Translation - Widescreen
Bill Murray, Scarlett
Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi
Universal Studios Home Video
Date: February 10, 2004
Review posted: March 3, 2004
For as complicated as we humans claim ourselves to be, we really
just want to be loved and supported. That's what I think the
message of Lost in Translation actually is. After receiving
a drubbing for the performance she gave in the final Godfather
film, Sofia Coppola (yes, from THAT family) has given us a sweet
film that features memorable performances.
Bob Harris (Bill Murray, Rushmore) is a movie star who has
flown to Japan to shoot a television ad for whiskey, and is getting
paid big dollars to do it. His marriage is cold and distant, he
receives notes and faxes from his wife, several thousand miles away,
even FedEx-ing him some carpet samples. The words "I love you" seemed
to have disappeared from their vocabulary awhile ago. He meets
Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson, The Horse Whisperer), a wife and
recent Harvard graduate. She married John (Giovanni Ribisi, Saving
Private Ryan), a photographer, and has come with him to Japan on
John's assignment to shoot some rock stars. She spends most of her day
staring out her hotel room window, trying her figure out her place in
the world, and what she wants to do, and thanks to jetlag, that time
The two eventually meet in the hotel bar and become friends. They go
to a karaoke bar, and as funny as it would be to see Murray break out
his lounge singer character from Saturday Night Live (and I was almost
expecting him to), it's something that the reserved, lonely character
he plays probably wouldn't do. Bob and Charlotte are stuck on a small
island of familiarity, and their friendship blossoms from the
loneliness they feel in this setting. Would they have met and gotten
to know each other in a different, American setting? Who knows? Maybe
not, through the experiences they share, and the feelings they may
want to act on (but don't) say otherwise.
I'll throw in my opinion to all of it. With how desolate and isolated
Bob's marriage is, he doesn't get the chance to feel alive, or have
fun anymore. Charlotte helps Bob do that, and I think Bob's whispering
is both a suggestion (to keep writing, something she talks about
doing) and to thank her for giving him a few fleeting moments of joy
that he hasn't had in awhile. Because Charlotte (and Johansson in real
life) is so young, it just doesn't seem to me like they would have the
romance that people are expecting them to have. They have fun
together, and he thanks her for it.
lot of people have been pulling for Murray to win a Best Actor Oscar
for this film, and rightfully so. The familiarities between this and
his ignored performance in Rushmore are justified. But Murray
plays the role with so much more depth and emotion, that it reminds me
a bit of his role in Groundhog Day. It's a funny movie, but I
think that's where Murray started showing some emotional range in his
characters. And Lost in Translation is not without its own
laughs either. As Murray is doing the advertising for the whiskey, and
his appearance on a show featuring the "Japanese Johnny Carson," some
of the things he does are very funny. Hopefully Murray can see some
deserved Academy Award love. [Editor’s note: Sean Penn won Best
For better or worse, Universal always puts out a very good looking
disc regardless of the film, and Lost in Translation’s
1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen is another one of those. It looks
beautiful, and I just couldn’t find any issues with the transfer.
The entire lighting cornucopia that it Tokyo comes through with
such vivid reproduction, and yet the blacks and other drab colors
still manage to look great.
But on the flipside, putting this film out with a DTS soundtrack
really doesn’t do much for it. Sure, the music and environmental
sounds are nice, but the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack does that
work just fine. And considering the nature of the film, it’s not
like giving it a DTS treatment will enhance viewing that much.
Essentially it’s a film full of impressive dialogue, devoid of any
The extras on this disc start with "Lost" on Location, a
30-minute video production diary, filmed by various members of
the crew, and even some small time with Coppola’s then-husband,
Spike Jonze. I’m not the first to say it, but I’ll repeat it:
considering what the end result was for a film with a $4 million
budget, they did some amazing work. And Murray’s clowning around
and pitching in with some of the crew labor is impressive to
hear as well. The phrases he decides to learn in Japanese are
hilarious, especially when used in certain situations. All in
all, it’s a pretty nice look at the making of the film.
Conversation with Sofia Coppola and Bill Murray
covers the thoughts of the involved parties for 10 minutes, with
Murray sporting a beard for his role in an upcoming Wes Anderson film.
The two also share their thoughts on the production and crewmembers,
but overall, this piece can be skipped.
Next are over 10 minutes of deleted scenes that give you more
Bill for your buck, as he interacts with a water aerobics group at the
hotel, plus there’s some good footage of Anna Faris’ press conference
as Kelly, where she does a dead-on interpretation of Cameron Diaz. I’d
say most of this stuff could have been included in the final cut, but
then again I’m not up for two Oscars.
Murray’s in-character appearance as Bob on the Matthew’s Best Hit
TV is here too, some of it you’ve already seen, the rest gets
strange, culminating with Bob in the midst of a “Fear Factor” trick. A
music video is included, along with the trailer and
other sneak peaks from Focus Features.
$26.98 SRP? Ugh. Well, it can be had for $20 at most places.
Regardless, the sparkling transfer and outstanding film provide for
some quality highlights, and it’s definitely a side of Bill Murray
that few have seen before, but will enjoy. Highly recommended for
rental, but sooner or later, you may find yourself picking this up to
own, and you won’t regret it for one minute.
appeared on DVDork.com
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