Sofia Coppola on Lost In Translation’s enigmatic final scene

Keiran Southern, PA
·2-min read

Sofia Coppola has revealed why she never added a more conclusive ending to her critically acclaimed film Lost In Translation, after the enigmatic final scene left fans guessing.

The 2003 romantic comedy starred Bill Murray as a fading movie star who meets Scarlett Johansson’s recent college graduate at a Tokyo hotel.

The final scene shows Murray whispering in Johansson’s ear, though it was never revealed what he said.

Sofia Coppola appeared on the BBC’s Life Cinematic and discussed her 2003 movie Lost In Translation (Steve Youll/BBC/PA)
Sofia Coppola appeared on the BBC’s Life Cinematic and discussed her 2003 movie Lost In Translation (Steve Youll/BBC/PA)

Director Coppola, who won the best original screenplay Oscar for the film, has revealed she originally planned to add sound but found the silence to be a much more powerful ending.

Appearing on the BBC’s Life Cinematic, she told presenter Edith Bowman: “I was thinking about the Italians, because they used to film and add the sound later. I didn’t intend for it to be silent and then in the editing we were like, ‘oh it’s better if it’s just between them and the audience puts their own interpretation, it’s so much stronger that way’.

“It wasn’t directly, but it did  kind of start out as an homage to the Italians, and also because I was kind of stuck, like how are we going to convey the epicness of that moment. But I never meant it to be that way, so some things work out in a way that you don’t expect.”

Coppola has again teamed up with Murray, 70, for drama On The Rocks. He plays the father of Rashida Jones’ character, a suspicious wife tailing her husband.

Coppola said that while she did not directly base Felix, Murray’s character, on her father, Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola, the plot is based on real life events.

She said: “No, my dad’s not like Felix, but of course that love and bond that’s so specific to your dad is definitely in it, but my dad’s not like a bon vivant, as over the top as Felix.

“It’s definitely from a mix of a bunch of guys of that generation all put together in this funny character that Bill brings to life. But I did have a friend who spied on her husband with her playboy father, and that was the beginning seed of the story. But I’ve never done that.”

Sofia Coppola: Life Cinematic is on BBC Four on Wednesday November 25.