The first three minutes of Coppola’s new film ‘Tetro’ are on line. They look gorgeous. It’s his first original screenplay since ‘The Conversation’ thirty-five years ago; and only his second film as director in over a decade. Most people know him for the ‘Godfather’ saga and ‘Apocalypse Now’ – but there’s a great deal more to his work than gangsters and Vietnam.
To name just four:
‘The Conversation’ – paranoid America develops bad habits because it’s afraid.
‘One from the Heart’ – a 1940s-style musical with a cynical Reaganite heart.
‘Peggy Sue Got Married’ – a film about whether or not regret for the past can be transformed into hope in an instant.
And his return to directing, ‘Youth without Youth’, seemed to be offering something almost unique in English-language cinema: an old guy, looking back, thinking about the nature of life and art, and saying whatever he wants to say, even if he’s not sure that he means it.
‘Tetro’ is about family life in Argentina; that’s all we know so far, other than the fact that Coppola has declined a gala screening at the Cannes Film Festival because he wants the film to be seen as a small drama rather than risk being overwhelmed by the glitz of a red carpet paparazzi session.
Coppola never made a film without serious regard to trying to understand what makes human beings tick; how love binds and can tear; how money can liberate or the love of it can wreck lives; how a person can have power over everything in the world except their own soul. Coppola’s an experimenter, an entrepreneur, a ringmaster, a wine-maker, a cook; he’s been bankrupt once or twice; some of the films don’t work; some of them are masterpieces without which a whole third of cinema history would look very different. ‘Tetro’ opens on the 11th June.