Cinematography: Lost In Translation (2003)

sofiaSofia Coppola, writer and director.

Sofia Coppola’s, 2003 film, “Lost In Translation” stars Bill Murray as Bob Harris, a washed out actor, who went to Japan to film a whiskey commercial; and Scarlett Johansson as Charlotte, the wife of an up and coming photographer, who decided to accompany her husband on a work trip to Tokyo. As unlikely as these two characters are, they end up meeting each other and to their surprise the otherwise average trip offers new found excitement.

The cinematography, by newcomer Lance Accord, in the film follows a particular ‘style of shooting, (…), and lighting which conforms, in most respects, to the tenets of the classical Hollywood continuity style.’ (King, 2010:92).


Lance Acord, cinematographer for “Lost In Translation”.

The use of both hand held camera work, out of focus sequences and recurrent use of wide shots ‘plays a distinctive role in the overall aesthetic of Lost In Translation.’ (King, 2010:100)

For example, when Bob first arrives to Tokyo, in the opening sequence of the film, the camera’s attention constantly shifts between handheld close-ups of Bob’s reaction to the intense neon lights and bustling life of Japan’s streets and then quickly cuts to, assumedly, his point of view of the same images discussed above, whilst inside a moving car.

Lost_in_Translation_006Medium shot of Bob taking in Japan’s sights. Blue tinted imagery.

Lost_in_Translation_005Bob’s point of view from inside the moving car.

The next scene showcases Harris, in a wide shot, in his hotel room sitting on the bed. The shot stays static for quite a while and it gives the audience the impression of the character’s loneliness within such an immense room. It begs the question of where his loved one might be.


Bill sitting by himself in his hotel room, showed through a static wide shot. Loneliness exudes from the frame.

Within the next introduction in the story, the use of the ‘blurry image quality’ (King, 2010:100) is already a noticeable stylistic choice from Coppola; a girl, later to be known as Charlotte, is seen sitting on the windowsill of her hotel room looking down over Japan’s nightlife, as her husband snores loudly on the bed.


Charlotte sitting on the window sill of her hotel room. Same blue tint as in Bob’s opening sequence and use of shallow focus and blurred imagery.

The initial focus of the shot is on the city lights bellow and only then does the focus puller, Mark Williams, slowly turns the viewer’s attention towards Charlotte and that simple transition demonstrates her vulnerability in an unknown country.

The sequence follows suit into the following morning, as her husband leaves hurriedly to go and perform a photo shoot and Charlotte is left alone in their room, her loneliness starts to seep through the screen in the same way as Bob’s did. The use of a wide shot to showcase her, looking small in the middle of the room, is almost like she is a child who’s been left alone by her parents to fair for herself in a city she doesn’t know well.

Lost_in_Translation_226Charlotte left alone in the room. A sensation of imprisonment transmits across the screen.

Lost_in_Translation_035Further evidence of Charlotte’s loneliness.

Many of the sequences throughout the movie follow the same rules of continuity and stylistic vision that Coppola has expertly integrated into it, so it is easy to acknowledge that the scenes in the hotel would ‘clearly signify boredom or imprisonment’ (King, 2010:92) and scenes with Bob and Charlotte together would signify freedom and happiness, especially as Bob and Charlotte’s friendship evolves.

Inside the hotel:

  • static shots;
  • monotone grade of color;
  • feeling of imprisonment and confinement transmitted through the characters.


Lost_in_Translation_535Both characters feel oppressed because they are outside their comfort zone in Japan.

Outside the hotel:

  • More hand held shots;
  • more colorful texture to the scenes with the introduction of more color;
  • a new found sense of comfort and freedom arises with the development of their friendship.



They are each others anchor in a place where they have no one else to confide in.

In the final encounter between Charlotte and Bob, when he embraces her in the middle of a street in Japan, the long shot holds for a while but, as an escape to the norm, this is one of the only times that this specific shot merely shows two people who care about each other. And even though dozens of people are walking past and around them, Bob and Charlotte still manage to be the primary focus.

Lost_in_Translation_624Wide shot. The final goodbye between Bob and Charlotte.

The visuals seen in the film, from the bustling streets to the giant interactive monitors all the way to the typical Japanese game shows are all specificities that the director and cinematographer worked on as to accurately portray and give life to the memories Sofia had with her from years before. (Coppola, 2004)




“Lost In Translation” is, in the end, a movie about how a journey to a new and different country can be overwhelming and oppressive but if you find someone who is in the exact same situation then things might not be so bad.




Have a lovely day!


Rita x


The Last Five Years: Review


This film follows the story of a young woman, Cathy, who is a struggling actress/performer that goes from audition to audition in the hopes of being given her breakthrough role. And a young man, Jamie, a recent up and coming writer who got his big break after his manuscript was picked up by a renowned publishing company.

This is the story of how they fell in and out of love.

