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Lost In Translation Karaoke Scene Analysis Essays

 Added on March 10, 2015 Peter N. Chumo II

Honoring the Little Moments: Lost in Translation

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An interview with Sofia Coppola, and an examination of her Oscar-winning screenplay.

By Peter N. Chumo II.

Sophia Coppola

When Sofia Coppola began writing Lost in Translation, her first original screenplay after her adaptation of The Virgin Suicides, she knew there were certain elements she wanted to build the movie around. “From the time I spent in Japan,” she told me, “I always wanted to do a movie there, and I wanted to work with Bill Murray… and also I wanted to write a story that was kind of sweet and romantic.” From these desires came one of the year’s best screenplays, a meditative film that details the burgeoning friendship of two Americans who feel lost and make an unlikely connection at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Japan.

Young Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) has just graduated from Yale with a degree in philosophy and is tagging along with her photographer husband, who increasingly seems to be drifting away from her. She is very intelligent but aimless about her future and depressed about her lack of direction. Bob Harris (Bill Murray) is a middle-aged movie star shilling for a whiskey company for a fat two-million-dollar paycheck when, as he himself concedes, he “should be doing movies.” He appears to be growing apart from his wife of twenty-five years and does not feel needed at home. Both Charlotte and Bob are in a crisis, one in early adulthood and the other in midlife.

Scarlett Johansson as Charlotte and Bill Murray as Bob Harris in Lost in Translation

As audiences might conjecture, Coppola admits that there is a lot of her in Charlotte, especially her younger self being “just out of college” and asking “what do I do with my life?” Charlotte tried to be a writer and photographer, paths that Coppola has taken through her filmmaking. (Coppola even put together forty pages of photo references and gave them to people working on the film to illustrate the feelings she wanted to convey.) But even Kelly, “the cheesy actress character,” as Coppola describes her, exhibits another side of herself, “saying dumb things to be cute,” although she relates less to that character. Coppola did not do a lot of rewriting on the script and says she did not “overthink it and map it out because I find it’s better just to go in the dark and figure it out as you go.” Like her protagonists, who are not sure where they are going and are headed on a journey into the unknown, Coppola was on her own journey, living in the moment and searching out the “details that feel like a bigger deal” to build the delicate relationship between Bob and Charlotte. She likens the experience to painting: “When you’re working on it, it just looks terrible and doesn’t look like anything, and then all of a sudden it’s done.”

Coppola’s script is anything but “terrible,” but, because it is sparse and consists of many scenes of characters staring out of windows or meandering down streets, searching for some deeper meaning that is constantly eluding them, this way of working is certainly a risk. Unafraid to luxuriate in the long silence of a moment rather than filling each scene with meaningless noise, Lost in Translation is a film that defies Hollywood convention. This is best exemplified in the following sequence in which Charlotte takes a lengthy walk on her own:

It is hard to tell from this description of Charlotte visiting a temple just how beautiful and moving the scene will be when realized on film. Coppola knew from the outset the chance she was taking and “worried that it could just be really indulgent, really boring.” But she stayed true to her vision and shot the film “for really a low budget so that if it was a total disaster, it would never have to come out.”

But if Coppola did not do a lot of rewriting at script stage, she was willing to try different things on the set. She is “not uptight about dialogue changing” and would let her actors improvise if they had a better line, and sometimes she would alter lines if they were not working. When Bob and Charlotte meet for the first time and they exchange stories about their backgrounds, Bob takes her back to his young adulthood and the strange circumstances by which he ended up with his wife:

Coppola finally felt that this story was “kinda grim” for the tone she was seeking and cut it from the script. It may have been interesting on the page, but in the context of Bob’s overall story, it adds an extra layer that is not needed and does not serve the overall story.

While Coppola does not do much rewriting, reordering scenes during editing is a kind of final rewrite that allows her to clarify her characters. For example, there is a scene of Charlotte crying on the telephone to a friend of hers back home. She is speaking of the void she feels within her, how even when she visited a shrine and heard monks chanting, she did not feel anything, and how her husband is slipping away from her. Originally, this scene appeared later in the film, but Coppola chose to move it earlier so that we would understand Charlotte’s state of mind. We would have a context for what she is going through as she is walking the streets of Tokyo and Kyoto. Improvisation played a role in the shooting of the script, but usually it was a kind of guided improvisation—a unique collaboration between writer, director and actor that captures magical moments that can only happen through the spontaneous, creative interplay of a movie set. For instance, in the droll photo shoot sequence, Coppola cast a real photographer in the role and would whisper impromptu things in his ear, which he would then repeat as dialogue once the camera started rolling so that Murray could react to him in the moment. Thus, we have Murray’s hilarious, unrehearsed send-ups of the Rat Pack and James Bond.

