May 14, 2007

Coppola in Miami.

Francis Ford Coppola Francis Ford Coppola was in Miami last night talking about, among other things, Youth Without Youth, which will see its official premiere at the RomeFilmFest. Peter Nellhaus reports on the event presented by the Miami Beach Cinematheque and the Miami Beach Film Society.

Coda: Thirty Years Later has been making the rounds with Francis Ford Coppola in attendance. Unlike some of the other screenings at college campuses, Sunday's night presentation was at the Colony Theatre in Miami Beach, once a movie theater, now restored and filled last night primarily, as Coppola requested, with students.

Coppola making Apocalypse Now Coppola introduced Coda by explaining that it is an informal sequel to Hearts of Darkness, the documentary about his making Apocalypse Now that was shot primarily by his wife, Eleanor. Coda is partially about Coppola filming Youth Without Youth, and both the doc and the feature were financed by Coppola himself in order to guarantee artistic control. The prime difference between Hearts and Coda is that Apocalypse Now was filmed in desperate circumstances, while Coppola's profitable wine business now allows for him to return to filmmaking on his own terms. Coda begins with footage from Hearts, with Coppola and the crew gathering together for the good luck chant at the beginning of what would become an arduous adventure. The ritual is repeated with the crew of Youth Without Youth.

Most of Coda was shot in the fall of 2005 in Romania. Coppola is seen discussing the meaning of consciousness with himself, or more precisely, two versions of himself. That part is made more clear in a scene from Youth Without Youth with two versions of Tim Roth on screen representing two points of view. Roth himself seems to be of two minds regarding working with Coppola. At one point he declares that every day is Friday, meaning that each day he feels that he's put in a week's worth of work. Later he admits how happy he is working on the film.

Youth Without Youth

Youth Without Youth came about when Coppola shelved his dream project, Megalopolis. What I was unaware of is that Coppola had second unit footage shot, some of which is included in Coda. What I saw were gorgeous traveling shots of New York City, footage for what may be one of the most beautiful movies we will never see. During the preparation for Megalopolis, Coppola was directed to the writings of Mircea Eliade. With Youth Without Youth, based on a novella by Eliade, Coppola was able to pursue the themes of time and consciousness on a smaller scale.

Much of the footage shown from Youth Without Youth is bathed in golden browns. Visually, the new film will remind some of the first two Godfather films. There is also an excerpt involving Nazi experiments which harkens back to German Expressionism. It was little surprise that two of Coppola's favorite filmmakers are Pabst and Murnau, while a glimpse in the documentary revealed two Visconti films, La Terra Trema and Rocco and his Brothers mixed in with some books.

Following Coda, Coppola came on stage for a question and answer session moderated by Miami Herald film critic Rene Rodriguez. Coppola discussed how he sees the films he likes to make as answers to questions; for him, "the journey is the work". Much of what Coppola said expressed many of the same thoughts we've heard in Hearts of Darkness and in his Academy Award appearances - the hope that younger filmmakers will create a new film language, and that film will be used to bring people together. Coppola also expressed hope that the studios would use their profits to help support less commercial films, though he is pragmatic enough to know that his choice at this time is either to make self-financed films or to be a director for hire.

While no further details were given, Coppola did mention making a new film, Tetro, from an original script in Buenos Aires. And while it is not absolute, Coda may appear in the future on DVD along with Hearts of Darkness.

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Posted by dwhudson at May 14, 2007 5:31 AM


Great report, Peter, thanks!

Posted by: Michael Guillen at May 14, 2007 9:28 AM