Roger Ebert on ‘Lost in Translation’

Travel Blog  •  Jim Benning  •  08.10.10 | 12:28 PM ET

I’ve never read a more insightful piece about the beauty and nuance in Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation”—a masterpiece of a film—than this one. Coppola has one objective, Ebert writes:

She wants to show two people lonely in vast foreign Tokyo and coming to the mutual realization that their lives are stuck. Perhaps what they’re looking for is the same thing I’ve heard we seek in marriage: A witness. Coppola wants to get that note right. There isn’t a viewer who doesn’t expect Bob Harris and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) to end up in love, or having sex, or whatever. We’ve met Charlotte’s husband John (Giovanni Ribisi). We expect him to return unexpectedly from his photo shoot and surprise them together. These expectations have been sculpted, one chip of Hollywood’s chisel after another, in tens of thousands of films. The last thing we expect is… what would probably actually happen. They share loneliness.

Among other highlights, Ebert explains why he can’t take his eyes off of Bob Harris (Bill Murray) in the film, and why whatever Johansson’s character whispers into Bob’s ear at the end simply doesn’t matter. (Via LAObserved)

7 Comments for Roger Ebert on ‘Lost in Translation’

TambourineMan 08.10.10 | 7:23 PM ET

I was never one of the people that didn’t “get” Lost In Translation. At the time I remember thinking it was good, but way overrated. I’ve seen it a couple times since then and have changed my mind. It’s a great movie. But Jim, “masterpiece”? Let’s not get crazy. The only masterpiece with the Coppola name attached to it is Godfather II.

Julia Ross 08.10.10 | 8:47 PM ET

Great piece by Ebert. And I’m one of the people who totally gets it.

Chuck Kirchner 08.10.10 | 9:45 PM ET

Great review of what is IMHO one of the best movies ever.  From the glance in the elevator to the drinks in the top floor bar, from Bill’s commercial to Scarlette’s temple visitation, from the karaoke evening to the bedtime conversation to the perfect closing scene - it was just so well done - and as Ebert says, so right on the mark - so believable - and so Tokyo.  Its the only DVD that I own (compared with the 25 or so my daughter has!).

James Clark 08.11.10 | 8:38 PM ET

I got this film from the first view and have watched it numerous times since.

There were some youtube videos going around that claimed to have deciphered what they said at the end, but this turned out to be false. The film works better not knowing what he said.

OwnerOperator 08.17.10 | 3:56 AM ET

Wonderful blog.. we enjoyed the read.. keep up the great work!

pam 08.22.10 | 10:11 AM ET

I loved that movie so much, just thinking about it makes me sentimental and a bit weepy. I saw it with a friend, he asked me what I thought that whisper was at the end and I remember saying, just like Roger Ebert, “It doesn’t matter.”

Christopher Carr 09.03.10 | 5:34 AM ET

Dyske Suematsu’s review is better:

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