Other times it was a matter of tweaking a line or two. One of the things that appealed to Coppola about Murray was that, if something was not working, she could have him try something else. She might ask him, for example, to create a line as Bob that would make Charlotte laugh. In one of their early encounters in the hotel bar, they hint at the mutual feelings they have of being trapped—Charlotte in her husband’s shadow and Bob in his celebrity-centered existence. In the script, Bob asks in mock desperation, “Who do I have to fuck to get off this planet?” But in the film, Murray improvises a line that better suggests a conspiracy between them, thus making them allies standing against the world at large: “Can you keep a secret? I’m trying to organize a prison break, and I’m looking for, like, an accomplice. We’d have to first get out of this bar, then the hotel, then the city, and then the country. Are you in, or are you out?”

Coppola appreciates “meandering mood pieces,” films like Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love, which details an intense friendship that does not become sexual, and classic works by Godard and Fellini. She even references La Dolce Vita when Bob and Charlotte watch it on TV (Coppola recalled seeing La Dolce Vita in a hotel in Japan with Japanese subtitles and wanted to include it in the film). From Charlotte’s participating in the ancient art of Ikebana floral design with some older women who guide her in the ritual, to writing a wish on a piece of paper and tying it to a tree, many scenes in Lost in Translation revolve around, as Coppola beautifully puts it, “honoring a moment.” She enjoyed the idea of “looking at something…when it’s at its peak or at its most beautiful moment” before it is gone. This idea may be summed up best when Charlotte and Bob are up late talking in his hotel room and she tells him, “Let’s never come here again because it would never be as much fun.” She is being playful and perhaps a tad melodramatic, but she is also expressing something serious about the experience she is having—she knows intuitively that their time together, just the two of them, could never be duplicated in another time and place because real-world concerns would impinge on the little world they have created for themselves. Charlotte has, in Coppola’s words, come to “appreciate that moment because you can never recreate it in the same way.”

Maggie Cheung as Su Li-zhen and Tony Leung as Chow Mo-wan in In the Mood for Love

This idea of “honoring a moment” can also apply to one of the most fun and entertaining scenes in the film, the karaoke party. The script is sparse about what exactly would happen in this scene. Coppola knew she wanted both characters to sing but was not sure at script stage what those songs would be. The script has Charlotte singing “Happy Together,” but this must have been a placeholder for Coppola, who finally chose the Pretenders’ “Brass in Pocket” for Charlotte because it is a karaoke standard and it is the kind of song that would allow Charlotte to put on a show for Bob and be flirtatious, thus revealing a different side of her. This was important in rounding off the character so that the audience would see that Charlotte, as Coppola puts it, “isn’t this mopey girl in a hotel room, that she has some life to her when she’s in a situation that’s interesting to her. She does have a spark to her.” At the same time, it becomes a “vulnerable moment” for Bob. Coppola, then, is an intuitive writer; even though she does not do much formal rewriting, details that have not yet been nailed down can be addressed creatively once shooting begins.

For Bob, Elvis Costello’s “(What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” was chosen to show he is from a different generation, and “More Than This” was selected during rehearsal because both Coppola and Murray love Roxy Music and the tender lyrics (courtesy of Bryan Ferry) worked so well in the scene:

 

I could feel at the time

There was no way of knowing

Fallen leaves in the night

Who can say where they’re blowing?

As free as the wind

Hopefully learning

Why the sea on the tide

Has no way of turning

 

 

This is yet another example of an unscripted, improvised moment that nonetheless did not come about haphazardly. The lyrics speak of transience in nature (the unpredictability of the leaves, the wind, the sea), which evokes the spirit of the fleeting yet languorous moments Bob and Charlotte share together.

