Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The "Lost in Translation Tour"

The movie Lost in Translation really captures what it is like to be in Japan and does a good job exploring the disorientation and loneliness that comes with overseas travel. Since I like the movie so much, I thought it would be interesting to check out the places in Tokyo where it was filmed. If I'm lucky, maybe I'll run into American dish actress Scarlett Johansson hanging out at a former shooting location. Let's see how I do:

Park Hyatt - This is where most of the movie takes place and is only a few blocks from my hotel in Shinjuku. The place is fantastic - it makes the upper end business hotels stay in seem like Motel Sixes. Since I wasn't a guest I couldn't check out a room or the fitness center, but here is what I did notice:

Elevators - Yep, they're the real Park Hyatt elevators in the movie. That little statue above Murray's head is the give-away. What was interesting about this main elevator is that on the ground floor the light is subdued, and as you go up the forty or so stories where the lobby is located, the light gets brighter and brighter as you ascend. It made for an interesting psychological effect.

The Bar - Yep, the bar parts of the movie were definitely filmed in the Park Hyatt's New York Bar on the 52nd floor. The square lamps are the give-away, plus I recognized it from other scenes in the movie which I don't have stills for.

The place was empty when I was there since even the Japanese don't booze it up on Sunday mornings.
While it was neat to be at the shooting location, I saw no signs of Johansenn. It was a pretty Sunday morning, so maybe she went out to an outdoor shooting location.
Shibuya - There were a few scenes filmed here, most notably the one where she watched the big video monitor and walked across the street in the rain. It was also the area used in the movie poster.

This is Shibuya. Right behind her umbrella below the big monitor is a Starbucks that overlooks what is supposedly the busiest cross-walk in Tokyo. I don't know how they measure something like that, but it is pretty damn busy. The pictures I took from the Starbucks (and where they set up the camera for several of the shots) don't look that busy, but at night this place is a sea of people. It is then that Shibuya lives up to its reputation.

Still no Scarlett. Where else could I look?
Artistic License - One of the things about being familiar with Tokyo is that I catch the places in the movie that aren't quite true.

At the end Scarlett is seen walking down a shopping area near the hotel when Murray's character catches up to her and whispers something in her ear. Well, folks, there are plenty of places like that in Tokyo, but none are near the Park Hyatt. The closest area would be Shinjuku, and that is a good 10-15 minute walk away. Murray wouldn't catch her like he did just a block or so from the hotel.

The other thing I noticed is at the end when Murray is going to the airport he is heading towards Heneda, the domestic airport, rather than Narita, which is for international flights. But the scenery to Haneda is more interesting, so that is why they used it.
So it looks like my search for Scarlett was unsuccessful. However, it was still fun to check out the places where the movie was shot.

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