Sofia Coppola finally explains the end of Lost in Translation

You know what we mean. THE WHISPER.

by Roisin Lanigan
20 November 2020, 11:51am

Sofia Coppola has waded into the 17-year-long speculation surrounding what Bill Murray whispers in Scarlett Johansson’s ear at the end of Lost In Translation, lending a little bit of certainty to a year of uncertainty. We’re eternally grateful, honestly. 

Except that, in true 2020 style, there’s not actually much certainty here at all, when you dig a little deeper. For years, lip readers and hawk-eyed viewers have been trying to unpack the iconic ending to the 2003 movie, but until now, the director herself has stayed out of it. Even today, she’s coy about the content of the intimate whisper, saying it’s open to interpretation.

“I was thinking about the Italians, because they used to film and add the sound later,” Sofia explained on the fourth episode of BBC Arts’ Life Cinematic, an series of in-depth explorations of film for BBC4. “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.” 

What began as an homage to Italian cinema has become one of modern film’s great mysteries, something the director herself never expected. “I was kind of stuck, like how are we going to convey the epicness of that moment?” she says. “But I never meant it to be that way, so some things work out in a way that you don’t expect.” 

Suitably mysterious. Thanks for that. 

Sofia Coppola
Lost in Translation