June 16, 2009
Francis Ford Coppola is still upset
Francis Ford Coppola is, arguably, back. His new movie, Tetro, has gotten good reviews, and in recent interviews he's talked about what a relief it is to make a movie where he created the story, wrote the screenplay, and directed, something he hasn't done since 1974's The Conversation.
But he's had some rough times too (remember Dracula?) and says he's been in a creative slump for 25 years (that would be since around Rumble Fish.) He seems to have some specific, residual bad feelings about his career: I remember seeing a list of his favorites of his own movies a couple of years ago when Youth Without Youth was coming out, and he purposefully left off all the Godfather movies.
Today, he's still hating on The Godfather, a movie he made when he was younger than I am now. In a letter to viewers that was sent to the Landmark Film Club members this week, he says "Tetro is the kind of film I might have been making 35 years ago, had my career not taken an abrupt and sudden turn as it did with The Godfather." Then he goes on to say that his success with The Godfather made the studios want him to do more gangster movies, or "if not a gangster film, then take your choice between a thriller, a caper film, a romantic comedy (nothing wrong with that) or sci-fi epic (nor that)."
In another interview in The Examiner, he says he didn't even want to make The Godfather II, and that his success with those movies didn't mean a thing when it came time to make Apocalypse Now, which no one would fund.
You know, there aren't a lot of people out there who, after accomplishing something like The Godfather II, would dismiss it as something they didn't even want to do it in the first place.
I guess when you've had a wildly erratic career like his, you're going to end up talking about your older movies at least as much as you talk about your current one. How many more millions of people have watched and loved The Godfather than will ever see Tetro? A lot. It sounds like Coppola will always be dissatisfied with how his career turned out and which movies he'll always be remembered for. He still hasn't gotten over his early success.
Here's an interesting thing: when he did an interview about Youth Without Youth in 2007, he said that Tetro was going to star Matt Dillon and Javier Bardem, neither of whom are actually in it. Instead he got the aggressively insane Vince Gallo and an unknown Alden Ehrenreich, which he now says is better because non-stars are "100 percent in control of their careers," like he says Marlon Brando also was for The Godfather.
Of course, the reason these actors are so in control of their careers is that most other directors wouldn't touch them with a ten-foot pole, but clearly this strategy has worked well for Coppola before. I haven't seen Tetro yet, but I hope it's good enough for this poor guy to start feeling better about being Francis Ford Coppola.
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