First of all, I really enjoyed the sequence in which the story was told visually in a almost ‘backwards’ way. The film starts with Cathy singing about her broken heart after her marriage fell apart but then it jumps back in time to Jamie, her then boyfriend, singing about how he is madly in love with her. And these jumps could be hard to keep track of except it’s easy to catch up due to the fact that when the story we see on screen is happening in a time where their love was flourishing, the colours would be vivid, vibrant and warm (ex: bright yellows, oranges, reds) and when the story went to present time, when their marriage starts to go downhill, the colours are shown to be washed out, dark and gloomy (ex: greys, blacks and whites).  This is a perfect representation of the mental and emotional descent that Jamie and Cathy go through.


The beginning of their relationship showed through the use of reds, yellows and pinks. An overall light and vibrant hue.


When their marriage ends and Cathy’s consequent inner turmoil shown through the use of dark and light greys, blacks and a blue undertone.

At the beginning of the story, a larger focus is placed on how their relationship is inviting and warm when Jamie accepts Cathy’s request to move in to a new house together, or how supportive they can be, when Jamie cheers her up after she’s had a day where she had lost faith in herself and he proceeds to perform a funny story he wrote about a tailor who has been granted all the time in the world to finish a dress.

But I’d have to say my favourite part about the film is hows the songs can be both insanely beautiful and ‘aw’ inducing to comedic to gut-wrenchingly ‘real’ in the aspects of showcasing how jealousy can be the downfall of a good relationship in reality.

Both Kendrick and Jordan brought a lot of emotion and vulnerability to the characters and that in combination to their beautiful voices made for an exquisite film.

Rating: 8/10

The Theory Of Everything: Review


This film recounts the story of Stephen Hawking from the moment he meets his wife Jane until the moment he receives the honour of meeting the Queen of England after many years and numerous books and lectures being published and acknowledged world wide.

But the thing that captured my attention was that the film obviously addresses Hawking’s struggle with dealing and coming to terms with his neurological deficiency at the same time that it shows the impact that that has on Jane.


As his capacity to walk, talk, dress and eat on his own becomes increasingly affected, Jane steps in almost as an extension of Hawking himself as to care for him and helping to make his life as normal and as easy as possible. She becomes quite literally his back bone.

And it is astonishing to see how she dealt with it all. I mean she married him knowing what laid ahead because she loved him. Truly and completely. There is no denying of that fact.


Which only comes to showcase that the film tells the story not of Hawking’s ascent into professional stardom despite is illness (although that is still shown) but of Jane Hawking’s increasing descent into unhappiness due to the overwhelming notion that after having to take care of three children with no physical help from her husband due to his own inability to do so, having had to take care of a household in all manners, juggling to finish her PhD in Medieval Spanish Poetry  and the added bonus of having to take care of her husband, only came to an inevitable halt because the combination of all of that mixed with Stephen’s increasing expeditions to other countries either to receive awards or to give lectures, led them to drift apart emotionally.


This led to her falling in love with the conductor of a church choir, Jonathan whom helped the family a great deal whilst Jane and Hawking still tried to mend their marriage which even led to a third pregnancy on her part. But the increasing difficulties continued even after a full time nurse came to take care of Hawking, only leading to him having a slight infatuation with her.

theory-everything-reviews-charlie-cox So I would say that the film is a brilliant depiction of how love can truly transcend the boundaries of disease, no matter of what level, and it can bring you up or take you further down depending on how you choose to live your life.

Stephen Hawking is without a doubt an incredibly inspiring man, not only because of his work but also of how he chose to live his life. Free of self imposed boundaries or of stereotypes imposed by society on how you should act or be seen by a major audience. He continues to change the world just by living. 

But then again, it is often overlooked that he only managed to accomplish so much because Jane was by his side every step of the way. Unwavering and strong.

It is undoubtedly a beautiful biographical film with a strong human facet.

Rating: 8/10



The Naked Kiss: Review



This was the very first film we saw in our course in the Screenwriting module and here are my thoughts about it:

The story consists of a prostitute named Kelly, played by Towers, who runs away from a man who’s endangered her safety. Her fleeing inadvertently led her, two years later, to a town where “people are clean” as previously mentioned by Captain Griff. Griff, played by Eisley, is the police enforcement of the neighborhood and is struck by Kelly the moment she stepped on the sidewalk from the bus. This leads to a whole different and complicated “relationship”, of sorts, between the two. Bickering amongst two people with huge prides, is unavoidable. But of course this only adds to the underlying sexual tension they have for each other. We see her falling in and out of love with Griff and her growing infatuation with Grant, the most eligible bachelor in town, with whom she wants to start a life with. The life she never thought she deserved. We see her conflict with this, as well as her admittance that she is indeed in love with Griff, even though they could never have a future together. But undoubtedly, the main plot line of the film, is the journey that Kelly makes from being a low level prostitute to becoming a respected nurse for handicapped children. A far fetched idea, I know. But it works. In my opinion, that is. The various levels of human nature and emotion that are portrayed, primarily, by Towers is what makes the movie for me. Also, visually, the way the story is portrayed to the audience, is of such audacity and passion that you cannot help but get sucked in to this world where prostitutes should be given a second chance in life even though they might kill someone and never go to court for it.

Oh well, the world isn’t perfect.