Lost in Translation (2003)

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Released 3-May-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-"Lost" On Location
Featurette-Matthew's Best Hit TV
Music Video-Kevin Shields' City Girl
Deleted Scenes-5
Featurette-A Conversation With Bill Murray And Sofia Coppola
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 97:29
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (55:08) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Sofia Coppola

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Scarlett Johansson
Bill Murray
Akiko Takeshita
Giovanni Ribisi
Anna Faris
Fumihiro Hayashi
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $39.95 Music Kevin Shields
Brian Reitzell
William Storkson

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, woman waving after all credits

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    You know, I miss that great outrageous comic actor, Bill Murray. The man who starred in Groundhog Day, ScroogedGhostbusters, and Stripes. Yes, even Caddyshack and Meatballs. I really miss that guy.

    But what do we get in his place? An inspired character actor, mature and versatile, who can play the comedy, and the tragedy, and can do them both in the same breath. Damn! I think we may just have won that one.

    Lost in Translation gives him the scope to display his skills. It also showcases the increasingly impressive Scarlett Johansson. She was good in The Horse Whisperer, and in Ghost World, but she lifts it up a notch in Lost in Translation.

    This is a story about two very lonely people who meet by chance. Bob Harris (Bill Murray) is an actor who makes action movies (James Bond style), but he doesn't seem to have had a film in a while, and he's just flown to Tokyo to do some advertising for Suntory whisky — shoot a commercial, promotional photo shoot, that kind of stuff. His wife of 25 years hasn't come with him, ostensibly because she needs to look after their children, but one gets the feeling that she's just not interested in being with him any more. Charlotte (Scarlett Johannson) has been married two years to a professional photographer, just graduated, and has accompanied him on a trip to Tokyo to be with him. He (Giovanni Ribisi) would far rather she hadn't come (although he doesn't have the guts to say so) — he has a lot of work to do, and seems to want to spend time schmoozing with his clients (probably to guarantee future work), but he is definitely neglecting Charlotte.

    Bob and Charlotte are both having trouble sleeping (circadian asynchronism is a fancy term for it, but jet lag is the common one) — they both try watching TV that's in a language they don't know, featuring programmes they mostly don't understand; they try swimming; they wander the city looking at signs in a language they can't read; they try drinking; they try calling home looking for support that they don't get. Charlotte's husband is having no trouble sleeping, and he's no help when she tries to snuggle up to him. So both of them are feeling tired, lonely, isolated, and alienated. They have glanced at one another a few times (they are staying in the same hotel), but eventually they talk...

    There are plenty of fairly low-key comic moments that serve to point up the isolation and loneliness. Bob's commercial shoot, for example, is a lovely blend of comedy and melancholy.

    (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) This film could easily have been a romantic comedy, with a May-December romance, but Sofia Coppola (who wrote the script as well as directing)  resisted the easy path. Although it could have been a very good romantic comedy with these two actors, I think we have been treated to something rather more, with both parties remembering their commitments to their partners, even though those partners have been neglecting them.

    Like the greatest of actors, Bill Murray is definitely getting better as he gets older. Scarlett Johansson is, too, although she hasn't gotten quite as much older. These are two names I will definitely be looking out for in future films. I was already watching for Sofia Coppola's name after The Virgin Suicides.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    This transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced. Although the original theatrical aspect ratio was 1.66:1, it was probably cropped to 1.85:1 for distribution in some markets, so I'm inclined to let them off a bit on this one.

    The image is reasonably sharp, but has a little softness from what I am convinced is a deliberate very light film grain. Shadow detail is really quite surprisingly good, given the grain — have a look at 33:05, for example. There's no trace of low-level noise.

    Colour is well-rendered, especially the bright colours that appear in the Japanese backgrounds. There are no colour-related artefacts.

    There are no film artefacts to be seen, other than the grain. There are a few shots where the grain is a bit unattractive, such as 6:33, but generally the video is clean and easy watching.

    There is minimal aliasing, no significant moiré, and no noticeable MPEG artefacts. This is a clean transfer.

    There are subtitles in English and Spanish. I watched the English subtitles: they are easy to read, well-timed to the dialogue, and no more inaccurate than usual (some abbreviation, some rephrasing to shorten). Some of the Japanese dialogue is subtitled (in Japanese rendered in Roman characters), but not all of it.

    The disc is single-sided and RSDL-formatted. The layer change is at 55:08. It's superbly placed in a fade to black between scenes, and won't be visible on any player with a reasonably quick layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The soundtrack is provided in English, and Spanish, with some untranslated Japanese in both tracks. I only listened to the English, which is Dolby Digital 5.1 at 384 kbps.

    The dialogue is mostly clear, but a few lines are a little bit mumbled (particularly by Anna Faris), although still comprehensible. There are no audio sync issues.

    Kevin Shields provides the main score, but there are several credits for additional music. The score is varied, slightly unsettling, and a distinct contributor to the feeling of the film.

    The surrounds are not used to any significant degree, but they're not really missed, either. The subwoofer doesn't have a whole lot to do, either. It's a frontal soundtrack, but it definitely gets the job done.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are some good extras on this disc.


    The menu is animated, with music.

Featurette: Lost on Location (29:56)

    This is a rather-better-than-usual behind-the-scenes on-location documentary piece. There's a little bit of mutual admiration, but it's more an inside look at the little successes and failures that come with shooting a film completely on location. Recommended.

TV Segment: Matthew's Best Hit TV (4:36)

    This is a much longer version of the TV talk show that Bob appears on.

Music Video: City Girl Kevin Shields (3:01)

    It's a music video, and I'm not a big fan of music videos...

Deleted Scenes (10:26)

    Some of there are extended versions, rather than deleted scenes.

Featurette: A Conversation with Bill Murray and Sofia Coppola (9:46)

    This is quite good, with Bill Murray tweaking a couple of unexpected answers out of Sofia Coppola. Recommended.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 disc has been out for a little while now. I had it sent over when it was released. Now I have the Region 4 to compare with it, and I wish I hadn't bothered to get the R1. The extras on the two discs are quite similar, except that the Region 1 disc includes the theatrical trailer that the R4 misses. The R1 has a choice of Dolby Digital or dts for the English soundtrack, but this is not a film where dts will make any significant difference. The big difference between the R4 and the R1 is that the R1's transfer is quite dark, much darker than the R4, making it harder to watch, particularly given that so much of the film takes place at night anyway.

    In short, I recommend the R4 over the R1.


    An excellent movie that doesn't feel obliged to follow conventions, on a very good disc.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is quite good.

    The extras are good.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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Comments (Add)
Transfer quality in different regions -
'R's & 'L's are mixed up the wrong way! -