The karaoke scene works first as an emotional release, a party where the characters can let loose after so many quiet scenes in which they have turned inward, unable to speak their minds even to the people closest to them. Charlotte’s husband is so self-absorbed that he hardly listens to her, and Bob’s wife seems so immersed in her redecorating schemes that she cannot fathom the melancholy side of her husband. When Bob tells Charlotte about marriage from the vantage point of twenty-five years and explains that he used to have fun with his wife, his words are a gentle reminder to himself of that fun side he has ignored. And yet in a roomful of strangers, in a foreign land, they can express an aspect of themselves that they would not be comfortable showing to their closest loved ones, and can act out a liberated, idealized version of themselves. At the conclusion of the karaoke sequence, Bob and Charlotte sit quietly together in repose, and she gently leans her head against his shoulder. The script has a few lines of dialogue in which Charlotte observes that Bob bites his fingernails, but the filmed version has no dialogue at all, just the intimate gesture of Bob taking a drag off her cigarette. Delicate, intimate gestures define Bob and Charlotte’s relationship.

After the karaoke scene, we are treated to a subtle hint of Bob’s growing affection for Charlotte:

Thus we see his sense of longing, quietly portrayed by Murray in the film but already suggested in the script. In another scene, they grow closer verbally, discussing the life’s problems that Bob may be able to help Charlotte with:

From encouraging her in her career, they go on to talk about marriage and the difficulties he has encountered. It is a tender scene in which the older generation offers some advice—not wisdom that will magically solve Charlotte’s problems but just a little assurance that she is not alone, that other people have gone through the same doubts and anxieties that she is experiencing at such a young age. At one point, his hand softly touches her ankle—a subtly erotic gesture that hints at his attraction but does not push it too far. At other times, the heartfelt gesture between them is playful, as when Bob rushes Charlotte to the hospital for her injured toe—it is not a life-and-death matter, but pretending it is allows Bob to care for her:

Bob is obviously being funny and serious at the same time, but Charlotte enjoys his concern and their mad rush to the emergency room that follows, a kind of wild adventure that makes her feel special, a feeling she does not seem to get from her husband.

The power of a simple gesture reaches its apex in the film’s concluding sequence. Bob is departing for home after having experienced a kind of minirelationship with Charlotte all compressed within a week’s time, a notion that appealed to Coppola. They have met, gone out together, had fun, and shared their most intimate feelings about life and marriage. He has “cheated” on her in his one-night stand with the hotel’s lounge singer, which has hurt her, and they have subsequently made up. So their farewell scene had to be special and intimate. Coppola admits that she “didn’t have a solution in dialogue that gave that feeling,” and indeed the script’s version of the farewell is rather mundane considering the well of emotions that have built up in this couple:

So, to enrich the ending, Murray held Johansson close and improvised a whisper in her ear. The sound was muffled, but Coppola knew that she could add the words later in postproduction. However, she chose not to add the dialogue, feeling instead that it was better that it “stays between the two of them.” It is a beguiling ending that can frustrate audiences looking for a statement that sums it all up, but to take the obvious way would be to deny the uniqueness of their relationship. No simple statement could possibly be as powerful as the unknown, which mirrors the sense that we really do not know where they are headed.

Coppola also knew that she wanted a final gesture in which Bob “acknowledges that there was something between them, that she’s attractive to him.” So during one take, she asked Murray to kiss Johansson, and, caught completely off guard, Johansson reacted genuinely when Murray gave her a passionate kiss on the lips. The fact that the main scenes between Bob and Charlotte were shot in order and the farewell was filmed on Johansson’s last day of shooting helped heighten the emotion for her. It has a sexual undertone, of course, but it does not suggest that Bob wants something more from Charlotte. Rather, it suggests closure for this chapter in her life as she walks away, seemingly fortified by this gesture of love.

Coppola’s screenplay for Lost in Translation is deceptively simple, but behind it is a writer who knew what she wanted in the broad sense but was open to trying out different ideas as she shot the film. Through this method, she has created a film whose accrual of details and small gestures, such as a look of wistful longing, can be just as effective as a whole page of dialogue. In this way, Coppola’s method is a reflection of the journey her characters take. A relatively loose, intuitive style of working has produced a lovingly detailed portrait of two wandering souls who share a special rapport just in acknowledging that each is not alone in searching for something deeper in life. Coppola not only honors the little moments that compose their journey but honors the larger moment that is their week together, showing the bond that can form when two seemingly incompatible but kindred spirits meet and touch something deep within the other.

This article first appeared in Creative Screenwriting volume 11, #1

by Peter N. Chumo II

Peter N. Chumo II is one of Creative Screenwriting's freelance journalists.

