Francis Coppola: “I am free, the Hollywood bigwigs are not”

Francis Coppola: “I am free, the Hollywood bigwigs are not”
Francis Coppola: “I am free, the Hollywood bigwigs are not”

Francis Coppola, at 85 years old, present at the Cannes Film Festival

Of the many quotes and slogans that resonate in the film Megalopolis of Francis Ford Coppolafull of ideas, sincere and unashamedly optimistic, one that particularly resonates with the director is: “When we leap into the unknown, we show that we are free.”

“That’s me making this movie,” he says. Coppola, speaking on the terrace of a hotel in Cannes. “To all the bigwigs in the studio, I showed them that I am free and they are not. Because they don’t dare to jump into the unknown. And I do. That is the only way to show that you are free.” She pauses and then adds, with a smile. “I do not recommend it”.

Megalopolisthe first film of Coppola In 13 years, it has been rated in many ways since it premiered in Cannes. Crazy. A disaster. A bold and self-financed bet. What it is, regardless of whether all its strange parts work together smoothly, is a colossal personal statement from one of America’s most visionary filmmakersabout having the audacity to be a visionary.

In the lead, Adam Driver: the actor plays a kind of Roman emperor in a futuristic New York (American Zoetrope/ Megalopolis)

It is not a small step, but another giant leap. Coppola85 years old, who feels so convinced of what Megalopolis encapsulates that he has spent some four decades pursuing it. After the credits rolled on the premiere and the crowd stood to applaud, Coppola He took the microphone to extend his message, pleading for “one human family” and “the children.”

“My dream would be that this film could be seen on New Year’s Eve and that people, instead of saying ‘I’m going to lose weight’ either ‘I’m not going to smoke anymore’ either ‘I’m not going to cheat on my wife’will talk about ‘Is the society we live in the only one available?’”says Coppola. “How can we improve it? And if they talk about it, they will. That is my dream”.

In Megalopolis, Adam Driver plays Caesar Catiline, a Roman emperor-like figure with the power to stop time in a futuristic New York. He is an inventor who wants to build a new New York metropolis with a material he has created called Megalon. However, in his sensibility, he is more like an artist: he quotes Hamletas well as Emerson, Marcus Aurelius and Ovid. It is, you can’t help but notice, a little like one’s own Coppola.

Coppola on the red carpet at Cannes, the day of the premiere of “Megalopolis”

At the film’s press conference, Laurence Fishburnewho co-starred Apocalypse Now, recalled that the filmmaker “has always talked about stopping time.” “Even before talking about the movie, he said: ‘I can stop time. I’ll show you’”said the African-American actor. “I used to sit and listen to the conversations you had with Eleanor about it”.

Coppolawho leans on a cane or on his granddaughter Romy Mars wherever you go in Cannesyou are now more aware of your limitations when it comes to time. Eleanor Coppolahis wife, died in April. Megalopolis It is dedicated to her. “Sixty years we were together,” she says, shaking her head. -Can you believe it?

Time is the issue Megalopolisa film that took 40 years to make and which the director says he began to think seriously about, after completing The Rainmaker (The power of justice) in 1997. “During that time, I thought I had worn many styles, Apocalypse.. It was a wild style, The Godfather It was very classic, I wondered what my style could be in the future,” he reflects. “I was curious to know what kind of film I could make when I grew up.. She kept a scrapbook of the things she read. She made a collection of political cartoons. Those tell a whole story in a single image. Ultimately, all of that led me to make a Roman epic set in modern America.”

Coppola dedicated “Megalopolis” to his wife Eleanor, who died in April 2024.

Coppola rewrote Megalopolis many times in the following years. Like Orson Wellesanother American filmmaker who experienced unexpectedly enormous success early in his career and who became increasingly experimental in the rest of his life, Coppola He became fascinated with the new possibilities for films. He published some of his findings in the 2017 book Live Cinema and its Techniques. Halfway through the screening of Megalopolis in Cannes, a man stood on stage and, at the microphone, addressed a question to Caesar on screen.

Adam Driver He was particularly involved in the project and is considered an important collaborator. driverwho sat together with Coppola During the interview, he recalled that on the first day of filming, the director told the cast: “We are not being brave enough.” “That he made a film like that at this moment in his life seemed like something beautiful to me,” says the actor. “He has conviction and is very brave. Why is he doing that at this point in his career and other people aren’t following that example?”

Megalopolis He has had many detractors. After what Coppola screened it privately in Los Angeles, it was said to have no commercial prospects. Even the film’s defenders concede that Megalopolis is juggling a lot, not always skillfully, to marry the Roman past with the sci-fi future, libertine reverie and a kind of brutal honesty.

Francis Coppola and Adam Driver, together on the red carpet at Cannes, on Friday, May 17, 2024

But Coppola did not hesitate, once again, to invest his own money in Megalopolis, and allocated about $120 million from its wine business to produce it. It’s not the first time he’s done something like this. He invested millions in Apocalypse Nowa film that also premiered in Cannes amid skepticism and rumors of production problems.

When Coppola and driver They met for the first time to talk about the film several years ago, “we talked a lot about babies,” says the actor. “They are constantly working doing complex things, even though it seems like they are doing nothing.” “Every baby that is being killed today in Sudan or Palestine, and many of them are being killed, is a Archimedes potential, a Einstein potential, a Mozart potential,” he says. Coppola.

So returns to the topic of time. We are not fully understanding our potential to change the world, she says. Although many today are plagued by apocalyptic and ecological anxieties, Coppola He sees wonders everywhere. Electricity isn’t that old, she says. The internet was created in his life. The merger, he reflects, has enormous possibilities. We are geniuses, she says.

FILE – Coppola and his wife, Ellie at the premiere of “Apocalypse Now” in Cannes, May 19, 1979

“You never turn on cnn You don’t even open the newspaper saying: ‘Human beings are incredible geniuses’. But it is true. How can you deny it? Think about what we can do. A hundred years ago they said that man would never fly. Now we are zooming. So I wonder: Why doesn’t anyone dare to say how great we are? “There is no problem we face that we are not resourceful enough to solve.”

It might be tempting to rate Megalopolis like the testament of a great director and to see it, imbued with both childlike fascination and the wisdom of an old man, like his wild cinematic farewell. But, like his sister said Talia Shire to journalists, Coppola always look forward. She is already writing another script. It is possible that Megalopolis is still seeking distribution in North America, but, he says Coppola“I’m done with this.”

“I’m creating a new project,” he says, smiling. “It’s going to be unusual, but it’s not going to be on this scale. I’ll probably do it in England. It’s going to involve music and dancing. I’m a kid who grew up on Broadway. “My parents were part of the New York theater.”

“It’s going to be fun,” he adds. “I always tell myself, this is going to be fun.”

Fountain: AP.

[Foto: Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP; Scott A Garfitt/Invision/AP; REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne; archivo AP]

 
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