A look at the director’s underrated career over the past 20 years

According Francis Ford Coppola, the “first people who made movies were magicians”. When he was young, Coppola spent most of his time playing with puppets and developing imaginative stories. Indeed, he contracted poliomyelitis as a child and was often immobile or stuck in bed. So it’s no surprise when he continued his work in the film industry, one of the best mediums for storytelling.

He really started trying his hand at filmmaking at UCLA, where he befriended the future leader of the Doors, Jim Morrison. According to an article by journalist Felipe M. Guerra on Medium, to support himself in school, Coppola worked on erotic films because he discovered that many of his film school colleagues “paid their bills by filming erotic productions”. He produced a film called the voyeurwhich was not successful, and was then asked to combine this film and another erotic project called The great outdoors. The end result didn’t attract much attention but earned Coppola similar opportunities.

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Editing already completed projects is what landed Francis Ford Coppola the job of assistant to famed director Roger Corman. In an article from Achievement AcademyCoppola explains that Corman had some money left over from a film paid for by American International Pictures and wanted to make a second film, so Coppola offered his screenplay, an early version of Dementia 13. The project was a cheaply made horror film, but garnered positive reviews and a cult following. Following the release of his upcoming film and UCLA thesis project, You are a big boy nowCoppola’s talent was recognized in Hollywood, and from there his success only grew.

Coppola as part of “New Hollywood”

In 1970, Francis Ford Coppola graduated from UCLA, directed a classic Hollywood musical with the legendary Fred Astaire called Finian’s Rainbowand released his own project rain people. He had befriended and worked with George Lucas and joined a new movement in the film industry, a new wave of American cinema called “New Hollywood”.

According new wave movie, the work of these young filmmakers was “thematically complex, formally innovative, morally ambiguous, anti-establishment, and rich in mythical resonance.” Coppola and Lucas were considered part of this movement, as well as Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, etc. Patton was Coppola’s first major project, which he co-wrote with fellow screenwriter, Edmund H. North, and which won him the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay at the age of 31.

In the book by Gene D. Philips Godfather: the intimate Francis Ford CoppolaCoppola says his version of the opening scene, in which General Patton gives a fiery speech essentially to the moviegoer with a gigantic American flag in the background, was very “controversial” at the time and got him fired from the scene. scenario of Patton. But actor George C. Scott, poised to take the lead (and win an Oscar for it), fought for Coppola’s portrayal. It’s lucky Scott fought for this version, considering that opening scene has become iconic.

A little after Pattonof, the great success of Coppola The Godfather made its mark. Coppola went on to make several big-name films in the 1970s, including The conversation and Revelation nowand although he never made a movie as successful and adored as his 70s output, his output in the 80s and 90s included several masterpieces such as growling fish and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The 90s became increasingly difficult for Coppola as Hollywood turned to bigger blockbuster pictures and less risky artistic decisions, and Coppola was attached to many projects that would later fall apart.

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Coppola went on hiatus in the late 1990s and only returned to directing in 2007, when he was 68. […] they do a project, they can’t get money, they do another project. It also depends on the director’s need to make money. You will find that they wait about three years, in addition, I was older, and I wanted to regain my strength, my instincts. I didn’t want to be a studio manager […] it might be my age, but they want to make big movies and be number one. I didn’t particularly feel that to the point of making more personal films. I wanted to make the kind of films that I wish I could have made when I was 20.”


Coppola in the late 2000s and 2010s

The first film to emerge from Coppola’s new era was called Youth without youth, a 2007 film about a suicidal Romanian teacher who is granted psychic powers after being struck by lightning. Critic Ruth Hessey called the film “vanity project” and in general, the film bombed. In an interview with Collider, Coppola revealed that he took a break because he “didn’t want to do the same movie over and over again” and wanted to “change the language of the movie now.” His intention with Youth without youthand the rest of his career, was to explore “personal” cinema without the demands of someone else’s studio.

Two years later, Coppola leaves Tetro, a story about the artistic rivalry of two brothers in an Italian immigrant family. The project received more positive reviews than the previous one, but Todd McCarthy of Variety comments that “when Coppola finds his creative nirvana, he often struggles to deliver the full goods”. This is in large part what defined Coppola’s later career as experimental and creative: the work seemed to be purely personal and intended for the director’s own self-expression.


Despite some criticism of his return to acting, Coppola doesn’t seem to mind that not everyone understands his new movies. He says in the aforementioned Collider interview that he, personally, doesn’t want to go to the movies and say, “I’ve seen this movie before,” he wants to see something unfamiliar.

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In 2011, Coppola released a film called Twixt, with Elle Fanning, Val Kilmer and Bruce Dern. The horror film was written, produced and directed by Coppola, and about a new writer who becomes embroiled in a murder case in an unfamiliar town and begins having strange dreams. The project was not well received for the most part. Coppola said the main character, Hall Baltimore, was really a part of himself in a Yahoo Entertainment interview, saying they are both “between success and failure, youth and old age, happiness and sadness, [and] between dreams. Unfortunately, Coppola’s beautiful and strange experiments were a little too strange for the public.

Coppola’s next projects

There are two projects Coppola has been working on since 2015. The first is a semi-autobiographical film that Coppola himself called “experimental” in the Oklahoma City College newspaper. Pioneer. The work bears the name distant vision and is not yet complete, but has had limited viewings on the OCC campus. A second project Coppola is working on is called Megalopolisa story that the director financed himself with 120 million dollars, about the destruction and then the reconstruction of New York, which he planned to do in the 1990s. During a discussion with Mike Fleming Jr. of DeadlineCoppola reveals that like many of his films after 2000, Megalopolis is “not in the mainstream of what is being produced now”.

Although the second half of Coppola’s career was not always what one might call a “success”, at least according to box office figures (which are never correlative to artistic success), the director confirmed that the popularity of the films he is currently directing is not the point. In his interview with Yahoo Entertainment, he says that “by making low-budget home movies, regardless of genre, regardless of whether they’d be a hit or a miss,” he could form a “new trajectory “. Although Francis Ford Coppola has been releasing home movies for the past two decades, audiences still look forward to his projects and this wonderful and strange new trajectory he has embarked on.

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