Lost In Translation Cultural Analysis

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The film Lost in Translation follows two Americans visiting Tokyo during important transitional periods in their lives. Charlotte is a recent college graduate trying to figure out her career while also moving on from the honeymoon phase of her new marriage. Bob Harris is essentially going through a mid-life crisis as he sorts through life post-movie stardom and struggles to maintain a relationship with his overbearing wife. The two find each other in the hotel bar as a result of their inability to sleep and form a connection based on their mutual isolation in both their relationships and the city of Tokyo. The film touches on the importance of communication as well as what it is like to be a foreigner alone in a vastly different culture. The…show more content…
Japanese national Kiku Day writes in her 2004 article for the Guardian, "the Japanese are one-dimensional and dehumanized in the movie, serving as an exotic background for Bob and Charlotte 's story" and "the viewer is sledge hammered into laughing at these small, yellow people and their funny ways" (Day). Another Japanese reviewer, Yoshio Tsuchiya, described the portrayal of the Japanese in Lost in Translation as "very stereotypical and discriminative" (Tsuchiya). In the movie, cultural differences between the Japanese and the visiting Americans are highlighted to emphasize the protagonists ' feelings of isolation and loneliness in an unfamiliar and distant city. However, I do agree with the reviewers that this portrayal of the Japanese and the character 's interactions with them did go too far in some instances, such as low jokes made about Japanese accents. Many of the Japanese characters presented in the film are exaggerations meant to serve the plot and character development of the two American protagonists without any depth of their own. They mainly serve as props to get across the point that Japan is "strange". My own experiences while traveling in Japan, including very vibrant areas in Osaka almost identical to those shown in Tokyo, do not match with those in the film and many of the Japanese characters are very much exaggerations and…show more content…
However, that lack of communication is the result of simply different cultures and lifestyles, not intelligence. The Bill Murray character especially had a tendency to appear to think that he was superior or smarter than all the Japanese because they did not speak fluent English. Well, he could not understand what they were saying either, so what does that make him? The photographer and others that he crossed paths with were obviously very talented and successful at their jobs if they were filming a huge movie star, they simply did not have any prior need to learn how to speak perfect English. I do, however, think the situation would have been similar if the roles were reversed and it was an all English speaking crew filming a Japanese man, or any other nationalities with different languages. I think it is a worldwide phenonemon for people to think that tourists or citizens in a country lacking language skills automatically means less intelligence, and that is a completely incorrect

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