Lost in Translation and 20 Years of Debating an Ending Whisper

However, this hasn’t prevented people from searching for a deeper or definitive. In 2007, Youtube user Vid Vidor claimed to have digitally scrubbed the audio, thereby allegedly isolating Murray’s dialogue. According to their video, Bob tells Charlotte, “I have to be leaving, but I won’t let that come between us, okay?” Shortly after that video went live, it received a boost by the website EW, which in turn caused Vid Vidor’s reading has become the standard answer. Yet if you listen to their scrubbed audio, it still sounds fairly inconclusive, and others have indeed challenged it.

For example, in a video posted in 2009, YouTube user DaeOh suggested that Bill actually says the following: “When John is waiting on the next business trip, go up to that man and tell him the truth, okay?” And even a decade later, reddit threads continue to argue and joke about it. One 2018 user, seems to think Bob says, “Promise me, that the next thing you do, is go up to that man and tell him the truth.”

Does Coppola endorse any of these interpretations? “People always ask me what’s said,” she told IndieWire. “I always like Bill’s answer: that it’s between lovers – so I’ll leave it at that.”

Lost in the Question

While it’s easy to understand why audiences would want to hear what characters say to one another, dialogue is not always the point. In fact, miscommunication is a common theme in Lost in Translation, which Coppola builds by omitting key parts of her narrative.

Take a significant scene in which Bob spends the night with an American Jazz singer (Catherine Lambert) in his hotel bar. We simply see the singer sit down next to Bob after her set. As soon as she says the word “hi,” Coppola immediately cuts to Bob waking up in bed the next morning, aware of the empty space next to him. We don’t see what their romance was like, nor do we see how the two separate. We just see Bob’s loneliness, even in this encounter, and the wedge it drives between him and Charlotte. 

Coppola most obviously uses misunderstandings for comic effect, usually involving Murray and his Japanese co-stars. In one of the movie’s most ridiculous scenes, a sex worker (Nao Asuka) tries to seductively play with Bob, only to have him fumble her flirtations. The scene ends with the worker flailing on the floor, pretending to be ravaged by Bob while Murray flops listlessly atop of her. 


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