The View From Here

So do I really want to know what happens at the end of Lost In Translation..?

Michael Bonner

After the sad news of Charlton Heston's death yesterday morning, I had hoped that the rest of my Sunday would pan out in a more genteel manner -- The Archers omnibus, a mooch round Borders, maybe a pint, that kind of thing. That was until an email from our web queen, Farah, pinged into my inbox.

The email contained a link to a Youtube page. Clicking on the link, up came these words:

Lost In Translation (Bill Murray's WHISPER revealed)

I must admit to having found myself, in the odd quiet moment, wondering exactly what it is that Bill Murray does indeed whisper into Scarlett Johansson's ear in the final moments of Lost In Translation, just before the Jesus & Mary Chain's "Just Like Honey" kicks in. I wouldn't say I've exactly been kept awake at night thinking about this, but I have, at least once, and admittedly slightly drunkenly, skipped through the DVD, put the sound up full, and tried to discern, through the hubub of Tokyo street noises, what The Whisper is. I think I've even watched the film with the Subtitles option on, and been slightly disappointed when all that happens is that the words "He whispers something into her ear" flash up on screen.

I've occasionally mulled and mused and generally pontificated over The Whisper, but that's been fine. It's like, say the end of Cache, or No Country For Old Men, when Things are Left Open. It's sort of satisfying, it suggests you're an adult and you can deal with these loose ends and bewitching digressions -- hey, that's Life, right? I don't need everything spelt out for in black and white -- after all, I can tie my own shoe laces.

And now, apparently, someone claims to have digitally buggered around with the soundtrack and revealed The Whisper.

With slightly shaky fingers, I clicked on the link and watched as Tokyo flickered to life... Then hit the pause. No -- wait -- what the Dickens was I thinking? Did I really want to know what Bill says to ScarJo? Would my enjoyment of the film be better off by maintaining this current state of ignorance? And can you imagine if, prompted by a glass or two of sherry, I, delirious with the joy of knowledge, took it upon myself to announce to my friends, family or work colleagues -- "Gather round, for this, this is what Bill whispers in Scarlett's ear!" I could, conceivably, look like a fool.

So, anyway, I walked away from the computer. I went off and did something else. I shuffled some shoes around in the hallway. I looked out of the window at the remnants of the snow melting off the daffodils in my garden. I watched a squirrel snuffling around in a flower bed. I whistled a tune. But the computer was still there, nagging away at me, I could almost hear a spectral voice whispering "Click play... Click play..." So I emailed the Youtube link to my friend Bumble, Sofia Coppola's former publicist, who's always maintained The Whisper wasn't scripted and she has no idea what The Whisper was. She emailed me back -- "Oh that's so brilliantly enigmatic!" which, in itself, seems to open another can of worms.

You see, what if it's a lie? What if I click on the Play button, learn what The Whisper is, and then find out later it's a work of fiction, concocted by some smart arsed yoot in Boyse, Idaho who's merrily going around shattering the dreams of men like myself, who while not exactly obsessed about The Whisper, have, as I've said, drunkenly fumbled around with a DVD and a volume control once or twice (twice, alright? I did it twice).

So, that's something else to worry about. If I learn what I believe is The Whisper, then I've crossed a line, I'm privy to a secret the film makers never intended to be out there in the public doman; if I then learn The Whisper is A Lie, I'm back at square one, but still soiled by the knowledge that I've transgressed.

Oh, is it worth it?

Anyway, now, today, at around 11.25 am, I finally gave in and watched it. Bumble was right -- if it's true, it is brilliantly enigmatic. And it didn't ruin the film for me. Though I am prepared for someone to email me confirming it's a fake. In the meantime, the link is here -- if you want to know (possibly) the truth about The Whisper and can, of course, live with your conscience.


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