Classic Scene: “Look at the camera…with intensity.”
“Look at the camera…with intensity”
from Lost in Translation
by Sophia Coppola, 2003
The Scene: Tired and depressed actor Bob Harris has arrived in Tokyo to create an ad campaign for Suntory Whiskey only to find himself feeling alienated by modern Japanese culture.
Deconstruction: Hopefully the whiskey is as dry as the humour. There are plenty of laugh out loud surreal moments littered throughout this modern classic but few tweak the funny bone like this scene, especially the closing line. Bill Murray as Bob Harris is at his deadpan best playing the actor who has long felt cut off from the world, juxtaposed against the hyperactive director (Yukai), spilling instructions and gesturing widely. Unable to find out what is happening from the translator, he becomes more and more exasperated until his cool demeanor begins to crack. Closing the scene with the director screaming “cuto cuto cuto!” over the top of his restrained expression is pure brilliance. Bob Harris is without a doubt the performance of a career for Bill Murray. Many of his characters remain a closed book to the viewer, but Harris stands out as being much more human, with unmistakable pain sitting just below the surface. Completely cut off from the rest of his world, he’s as lost as ever and it’s testament to his comedic skills that he can use this tragic figure to generate so many laughs. Coppola is also presenting her best work on this scene (and on the whole film), with the softly lit, classic lounge set jarring with the slick, high-tech and impassive film crew makes this sequence almost just as amusing even with the sound off.
Best Bit: “It sounded like he said more.” Murray gets literally lost in the translation.