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by Homay King

From Film QuarterlyAutumn 2005, Vol. 59, No. 1

Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation (2003) is littered with familiar signifiers for an unfamiliar Japan: streets ablaze with neon pictographs, bowing concierges bustling after guests in a high-tech hotel, pop-star hipsters with multicolored hair sporting synthetic fashions. Marketed as a comedy, the film prompts snickers of amusement from its Western audience. But its humor did not translate well with Japanese audiences: the film’s Japanese distributor, Tohokushinsha Co., opted for a delayed opening at a single Tokyo movie theater, with a website trailer as its sole advertisement. Local critics were not laughing either: Yoshio Tsuchiya called the film “stereotypical and discriminatory”; the writer Kotaro Sawaki noted that the Japanese characters “are consistently portrayed as foolish.”1 Indeed, the film’s Orientalism is marked enough to have prompted the Los Angles-based non-profit organization Asian Media Watch to launch a campaign against its four Academy Award nominations. Despite such protests, the film garnered the award for best original screenplay, and the majority of American critics have continued to rave about its nuanced representation of cultural alienation.

With Lost in Translation, Coppola wavers between insight into the comedy of cultural difference and clichéd cultural stereotyping. On occasion, the balance tips in her favor. Lost in Translation does not claim to represent Tokyo authentically, objectively, or thoroughly; rather, every image has the fresh quality and provisional status of a first impression. But nor does the film sufficiently clarify that its real subject is not Tokyo itself, but Western perceptions of Tokyo—in particular, the fantasies that two lonely Americans project onto the city and its residents. When Japan appears superficial, inappropriately erotic, or unintelligible, we are never completely sure whether this vision belongs to Coppola, to her characters, or simply to a Hollywood cinematic imaginary that has been offering up such images of the East at least since Cecil B. DeMille’s 1915 The Cheat, as described by scholar Gina Marchetti.2 We remain unsure whose pair of murky glasses we are wearing, lost without reference points in a Pacific-wide ocean of fantasies.

Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson—two lonely Americans in Lost in Translation

It was of course the late Edward Said who wrote the book on Orientalism. While his study concerns Western Europe’s relation to the Arab world, rather than the United States’ relation to East Asia, Said’s text is still an illuminating one in this context. “Everyone who writes about the Orient,” Said cautions, “must locate himself vis-à-vis the Orient.” This location, Said continues, is not spatial, but rather discursive, subjective, and perceptual. It includes “the kind of narrative voice” the author adopts, “the type of structure” the text assumes, and “the kinds of images, themes, and motifs” that circulate within it, all of which, according to Said, ultimately conspire to “contain” the Orient: to “represent or speak on its behalf.”3 In a way, we could say that a film like Lost in Translation breaks from the tradition of Orientalism that Said is describing because its author never clearly locates herself in relation to the city and people she films. We feel like aloof tourists at one turn and intimate locals at the next. Coppola’s camera adopts an ambiguous attitude, combining dazzled humility with bemused condescension. At no point, it is true, do we securely occupy the confident position of the superior Western gaze upon the non-Western. But the film ends up containing the Orient and “speaking on its behalf” in another way: by representing it as a space where an American may get lost, but without being significantly changed or unmoored by the experience. As Scarlett Johansson’s character puts it, she “doesn’t feel anything” when she encounters her cultural others.

Our guides on the journey are Bob Harris (Bill Murray), a fading, B-level Hollywood actor who travels to Tokyo to shoot a Suntory whiskey advertisement, and Charlotte (Johansson), a recent Yale graduate, already bored in her marriage, who has accompanied her music-producer husband on a trip to film a video. Both characters have lost their bearings, the compasses of their desire momentarily set adrift by the very images through which they had previously defined themselves. Charlotte and Bob meet by chance in the New York Bar of the Park Hyatt Hotel, where lounge singers croon tepid versions of American pop songs as tourists sip their American cocktails. Charlotte recognizes Bob from his movies. Along with the setting, this dose of the familiar provides an antidote to their homesickness and insomnia that will spark an eroticized yet sublimated friendship.

