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Coppola, Asturias honours cinema's great 'outsider'

Coppola, Asturias honours cinema's great 'outsider'
By Euronews
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With Francis Ford Coppola talks in Oviedo, Spain, where the now legendary film maker received the Princess of Asturias Arts Award, the


With Francis Ford Coppola talks in Oviedo, Spain, where the now legendary film maker received the Princess of Asturias Arts Award, the Italian-American creator of the Godfather saga and Apocalypse Now told us about his early years and the way he works.

Javier Villagarcía, euronews: “Francis Ford Coppola, how does it feel to be honoured with an award for your career achievements? Do you feel proud of your accomplishments, or a little bit nostalgic?”

Francis Ford Coppola: “Frankly I feel a little shy about it. All my life I wanted to be one of the group. When I was young my father moved many times to where we lived so I never had any friends so I was always an outsider. When you become so celebrated and receive such a wonderful honor as this is, then in a way you are also an outsider in the other end but I’m very proud and honoured and appreciative.”

euronews: “You have said many times that you don’t want to do commercial films, you want to do more independent films. Is the time of the big Coppola productions over?”

Coppola: “Well maybe yes, maybe no. Only time will tell and permit. But what I mean to say is even when I was younger I was interested in more experimental films, films that try to understand what cinema could be. Then when I was doing the so-called big films there was more flexibility. Today the big films are all some kind of Spiderman, Batman, this man, that man, another man…”

euronews: “Superhero movies.”

Coppola: “Yeah, they seem to me just like products. I don’t think they’re made because someone ‘has to make them’. They are made because someone has to make some money. No one invests in a film to make something new but to make sure they want to get their money back. Risk is good, risk is how you move forward. But if no one wants a risk then it doesn’t interest me.”

euronews: “Let me quote you now. This is something that you’ve said in the past: ‘What the studios want now is risk free films… but not taking risks in the arts is like not having sex and then expecting there to be children.’”

Coppola: “Well, that’s true. I don’t know when I said that but there has to be risk. Art is risk. It always was. If you are sure that what you are going to do is going to be wonderful, probably won’t be wonderful.”

euronews: “You’ve said also that the real prize for you is to make films that 30, 40 years afterwards people will still remember. You accomplished that with the Godfather saga and Apocalypse Now in the 70s and 80s. What happened next?”

Coppola: “Well, again, the films that are now considered classics were made 30, 40 years ago. The films I made after that… it hasn’t been 30-40 years yet. So we’ll see what are classics or what are not classics. But I’m interested always in trying to break new ground and that’s my pleasure. I make films for pleasure. I don’t make films to make money. I don’t need money from films.”

euronews: “Could you tell us a little bit about your next adventure?”

Coppola: “Well, when you talk about your adventure then it is difficult to do it. You get a satisfaction. You get an audience hearing, ‘Oh I want to do this, I want to do that.’ To talk about it is like letting the steam out of the steam engine. So, I can’t say too much, but what I’m working on now is maybe more ambitious and bigger as a film than anything I ever did. You know, the one film I did that was a so-called commercial type film that was experimental was Apocalypse Now because that was a very crazy enterprise at that time. The studios wanted nothing to do with the Vietnam war. An I went alone and I borrowed the money so I was basically the one who financed it. I was afraid, of course, but I was taking a big chance with Apocalypse Now. But that’s why it’s interesting. The script wasn’t gone over beforehand by the people putting up the money saying, ‘you have to do this, you have to do that, can’t you make it more like The Guns of Navarone?’ Everyone understands this. Would you put money in a film that probably the director says, ‘I’m not sure what I’m doing’? Who would?”

euronews: “Talking about Apocalypse Now. Do you think this movie helps today to understand the ongoing conflicts?”

Coppola: “What the theme of Apocalypse Now deals with really is a question of morality, you know, because so many people say, ‘we are the good ones, we have morality and the terrorists they have no morality, they are the bad ones.’ That’s already a lie. What Apocalypse Now hates more than anything else is a lie. If you are going to do something then you have to be honest about what you are doing. The terrorist very often is only a terrorist because he doesn’t have an army. It’s easy for the country that has an army to say, ‘we are fighting terrorists,’ but the terrorists are fighting with wherever they can pick up in their hands — and courage. So, if we want to understand the world today and solve these terrible issues which normal people pay the price for, I mean millions of refugees who did nothing, then you have to stop lying.”

euronews: “About your career: How important was Marlon Brando for you?”

Coppola: “Well he was a great man, aside from an actor. He was a genius, just in what he thought about. And I don’t use the term ‘genius’ very often. In my life I knew two or three people that I would say were geniuses. Marlon was because he thought in a totally unique way. And he was a man filled with love.”

euronews: “Was it difficult to direct him?”


Coppola: “No, because I would just bring props that would interest him. I would put an animal in his hands or put some Italian cheese or cigars and he would do naturally what he would do. To direct him you just said, ‘can you do more angry, could you be less angry’. You never talked to him, you know, like with the vernacular of the acting. He didn’t like that.”

euronews: “Your family is full of film directors. Your daughter, Sophia, your son, Roman. Do they come to you often saying, ‘Daddy, can you help me with this, or what do you thing about that?’”

Coppola: “They still do but of course as they get older less. But the younger ones like my granddaughter, Gian-Carla, who’s only 28, she asks me all the time. The others did too when they were in their twenties. Now they are in the forties and fifties and they are more shy or more sure of what they want to do but even once in a while they ask. And of course my wife has just made the first film of her career when she’s 79, and she asks a lot of questions, so as they become more confident they don’t need me so much.”

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