Monday, January 21, 2008

Coppola's Coda

I got Hearts of Darkness for Christmas, and the DVD also contains a new documentary, Coda: Thirty Years Later, which details production on Coppola's first film in ten years, Youth Without Youth.

It was interesting to watch his process -- both his filmmaking process and his thought process in examining the topics he wants to explore in his films. There's an interesting scene wherein he imagines trying to explain the concept of "consciousness" to an alien life form -- an example of his attempt to get to the root of some of the deeper issues that intrigue him. How, he supposes, would you explain this concept to someone who simply had no words for it?

Coppola is an interesting figure. He's perhaps one of the most influential filmmakers of the 70s and has rightfully earned a place among the pantheon of "great directors." Yet the "lean years" of the 80s and 90s have humbled him, and I sense that there's almost an insecurity there now, mingled with his artistic arrogance.

I don't mean to sound negative in calling him arrogant. I've always thought Coppola's grandiosity about his artistic intentions was endearing, for some reason. But it's interesting to see him seem almost tentative, while obviously still in full control of the pursuit of his vision for his work.

I have heard both good and bad about Youth Without Youth, and I'll see it when I can (I doubt it will make it to Waco theatres, unfortunately). But I have to say, as someone who idolized Coppola and his films for a large part of my influential years, it was nice to see the beautiful images he was capturing for his new work.

Also of interest was the brief discussion of a long-gestating and ultimately abandoned large budget project, Megalopolis. If you've read about Coppola recently, none of the details rehashed here will be new, but the inclusion of second-unit footage that had already been shot for Megalopolis was a special treat. While it ultimately looks mostly like beauty shots of New York, it does make you wonder what that film might have been, had he ever been able to pull together the resources to make it.

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