Essay Lost in Translation

1091 Words Nov 14th, 2013 5 Pages
Lucy Parkhurst
Dr. Thombre
Intercultural Movie Review
When thinking of intercultural communication, the movie that comes to mind is Sophia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation”. Bob Harris, played by Bill Murray, is an American actor who visits Tokyo, Japan to film an ad for whiskey. Bob, away from his wife and his familiar western environment, experiences isolation, loneliness, and sleeplessness upon entering Tokyo. He is constantly frustrated, due largely in part to his understanding of what others, such as a film director, restaurant waiters, and prostitutes are trying to convey to him in Japanese. In the midst of all this, he meets Charlotte, an American woman who like him, is lonely because her husband is more interested in his
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The showers in the hotel are too short for him, the only television programs are Japanese, and we see Bob feeling emotional and geographical dislocation from the western environment he is used too. There is very little interaction between Bob and the locals, no translation of the spoken Japanese, and often, Bob and charlotte ridicule the host culture, which shows how uncomfortable and alienated they feel. At one point in the film, Bob and charlotte finally reach the stage of adjustment, which is described in our book as “sojourners have gained a level of competence in the new culture. We begin to feel truly comfortable and function well in the host culture although we may still experience periodic difficulties and strains” (Oetzel, 128). The audience sees this when Bob and Charlotte begin mingling with the locals, and even sing karaoke with them, regardless of the language barrier.
The second concept apparent in the film is the use of language. Immediately there are feelings of exclusion and evidence of stress due to the language barrier. When Bob is at a photo shoot for Japanese liquor, the director tells his translator that Bob needs to sit up straighter. Bob looks confused because the director seemed to say much more than that, but the translator only told him very little. Another language barrier is when Bob’s boss hires an “escort” in attempt to make bob

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