Can someone please justify the butt shot at the start?

Discuss the fabulous movie Lost In Translation!

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Pitman
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#21 Post by Pitman » Tue May 09, 2006 8:15 am

Beery, I agree with you. However, different strokes for different folks, or one man's meat is another man's poison. The point is we all interpret what is and what isn't controversial individually based on our conditionings and education.

Neither do I interpret the opening shot as controversial to need justification, but I can understand how many would.

What's interesting is that Sofia knows many will interpret it as a controversial shot. Then the words "Lost In Translation" come on screen under the bottom. And it's almost as if she is saying look at this shot, if you think it's controversial then you are losing it in translation, the translation through our pre-conceptions, conditionings, beliefs and education

As far as I'm concerned, it's Art.

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#22 Post by Beery » Tue May 09, 2006 9:27 am

Pitman wrote:Beery, I agree with you. However, different strokes for different folks...
Well, 'different strokes for different folks' is only a good thing if everyone's different strokes are harmless. When people view nudity as 'morally wrong' or 'needing justification', i.e. when people make an a priori assumption that bodies should be fully clothed in order to be decent, then we're on the road to prudery and puritanism. I find it interesting that the originator of this thread focuses on the arguably inoffensive 'butt shot' at the beginning of the movie when it involves a caucasian woman, but he/she ignores more gratuitous images of sex and nudity towards the end of the film in which Japanese people are shown quite literally as sex objects. I wonder why that is?
You want more mysterious? I'll just try and think, "Where the hell's the whiskey?"

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#23 Post by Cryogenic » Sun Oct 14, 2007 11:41 am

I like Sofia's "reasoning" here. The "butt scene" just . . . "is". Mind you, I feel she's being a little disingenuous. However, that's probably the way her remarks were edited. She goes into much more detail here:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/stor ... Id=1692826

The opening shot was based, as Sofia indicates in the above interview, on a series of paintings by John Kacere. If you put his name into Google and filter it to "images", you'll see this in seconds. So the opening shot is an acknowledgement of his work, as well as being a homage to Stanley Kubrick's "Lolita", also indicated by Sofia in that interview.

This is my own take on the opening scene. I originally wrote this in my IMDb review of the film:

Sofia Coppola chooses to open her second picture with the unexpected appearance of Scarlett Johansson's semi-naked buttocks. On the big screen, it's impressive, and on any other screen, it manages to entice. But this is just the beginning. In many ways, it doesn't even seem that. The image is seductive but dislocated -- it's just there. Then the title credit appears: "Lost In Translation". It's like Coppola is having some massive joke at our expense. What's there to translate about such a sight -- much less to lose in translation? We're immediately intrigued by the voyeuristic nonchalance of it. It is this same casualness, hiding real intent, that shapes and sustains the picture. For at its heart, "Lost In Translation" is a hypnotic tone poem for desire and the need to reach out and find meaning. The butt-image functions as a motif: in the bold sensuousness, yet comic randomness of it, we are being made to lust for something -- but we are at a loss to make sense of it, just as the film's characters find themselves lusting for things they can't readily define.

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#24 Post by hannidan » Sun Oct 14, 2007 2:10 pm

The opening butt shot also provides a nice contrast with the first scenes of the movie, Bob riding to the Hyatt. Here, on one hand, is a young, semi-nude woman, resting in the safety and quiet of her room, then the very next shots are of a exhausted middle-aged man, fully dressed, riding in a cab through a strange city, very much exposed. It is sort of like their entire relationship throughout the movie. Both feeling the same way but being different people in different circumstances.

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#25 Post by Cryogenic » Thu Oct 18, 2007 12:02 pm

hannidan wrote:The opening butt shot also provides a nice contrast with the first scenes of the movie, Bob riding to the Hyatt. Here, on one hand, is a young, semi-nude woman, resting in the safety and quiet of her room, then the very next shots are of a exhausted middle-aged man, fully dressed, riding in a cab through a strange city, very much exposed. It is sort of like their entire relationship throughout the movie. Both feeling the same way but being different people in different circumstances.
I love how you've plumbed the depths of Sofia's film art here. I think that "Lost in Translation" is very much defined by counterbalancing rhythms. Another that now comes to mind is that the opening shot counterbalances Charlotte's final appearance, where she is facing the camera and coming towards us, and also Bob's final appearance, where he leaves enriched and focused, sitting upright in the car, both of which contrast with the depersonalised body shot of an as-yet unknown individual, ambiguously sleeping or attempting to sleep, and lying away from us. LiT is visually elegant -- in a way that quietly seems to have redefined the cinematic medium and what we now expect from it.

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#26 Post by hannidan » Sat Oct 20, 2007 11:09 am

You're absolutely right Cryogenic, I have never connected the opening and closing scenes like that. What a difference in Bob at the end of the story, rejuvenated. One of the things that I love about this forum is how the members have helped me further appreciate the depth of this movie. It is truely "elegant".

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#27 Post by Bob_san » Sun Oct 21, 2007 12:45 pm

I'm lovin' it! :D

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