When Bob shows up for his photo shoot, he is confronted with the images that Japanese culture has projected onto him as a representative of Hollywood masculinity. The photographer commands him to assume various iconic poses—a James Bond wink, a Dean Martin swagger—as he reluctantly tips his glass for the camera. The scene is acted and shot for humor at the expense of the Japanese perception of what a desirable American male looks like: how he sits and gestures, what kind of suit he wears, what kind of whiskey he drinks. The more Bob gives the photographer what he wants, the more he is emasculated, both because he is following the orders of a man who cannot correctly pronounce “Rat Pack,” and because the images he recreates seem antiquated and fey by contemporary American standards. But this emasculation does not stick to Bob. It is returned to sender: attributed to Japanese naïveté rather than to its American source.

Many scenes in Lost in Translation would seem to present opportunities for the mirror to be held up in the other direction. But because point of view is limited to Bob and Charlotte, we see more of their incomprehension than that of their hosts. The camera emphasizes Bob’s bewildered reaction to the bowing greeters at the hotel, his face an amalgam of jet lag and sarcasm. When a call girl arrives at his hotel room, the camera seems to share his vaguely repulsed indifference. The film prompts us to read this incident, as well as his quick exit from an after-hours strip club, as a comment on Japanese sexuality and gender roles rather than on American prudishness. The film focalizes these images through Bob: it is the greeter, not he, who looks ridiculous; it is the dancer who is overly salacious, not he who projects this image onto her. Other scenes in the film—Bob’s appearance on a Japanese television show, for instance—share in this attitude.

There are a few scenes where we get an inkling that the incomprehension is mutual, a flicker of understanding that the West might also be an exotic enigma for the East. In a scene at a hospital waiting room, for instance, a stranger asks Bob in Japanese how many years he has been in Japan. Failing to understand, Bob can only mimic a few syllables; his interlocutor bursts into laughter. The tables are turned: West now imitates East. But on the whole, Lost in Translation makes but minimal efforts to rewrite the myths of Asia that Hollywood film has been recycling for nearly a century: the Orient as primitive, feminized, and eroticized; Asian citizens as alternately silly or perilous, enigmatic and cloaked in artifice. Such myths can be traced to historical factors such as the Opium Wars, nineteenth-century immigration patterns from China, the traumas of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. But they also fulfill a psychical need, a projection whereby Hollywood’s Tokyos and Chinatowns become a kind of cinematic dumping ground for anything that defies Western comprehension.4

Set adrift on the streets of Tokyo …

How, then, does one make a film about one people’s projections onto another, one culture’s fantasies about another, without reproducing those very projections? How does one represent what is lost in translation from both sides? The task may ultimately be impossible: to strip away those projections entirely would require a vision unencumbered—and unen-hanced—by the human psyche. But Coppola’s earlier film, The Virgin Suicides, handles an analogous transaction more deftly. In The Virgin Suicides, a group of adolescent boys fantasize about the five beautiful sisters who live across the street as, one by one, these sisters take their own lives. Wanting to communicate, but not knowing how to crack through the walls of the girls’ enchanted castle, the boys can only watch and send coded messages by phonograph. The sisters remain a mystery; their actions are never fully explained. But if they are reduced to Ophelia-like ciphers of tragic girlhood, it is because this film is not really about them: it is about the boys’ fascination with them. The Virgin Suicides is about the boys’ struggle to sift through the thickly layered images of 1970s idealized femininity—Brady Bunch sisters, Barbie dolls, Karen Carpenter, echoes of the von Trapp family—and find the human beings underneath. This story is equally important to tell, because, as the film makes clear, the girls’ own subjectivities are not distinct from but shaped by these very images.

Lost in Translation might have benefited from a similar treatment—from a clarification that its Japan is but an amalgam of signs and images. It might also have benefited from the influence of earlier films that address the theme of Western perceptions of the East. Chris Marker’s Sans soleil (1983), Leslie Thornton’s Adynata (1983), and Wim Wenders’ Tokyo-Ga (1985) and Notebook on Cities and Clothes (1989) come to mind. Of particular relevance is Tokyo-Ga, which documents the filmmaker’s trip to Japan in the spring of 1983. Initially, Wenders goes to research Yasujiro Ozu, but he soon becomes entranced by the landscape as a whole: he films Pachinko parlors, indoor golf ranges, and a factory where artificial plastic foods are produced. Part essay, part travelogue, Tokyo-Ga is narrated from multiple “locations,” in Said’s sense. Wenders speaks to us in voiceover as pilgrim, film historian, and poet-philosopher. At one turn he applies the researcher’s detached gaze to Japanese athletics; at another he reveals the depths of his love for Yuuharu Atsuta’s cinematography. But at each point, Wenders specifies the context of his perceptions and marks his relationship to them. Like Roland Barthes’ Empire of Signs, a book of meditative fragments inspired by a similar trip, Tokyo-Ga makes clear that it “in no way attempts to represent reality itself.” Rather, it could be said, in Barthes’ words, to “descend into the untranslatable … without attempting to muffle its shock.”5

An example of this occurs when Wenders shows two sets of images of the Shinjuko neighborhood in Tokyo, filmed first with his own lens, and then a second time with the 50-millimeter lens preferred by Ozu. “Another image presented itself,” he tells us, “one that no longer belonged to me.” Soon after, Wenders happens upon a group of Japanese teenagers in 1950s styles of dress, earnestly lindy-hopping as the music of Elvis Presley sounds from a boom box in a public park. At no time, however, does Wenders’ camera smirk at them. Rather, it seems to marvel at the inextricable mixture of East and West, and at the emergence of the past into the present in such an unexpected and vital form. Unlike the photographers and karaoke singers in Lost in Translation, these dancers are not foreign copycats mimicking and pirating a superior American ideal. Rather, their rockabilly masks are donned with all the self-consciousness of Kabuki actors. They do not transcribe 1950s America; they translate it.

Lost in Translation, on the other hand, emphasizes what is mimicked without understanding, what escapes translation. Sensations of incomprehension, of loss of control, of forgetting even the time of day, tend to dominate. These sensations, the film makes clear, can be highly pleasurable, and even transformative when one is open to them. Coppola’s images of Tokyo streets viewed through the windows of taxis reveal a carnival of sirenlike signs, ablaze and saturating the skyline. During an extended nightlife sequence, Bob and Charlotte rent a karaoke room in a high-rise building; its façade appears as if sectioned into hundreds of television screens. This image calls attention to its representational status, its status as sign rather than reality. Cityscapes that appear to defy the laws of Western perspective, curving off-ramps that seem to defy gravity—these are rendered all the more exhilarating because Bob and Charlotte cannot read them, and thus may appreciate them for their visual properties. Such images revel in the feeling of lostness without attempting to muffle its shock with cheap humor.

One scene in Lost in Translation appears to quote another of Wenders’ films, Paris, Texas. This is a kindred film in that it represents a European perception of a foreign place, the American West. In one scene, the eight-year-old Hunter sits in the window of a Houston, Texas, hotel listening to a tape recording that his father has left for him: a goodbye letter. Hunter’s body outlined against the views of an alien city, the disembodied voice of his father both bridging and highlighting the sense of disconnection—these qualities are also apparent in an image of Coppola’s, in which Charlotte sits in her Tokyo hotel-room window talking on the telephone to a relative back home. The reference is subtle enough that the quotation cannot be vouchsafed; I cannot really tell whether I am projecting it onto Coppola’s film. But perhaps this is what Lost in Translation can teach us: that an authentic essence can never be fully distinguished from the barrage of signifiers that are slathered onto it. The trick, then, is to chart that risky territory with care, and with openness to new ways of seeing.

NOTES

1. Yoshio Tsuchiya, trans. Fumie Nakamura, film review in Yomiuri Shimbun (April 19, 2004); Kotaro Sawaki, film review in Asahi Shimbun, quoted in V. A. Musetto, “‘Lost’ in Transition,” New York Post (May 21, 2004).

2. See Gina Marchetti, Romance and the “Yellow Peril”: Race, Sex, and Discursive Strategies in Hollywood Fiction (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1993).

3. Edward W. Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage, 1979),20.

4. For more detailed studies of the psychical mechanisms that underlie this type of racialized subjectivity, see Anne Cheng’s The Melancholy of Race: Psychoanalysis, Assimilation, and Hidden Grief (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001) and David Eng’s Racial Castration: Managing Masculinity in Asian America (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2001).

5. Roland Barthes, Empire of Signs, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Hill and Wang, 1982), 3.

Homay King is Assistant Professor of Film Studies in the Department of History of Art at Bryn Mawr College. Her essays have appeared in Camera Obscura, Discourse, and Qui Parle.

This entry was posted in:Issues

Tagged with:Feminism, Film Reviews, Homay King, Lost In Translation, Sofia Coppola, Women in Film