Lost In Translation - Spatial Analysis

Topics: Hotel, Sofia Coppola, Hyatt Pages: 3 (823 words) Published: September 22, 2014
Lost in Translation (2003). Director: Sofia Coppola.


The film takes place in Tokyo where two characters find themselves feeling alone and lost in the foreign landscape. Bob, a famous American actor, and Charlotte, who is married to constantly working photographer, are drawn to each other. They grow sympathetic towards one another and together they navigate the spaces (clubs, restaurants, karaoke bars) of an unfamiliar culture. They gain a deeper understanding of one another. Charlotte fears she won’t know what to do with her life. Bob speaks about the troubling side of marriage. They don’t act out on their feelings. Before he leaves, they say goodbye, both embarrassed. On his way to the airport, he spots her walking. He finds her and whispers something encouraging. They kiss gently before going their separate ways.


“Sofia Coppola romanticizes Tokyo and her film is an idealization of this space.” (Ahi, and Karaoghlanian, 2012)

Lost in Translation is a film of contrast. This is seen between interior and exterior, between colours and between pacing.

Analysis in terms of space

Tokyo as a setting is interesting. One of the largest cities in the world, it is an energetic neon metropolis. Places of travel such as hotel rooms are transient non-places; they dislocate the character from the landscape. Lost in Translation embodies Augé’s idea of solitude in supermodernity according to Clarke et al (2009:285). There is a disconnection between watching and experiencing, hearing and understanding or misunderstanding. Coppola emphasises this through interior and exterior spaces, through intimacy and immensity. (Haslem, 2004) Charlotte tries to make the hotel room at the Park Hyatt into home with her possessions. She sits by the window with a vista of the city but remains anonymous and cannot participate in it. What’s more, the intimacy between Bob and Charlotte can be seen as an attempt to escape the immensity of Tokyo.


References: Ahi, M. and Karaoghlanian, A. (2012). Lost in Translation. Interiors, [online] (8). Available at: http://issuu.com/interiorsjournal/docs/interiors0812 [Accessed 2 May. 2014].
Clarke, D., Pfannhauser, V. and Doel, M. (2009). Moving Pictures/Stopping Places. 1st ed. Lanham, Md: Lexington Books, pp.285.
Haslem, W. (2004). Neon Gothic: Lost in Translation. senses of cinema, [online] (31). Available at: http://sensesofcinema.com/2004/feature-articles/lost_in_translation/ [Accessed 2 May. 2014].
Ott, B. and Keeling, D. (2011). Cinema and Choric Connection: Lost in Translation as Sensual Experience. Quarterly Journal of Speech, [online] 947(4). Available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00335630.2011.608704 [Accessed 2 May. 2014].
Smith, A. (2008). Film Analysis of 'Lost In Translation '. [online] Tourism. Available at: http://touristoftourism.blogspot.com/2008/12/film-analysis-of-lost-in-translation.html [Accessed 2 May. 2014].
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