 2003

By MOTOKO RICH

KategorienCinematic Tags:

Lost in Translation

Tue, Apr 6, 2004; by cynthia rockwell.

I’ve collected the posts from my Lost In Translation obsession and pasted them here:

3/7/04

I’m very late on the scene, having just seen this movie today. And my opinion is evenly split between HATING it and LOVING it. What I loved:

  1. Scarlett Johansson has belly rolls and cellulite and we see it
  2. Bill Murray
  3. The film’s small focus
  4. Bill Murray
  5. The scene where Bill Murray walks into the hotel and is immediately greeted with a fax from his wife sayng „You forgot Andrew’s birthday. I’m sure he’ll understand.“ Fucking brilliant.
  6. Bill Murray
  7. Very good screenplay
  8. Very fine images

What I hated:

  1. Whitey in Japan thinks whitey’s ways are right, Japan’s ways are crayzeee..come on people, there are ways to register difference, even radical difference, with more respect. Buffooning the Japanese in their own country is ignorant and prissy rich-white-egomania. Watch Sans Soleil to see how it’s done right.
  2. Opening shot of Scarlett Johansson’s ass in see-through panties. What the fuck?
  3. Rich bored people who have so much but don’t know what to do with it. If you want me to feel for them you can’t have them walk around feeling superior all the time. „I’m a rich bored princess who doesn’t have anyone treating me like a magical enigma anymore, I’m so sad. I want daddy.“ Women are not magic, not enigmas. Magic and mystery can’t be sustained in a human being, and the stereotype keeps men wanting the ephemeral, the thing that DOES NOT EXIST.
  4. The cruel portrayal of the lounge singer. Couldn’t you have given her just one small gesture, a look, to give her some humanity, some sympathy? Does everyone but you and the one guy you approve of have to be portrayed as a laughable loser? Do you have any respect for humanity? For your own goddamned characters? Heartless.

But I have to say that just as I predicted, Sofia Coppola is indeed proving to be an auteur, dealing with the same strains in each of her films. Pro-magic, pro-mystery, that’s her thing. We don’t hear what Bill Murray whispers to her in the end. Mystery. She sings „I’m special,“ at karaoke. The sex club is garish–too much information, no mystery. Japan is buffooned but also made attractively mysterious, and she never wants to go back again–because it’ll never be so mysterious again. Familiarity ruins the mystique. Bill Murray’s wifey is obsessed with real-world details–carpets, cabinets, kids, birthdays–and therefore there is no mystery. (It was all the same in Virgin Suicides, the girls were mysteries even to themselves, and jesus fucking christ did that piss me off. Attempt some understanding, fuckers. Don’t preserve women in some fucking mysterious glass case. Especially if you’re a woman directing the goddamn movie.)

So I personally HATE this line of thinking, but while I hate her auteurial obessions, she at least has them. She is an artist, and this is an artful film.

I could go on, but I’m tired.

Bill Murray for president.

3/15/04

This is an academic exploration of Scarlett Johansson’s ass. Do not view it as salacious material. Do not! Stop it! Scroll down to see the argument.

The ass shot that opens Lost in Translation. My first reaction: groan of disgust. Why is this necessary. Why would a female director start her film this way. What does this have to do with anything. Why do I suddenly want to *shake* Sofia Coppola.

But now I think it may be beautiful. The film is very much about a girl having trouble growing up. She is a girl in a woman’s body. Her panties are little-girly-pink, yet see-through. Childlike and adult, at once. It’s not a thong. We see that she’s wearing a sweater. Not naked, not just a bra, but a sweater. And she stirs, moving one of her legs. A woman resting, not a woman displaying herself for you. Her back is turned to you. She is thinking, she is in her world, she is not for you.

So the shot is appropriate. It fits. The friend I saw the movie with didn’t like the choice of actress, she said she was too young, that she couldn’t nail the part, she didn’t have the complexity. That a 19-year-old playing a 25-year-old was a bad move. You usually go the other direction in casting. Get a 28-year-old to play a 25-year-old. But the point here is that this girl is in some way still stuck being a little girl. An older actress would bring maturity, but the role does not want maturity. Maturity would ruin it.

And this leads into the daddyism. Bill Murray is not just a charismatic guy, he’s a daddy figure. A guy who treats her like his little girl. Makes a big deal out of the boo-boo on her foot, takes her to the hospital. Grabs the menu and orders for her when she can’t figure out the sushi menu. Gives her life advice.

This is a movie written by a daddy’s girl. Not surprising that in an interview Sofia Coppola said that her father starred in a Santori whiskey ad in Japan.

Je‘ points out that this person’s photos were inspiration for the ass shot that opens Lost in Translation. I could rationalize Sofia’s use, but not his. His seem like pure posed-for-male-pleasure cheesecake. That ass is jutting out and on display and wearing a baby-doll negligee. And if Coppola admits that his work was the inspiration, it beefs up all the reasons I’m uncomfortable with her depiction of women in her films. That she had to convince Scarlet to do the shot makes it even worse. She’s treading a very, very fine line here.

KategorienCinematic Tags: