Nothing lost in “Lost in Translation”

When things are lost in translation, there is an implication not only on people’s lack of ability to literally and figuratively understand one other but their lack of desire as well.

So, in the end, what is lost in translation deserves to be and what is not lost is what matters. Nothing is lost between the two protagonists who do not, at any point in the film, explain in a clear or direct manner what they feel for one another.

Andrew Sullivan, in his book on friendship and love entitled "Love Undetectable", writes that in most romantic relationships, people tend to talk frequently about their relationship, but friends tend to let these things be understood, implying that in most cases, friends tend to have bonds which do not require much clarification. The protagonists’ bond in the film is clearly significant, though never clearly defined. However, this ability to understand without unnecessary clarifications, this type of bond, eludes most relationships. And that explains its significance when it does happen. The question remains: Is this love or friendship? It certainly has the characteristics of both, but perhaps more of friendship than love in some ways. Yet, love is always lingering with its potentiality. And, while it's nice to think that Scarlett Johansson's and Bill Murray's characters in the film found a certain soul mate in one another, it is equally true that they simply found the perfect partner in crime during their respective moments of hardships and crises. They found something that they would obviously value their entire lives, but something that would not necessarily become their lives. Most great relationships, of course, are better like this, and whether this is due to personal choice or circumstance is inconsequential. As in this film, the relationship is just as it should be. No more, no less.

After being nominated as one of the fifty films with one of the best pick-up lines in Harper's Bazaar, I realized the line is so great precisely because it is not really a pick-up line and, above all, it is funny. It stands out just as much as the relationship in the film and the film itself does.

While leaving plenty of room for interpretation, the film’s message is not lost. The question of potential love lingers, but the fact that the characters do not seek to answer it, is the answer. And if I haven’t been abundantly clear, I love this film.

A related excerpt to think about, by Andrew Sullivan:

"The great modern enemy of friendship has turned out to be love. By love, I don’t mean the principle of giving and mutual regard that lies at the heart of friendship [but] love in the banal, ubiquitous, compelling, and resilient modern meaning of love: the romantic love that obliterates all other goods, the love to which every life must apparently lead, the love that is consummated in sex and celebrated in every particle of our popular culture, the love that is institutionalized in marriage and instilled as a primary and ultimate good in every Western child. I mean eros, which is more than sex but is bound up with sex. I mean the longing for union with another being, the sense that such a union resolves the essential quandary of human existence, the belief that only such a union can abate the loneliness that seems to come with being human, and deter the march of time that threatens to trivialize our very existence. We live in a world, in fact, in which respect and support for eros has acquired the hallmarks of a cult.

Read the rest here.

Click here to read an interesting take on the final scene of "Lost in Translation" and those very brief, unforgettable moments in one's life:

  • kleitia

    I love your summary of the film and your unexpected connection to the Sullivan article. Just like the movie, you touch on several topics (love or friendship, permanent or momentary, etc.) without giving a ready-made answer.

    • joravaso

      I would never presume to be able to communicate with my audience in the beautiful way this film does with its audience. But thank you! Getting my message across without making it “ready” is what I always strive for, in life and in writing.