For become obsessed with five sisters who are

For a director to stand out today with the abundance of
movies coming out they must be unique. A director utilises many skills to
produce and promote a movie which becomes associated with them, and becomes their

Sofia Coppola is an American screenwriter, director and
producer. Her father is Francis Ford Coppola, also a well-known director for
films such as The Godfather. Sophia has a distinct authorship which focuses
around the intriguing concepts of her movies and how she portrays this
visually. I will be depicting how Sophia’s authorship is constructed using her
most popular movies lost in translation and virgin suicides.

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 Lost in translation starred
Bill Murray as a faded movie star and Scarlett Johansson as a neglected young
woman, as they go onto form an unlikely bond in Tokyo. Virgin suicides is about
group of male friends who become obsessed with five sisters who are sheltered
by their strict parents. Just from these descriptions you may think there seems
not a lot of depth to the story’s and this is correct, these films are more a
visual experience than story driven movies. This has become prominent with
Sophia’s movies being stated to put ’emphasis on style rather than content’ Belinda Smaill(2013)however the content of
the movies does follow a running trend with serious topics such as adolescence
and coming of age in virgin suicides, or isolation is lost in translation. This
is part of Sofia’s authorship. She seems drawn to stories centred
on characters longing for a sense of acceptance and need for emotional
stability during difficult transitions in their lives.

Sophia uses the visuals to highlight these key issues. In
lost in translation the key theme is isolation and she utilise balance to
portray this. When bob and charlotte both arrive in Tokyo they feel isolated,
lost in this city. Visually this can be seen in shots where bob and charlotte
take up one side of the frame without any counterbalance. The two that stood
out to me is when bob arrives in the taxi with himself shrouded in darkness on
the left whilst the bright lights of Tokyo is on the right. Another is when
charlotte is confined in her hotel room with her dark silhouette on the right
looking out into the day time of Tokyo on the left. Tokyo becomes a visual
representation of their emotional states as Tokyo
is constantly alive and booming with colour, while the main characters are more
concealed in the shadows symbolizing their loneliness and detachment from the
outside world.  As the story
progresses and they start to balance each other out which is also represented
in a more balanced composition such as one of the final scenes where bob is
playing golf with a consistent lighting, showing charlotte lasting effect on

There are numerous other ways Coppola shows this. Firstly,
she makes use of wide shots, for example when Bob is sitting alone in his hotel
room. This emphasises his loneliness by drawing attention to the empty space
around him. The frame remains static, symbolising how his life is at a
standstill. By pausing at this moment Coppola provokes the viewer to consider
his sad situation and evokes pity. Out of focus shots is another stylistic
choice showing a disconnect from the characters towards the outside world. Lastly,
Coppola employs hand held camera work for when Bob and Charlotte are outside
the hotel together. These shots have a more varied colour palette and signal a
change in mood within the characters as they start to help each other and
impact positively upon one another’s lives. This contrasts greatly with the
scenes from within the hotel room, where there is static shots and monotone
colour showing the characters internal feelings of imprisonment and being stuck
in their lives.

A key theme in the virgin suicides is adolescence and
idealism. Again, Coppolla utilises lighting to portray the girl’s youthful optimism.
When we first meet the five sisters it’s through sun-soaked lenses, with
sunshine reflecting onto the camera. The girls, all with beach blonde hair,
look the epitome of youth supported with a comic style face of their names on
screen. The summer time in which the scene is set, has connotations with vitality
and youthfulness. There is a abrupt scene change to a darkened scene of one of
the sisters after a suicide attempt. The scene cut evokes shock within the
reader and within the reader and heightens the gravity of what has happened.
The darkness of the shot with her in the bath, in stark contrast with the warmth
and brightness of the prior scenes, set an ominous mood and conveys the vulnerability
of the girl. The camera angle is Birdseye which has the effect of making the
bathtub appear like a coffin foreshadowing future events and emphasises her
powerless in the face of her dire situation.

Additionally, Coppola uses music, or lack of, throughout the
film to dictate and reflect the characters mood. The significance of silence
can be seen in moments where the characters reflect and enjoy each other’s
presence. Ceremoniously, in the final scene of lost in translation, Bob and charlotte’s
final exchange is silent, giving the audience time to reflect on the journey the
characters have been on throughout their relationship and perhaps on how far
they have come since the beginning scenes. Words are no longer required to
convey what they have both mutually gained from their friendship, as despite the
magnitude of people surrounding them, the shot focuses intently on their
embrace. This is also seen in the virgin suicides, as previously mentioned,
throughout the beginning scenes with sun accompanied by music ‘virgin suicides by
air’. The music abruptly stops reflecting the mood in the scene, with echoing
silence as the audience witness one of the sisters floating in the bathtub,
having attempted suicide. The use of music may lead the audience to question
why a young middle-class girl of her stature may try to take her own life,
foreshadowing the plot of the movie.

Sophia clearly has a focus on women in a
situation. Charlotte going through loneliness, the sisters going through love.
Both movies start with the perfect imagine of femininity in the virgin suicide
we see lux with her beach blonde hair and red lips and in lost in translation
we are shown charlotte behind in lingerie however these original images soon
breakdown as the movies progress. A reason for this could be because she is a
pioneer film maker therefore received a lot of prejudice in the industry therefore
focuses on women. She was also a child actor in god father 3 in which she was
critically bashed therefore decided to make a coming of age movie. Also as her
dad is successful there is less pressure on her movies succeeding therefore
decides to take a stand and speak out for women. Lonliness could be attributed  to her dad always away making movies. Belinda
smaill said the movies ‘are extensions of themselves’ supporting this idea.

The last recurring thing in her authorial
signature is the movies names. Both lost in translation and virgin suicides
have ulterior meanings. Lost in translation could mean literally they are lost in
translation due to the language barrier of being in japan however it takes on a
deeper meaning when we watch the movie. We can see both Bob and Charlotte
struggle to communicate with others regardless of language this is perpetuated
as they often communicate through notes even though they can both speak English.
In virgin suicide the virgin is meant to signify youth not virginity. This is
evident how even though lux partook in sexual activity she was still deemed to
have die with her innocence.

Coppolas features of authorship are by herself
and critics. In Spring 2013 profile of her in the DGA Quarterly she stated, “I
don’t make the kind of movies that lend themselves to wide releases.” This is
evident in her unique authorship. Belinda Smaill in her article feminist media
studies(2013) p.150 said Coppola centres on the ”look of the film rather than
the story and David Roony in his article in variety (2008) said lost in
translation’s ”very much a mood piece”. I believe this is the fundamentals of
her authorship. Visually stunning movies with character.



To conclude I believe Sophias authorship is constructered
by numerous tools such as wide shots, flared lens. To create visually stunning
emotional movies about topics Belinda is clearly passionate about and in her profile
in DGA Quarterly ”don’t lend themselves to wide release”.


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