Francis Ford Coppola Talks ‘Twixt’ & Competing with his Former Self
Francis Ford Coppola on the set of American Zoetrope's 'Twixt'.
Modern cinema owes a gigantic debt to Francis Ford Coppola, so if you like movies, do yourself a favor and go watch everything he's ever done, including his latest offering, "Twixt."
In recent years, Coppola has gotten away from big studio films. The five-time Oscar winner has been concentrating on what he refers to as "student films." In order to mold the work exclusively in his vision, Coppola wrote, directed, and produced "Youth Without Youth" (2007), "Tetro" (2009), and "Twixt" (2011) – a genre-defying festival favorite starring Val Kilmer, Bruce Dern, and Elle Fanning, which gets its Blu-ray release this week.
In the early 70s, Coppola helped transform the way movies were made, and what they could be. In that decade alone, Coppola wrote and directed three films that are cemented near the top of AFI's 100 Greatest American Movies of All Time list: "The Godfather" Parts I and II, and "Apocalypse Now."
Of course, that kind of success is hard to repeat, but there's a reason for that, which Coppola shared with us while discussing "Twixt" over the phone recently. In the fascinating interview below, Coppola tells us he doesn't really even try to compete with his former self, because, among other reasons, "To be alive is to be unpredictable."
As "Twixt" clearly shows, Coppola remains ever unpredictable, and ever the consummate artist.
Kilmer's character, Hall Baltimore, where did he come from?
Francis Ford Coppola: Oh, he comes from me. I mean, he is a guy who had been very successful and now he is kind of down on his luck, and he is doing a series of commercial books that make money, although they’re making less and less money each time. He's under pressure from his wife, whom he used to love, but maybe they’re more antagonistic now. Even the title, "Twixt," really means betwixt or between. He’s between success and failure, between youth and old age, between happiness and sadness, between dreams, – as you see in nightmares – between the horrible and the sublime.
So, you say Hall Baltimore comes from you, so this is more of a personal story?
FFC: Everything I do is personal. I have never made a movie that didn’t have very strong personal resonance. I mean that’s part of the requirement for me to be an artist is that you're trying to share your personal existence with others and trying to illuminate modern life, trying to understand life.
Val Kilmer, Francis Ford Coppola and Bruce Dern on the set of American Zoetrope's 'Twixt'.
In "Twixt," you portray Hall Baltimore’s writing ritual or lack thereof, if you will, what is your writing ritual?