In essence, it might really be a film about the media of life, about all the images and symbols of postmodern life that perpetually attack from all sides....
Lost in Translation
For those who have seen the film Lost in Translation, yes it is about what many say its about: two lonely people finding love for each other while visiting the great global city of
But for many people, there seems something else in this film other than a love story or an exploration of the short serendipitous moments in life. There seems some mystery lurking behind the glittering city, something enigmatic, like the Japanese people and culture. The attempt at understanding these subliminal messages of Lost in Translation (which Sophia Coppola might not really understand herself) has created a type of cottage industry and continuing conversation. For those interested, they might check out the films website at www.lost-in-translation.com or surf to the fan site of the film www.areyouawake.org.
In all of the reviews, discussions and interviews about Lost in Translation, one aspect that few have commented on is the media ecology that serves as a background setting for the film. This really might be the real subtle message of the film more than the love story between two people. In essence, it might really be a film about the media of life, about all the images and symbols of postmodern life that perpetually attack from all sides like frenzied hornets. In effect, it is about the modern assault of multi-media on the senses and sensibilities.
Our computer email boxes are constantly intermixed with messages from the wife reminding us to pick the kids up from school or from the boss sending some attached file to review. Intermixed with these messages are the urgent email pleadings to enlarge this or prolong that or take a peek at this.
Importantly, Bill Murray and Charlotte are victims of this environment just like the rest of us. One might expect the young
This is not the case, though. Once a famous movie star in
On a different media level, the film is also about the role of symbols in a global context and how images and symbols get lost in translation. For example, think how the Janet Jackson episode at the Superbowl might lose a little in translation when pulled off satellite TV in little towns in the deserts of the
The same is true of the character of Bill Murray, the washed up leading man from
Perhaps one of the real secrets behind the popularity of Lost in Translation is that it means something a little different for each viewer. Importantly, director Sophia Coppola doesnt try to blungeon the audience over the head with a philosophy or story. Like her leading man Bill Murray, the director and the camera seem equally perplexed by the onslaught of images and symbols that pass in front of it.
In much the same way as Michelangelo Antonionis classic 1966 film Blow Up, the style and technique of Lost in Translation is one that doesnt explain as much as offer up images to be explained by the audience. In effect, the audience becomes participants in creating the film.
While many people today feel little more than spectators observing the Superbowl of images and symbols that constantly blur by them, here is one brief moment in time when the spectator audience gets a chance to participate and interact with a series of images and symbols collectively known as Lost in Translation. Sophia Coppola says her film is really about rare moments in life that are great but dont last. She has created one of these rare moments with her film.
Copyright John Fraim 2003.
John Fraim is President of The GreatHouse Company a marketing consulting firm and book publisher. He is the author of
He is also a leading authority on symbolism and the creator of www.symbolism.org, the Internets most popular site for symbolism.
His articles and reviews have appeared in a number of leading publications and online journals including Business 2.0, The Industry Standard, Ad Busters, The Journal of Marketing, First Monday, Spark OnLine, Media & Culture Journal, The Journal of Pyschohistory, Anthropology News and Psychological Perspectives.
He has a BA in History from UCLA and a JD from