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Coppola: The (Second) Conversation

Coppola: The (Second) Conversation

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(Francis Ford Coppola at Hogg Auditorium in Austin on Monday night.)

On Monday night, Francis Ford Coppola screened his wife’s new hour-long documentary (CODA: Thirty Years Later) which follows the filmmaker during production of his upcoming feature, Youth Without Youth. Cinematically, CODA is a far cry from Eleanor Coppola’s last foray into behind-the-scenes documentary filmmaking, the Apocalypse Now on-set account Hearts of Darkness. CODA feels much more like a DVD extra, but still delivers some interesting perspectives into the world of Francis Ford Coppola’s highly anticipated new film.

Based on the scenes shown in the documentary, we can gather that Youth Without Youth will be a dense and complicated epic. Based on a novella by Mircea Eliade, the film stars Tim Roth and Alexandra Maria Lara as lovers in what appears to be a rumination on time, love, and consciousness. We saw scenes about eternal youth, the Nazis, and Matt Damon. In short, Youth Without Youth seems like heady stuff to come (Sony Pictures Classics is due to release it later this year), all the more emphasized by Coppola’s Q&A following the screening of CODA.

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(UT film professor Tom Schatz, left, with Coppola during Monday night’s Q&A in Austin.)

It was a great evening for Austin, and for UT. From Coppola’s hour-long Q&A with a packed house of primarily UT film students, here were some of the highlights:

– When young filmmakers ask him how to be a success, he often suggests, “get married.” He recalled how nothing drove him to be a successful Hollywood screenwriter (he won an Oscar for writing Patton) more than a wife with a kid on the way.

– Coppola acknowledges that he made many films in the 1990s as a way to finance his dream project, Megalopolis. But even critical failures like Jack (1996) were things he was excited about (in that case, it was the chance to work with Robin Williams).

– After the monumental financial failure that was One From the Heart (1982), he took a lot of jobs-for-hire. They included Peggy Sue Got Married (1986), which he admitted on Monday was a hard film for which to get motivated. Until he realized that he should make it like the famous play, Our Town.

– During this slow creative period in his career, Coppola remembered days driving to the set and hoping the car wouldn’t make it there. Which is why, he said, being the financier and producer of Youth Without Youth meant going to the set “with more anticipation.”

– He said the realization of a planned adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (which he is set to produce and Walter Salles will direct) will entirely depend on who is cast in the lead roles.

– Which of his wines would he recommend to a film student on a budget? “You can’t go wrong with Rosso & Bianco. It’s $11.”

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