Lost in Translation


Lost in Translation is a feature film by Sofia Coppola from 2003. The film depicts cultural peculiarities in Tokyo seen from an American perspective along the lines of a platonic romance.

Movie Data

Original title: Lost in Translation
Original language: English, Japanese
Published: 2003
Length: 98 Minuten

Director: Sofia Coppola
Script: Sofia Coppola
Music: Kevin Shields, Brian Reitzell, Roger Joseph Manning Jr.

Bill Murray: Bob Harris
Scarlett Johannsson: Charlotte
Giovanni Risi: John, Charlotte's husband
Anna Farisi: Kelly, Hollywood actress
Catherine Lambert: Jazz singer
Akiko Takeshita: Ms. Kawasaki
Nao Asuka: Premium Fantasy Woman
Fumihiro Hayashi: Charlie

The Film

Bob Harris, an American film star in his fifties with fading success, comes to Tokyo to film an advertisement for Suntory Whisky. He meets young Charlotte in the hotel, who is accompanying her husband, a photographer, to Japan out of boredom. A platonic romance develops between the two.
The film shows the Tokyo of the 2000s, in which the two main actors feel lost. Far from home (translation = transferred) and not understanding Japanese (translation). The American and Japanese stereotypes clash hard. The film is already a cultural-historical document today, 20 years after it was made. Faxes are sent, there is about colonic cleansing, healthy Japanese food, airsoft raids, the love of Buddhism, the path of the soul, midlife crises, Porsche drivers and marital problems.

The film was accused of racism because it portrayed the Japanese as crazy and extreme and ridiculed them. Others felt that the film did not make it sufficiently clear that its real subject was not life in Tokyo, but the Western perception of Japan. If the country and the people appear superficial, erotically absurd or completely incomprehensible, this could also be based on the dominant American imagination. Sofia Coppola was surprised by the criticism and said: "I think when everything is based on the truth, you can have a little fun, a little laugh, but also respect a culture. I just love Tokyo and I'm not mean-spirited."