Study Guide

Lost in Translation What's Up With The Ending?

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What's Up With The Ending?

Nobody knows what Bob whispers to Charlotte.

The end.

Wait, you want more explanation than that? Okay, here goes: Nobody but Bill Murray and Scarlett Johannsson knows what Bob whispers to Charlotte and the end of the movie—and Murray's not telling. He improvised the dialogue in that scene, so even writer-director Sofia Coppola doesn't know.

Here's what the dialogue that was in the original script:

BOB: Why are you crying?

CHARLOTTE: I'll miss you.

(He kisses her, hugs her good-bye.)

BOB: I know. I'm going to miss you, too.

Meh. We're glad Murray made something else up, and so are online cinema conspiracy theorists. Back in 2013, Vulture's Jesse David Fox compiled several of the most high-profile fan theories about what Bob whispers to Charlotte into this article. Here are some of the "What did he say?" contenders:

"I have to be leaving, but I won't let that come between us. Okay?"
"You'll always be an independent woman; don't part mad. Tell the truth. Okay."
"When John is waiting on the next business trip, go up to that man, and tell him the truth. Okay?"

The internet seems to think that Bob wants Charlotte to tell John the truth, but about what? That she doesn't know him anymore? That she's unhappy? That, after two weeks in Tokyo, she's in love with Bob? That she's been buying cheap olive oil and pouring it into the expensive olive oil bottle for the past, like, 11 months?

You're right. We're just piling questions on to questions. That's not helpful. Here's the theory to which we're partial:

It doesn't matter what he says. The whole point is that we can't hear it.

Think about it: Bob and Charlotte bond super-tight super-fast because, in a world that's huge and merciless, they get each other. Their relationship is easy and intimate from the start, two qualities sorely lacking from their respective marriages. Bob and Charlotte exist in a private universe built for two and insulated by the cultural and linguistic communication barriers of Tokyo.

When Bob and Charlotte are together, who cares that the rest of the planet doesn't understand them? They understand each other, and they don't need anyone else.

In other words, their emotional parting words on a crowded Tokyo street are an A – B conversation, and we can all just C ourselves out of it. All we need to know—all we're entitled to know as onlookers—is that Bob's finally happy.

That's just our theory, though. If time travel's more your thing, scope out this redditor's notion that Bob is actually John, who’s journeyed back to 2003 from the future.

Why didn’t Roger Ebert figure that one out?

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