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Francis Ford Coppola (1939 - )

Lifespan: 1939 -

Related: New Hollywood - American cinema - director

Titles: The Conversation (1974)

Marlon Brando's final words in Apocalypse Now: "The horror. The horror."

Biography

Francis Ford Coppola (born April 7, 1939 in Detroit, Michigan) is an American film director, screenwriter, vintner, magazine publisher, and hotelier.

Career: 1960 to 1978
Coppola studied film at UCLA and while there, he made numerous short films, including some pornography. In the late 1960s, he started his professional career making low-budget films with Roger Corman and writing screenplays. His first notable motion picture was made for Corman, the low-budget Dementia 13 (which is available on video). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Ford_Coppola [Apr 2005]

The Terror (1963) - Roger Corman, Francis F. Coppola

  • The Terror (1963) - Roger Corman, Francis F. Coppola [Amazon.com]
    Back when Jack Nicholson was a Hollywood unknown appearing in Roger Corman quickies such as Crybaby Killer and Little Shop of Horrors, it wasn't unusual for Corman to make a movie in just a few days. That was the case with this nifty little thriller, which was filmed in just three days using the same sets that Corman had used in his Boris Karloff thriller The Raven, which Corman had finished ahead of schedule. In fact, the sets were being torn down almost as fast as Corman could film them, but that hasn't stopped this moody little gem from acquiring a modicum of cult status over the years. Karloff plays the alleged baron of an isolated castle on the Baltic coast, where a Napoleonic officer (played by Nicholson!) appears after becoming intrigued by the presence of a mysterious and beautiful woman. Karloff's baron has a dark history, of course, and creepy atmosphere makes up for the minimal plot, which makes The Terror a vintage treat for horror fans. --Jeff Shannon for Amazon.com

    The Terror is a 1963 movie directed by Roger Corman. Clips from the film were used years later in the 1968 Karloff movie, Targets.

    The film was reportedly largely improvised by the cast, during a weekend left over from shooting The Raven. The Terror was ultmately shot over four days and used the same sets before they were taken down. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Terror_%281963_film%29 [Dec 2005]

    Apocalypse Now (1979)

    Marlon Brando as Kurtz

    [His last words]
    Kurtz [Marlon Brando]: "The horror. The horror."

    Words spoken by the dying adventurer Kurtz in Heart of Darkness (1902), by Joseph Conrad.

    Apocalypse Now (1979)
    Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American film by Francis Ford Coppola, inspired by Joseph Conrad's classic novella Heart of Darkness. Set in the Vietnam War, a taciturn American soldier is sent to "terminate with extreme prejudice" a rogue Green Beret colonel. The narrative of his journey and its culmination is studded with events which, while bizarre, partake of real Vietnam stories. The soldier's journey becomes increasingly nonlinear and hallucinatory. Coppola's agenda clearly includes larger themes of life and war. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apocalypse_Now [May 2005]

    Heart of Darkness
    Heart of Darkness is a novella (published 1902) by Joseph Conrad. This highly symbolic story is actually a story within a story, or frame tale, narrated by a man named Marlow to colleagues at an evening gathering. It details an incident earlier in Marlow's life, a visit up the Congo River to investigate the work of Kurtz, a Belgian trader in ivory in the Congo Free State.

    The story within a story device actually descends four levels: Conrad writes the story we read, which is the account of an unnamed narrator relating Marlow's yarn of his journey down the Congo river to meet and examine the central character Kurtz. (Emily BrontŰ's Wuthering Heights and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein used a similar device.)

    To write the book, Conrad drew heavily from his own experience in the Congo. Eight years before he wrote the book, he served as a sea captain for a Congo steamer. On a single trip up the river, he had witnessed so many atrocities that he quit on the spot.

    The theme of "darkness" from the title recurs throughout the book. It is used to reflect the unknown (as Africa at the time was often called the "Dark Continent" by Europeans), the concept of the "darkness of barbarism" contrasted with the "light of civilization" (see white man's burden), and the "spiritual darkness" of several characters. This sense of darkness also lends itself to a related theme of obscurity - again, in various senses, reflecting the ambiguities in the work. Moral issues are not clear-cut; that which ought to be (in various senses) on the side of "light" is in fact mired in darkness, and so forth.

    To emphasize the theme of darkness within ourselves, Marlow's narration takes place on a yacht in the Thames tidal estuary. Early in the novella, the narrator recounts how London, the here-and-now where Conrad wrote and where a large part of his audience lived, was itself in Roman times a dark part of the world much like the Congo then was. Like Marlow himself, the astute reader emerges from the tale with an expanded comprehension of the darkness within his own mind.

    Themes developed in the novella's more superficial levels include the na´vetÚ of Europeans - particularly women - regarding the various forms of darkness in the Congo; the Belgian colonialists' abuse of the natives; and man's potential for two-facedness. The symbolic levels of the book expand on all of these in terms of a struggle between good and evil, not so much between people as within every major character's soul.

    Conrad's experiences in the Congo and the historical background to the story, including possible models for Kurtz, are recounted in the historical work, King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild.

    Films

    • 1979 -- Francis Ford Coppola based Apocalypse Now loosely on the novel.
    • 1993 -- Nicholas Roeg filmed Heart of Darkness for television with Tim Roth as Marlow and John Malkovich as Kurtz.
    --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_of_Darkness [May 2005]

    Nebo zovyot (1960) - Mikhail Karzhukov

    Nebo zovyot (1960) - Mikhail Karzhukov [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    Image sourced here.

    Realizing great savings on special effects, Corman bought another Russian film, Niebo Zowiet, which none other then Francis Ford Coppola turned into the film Battle Beyond the Sun. Thus, Coppola earned his way into a feature film, his first, which Corman financed, the torrid Dementia 13. --http://www.levideo.com/articles_corman.php [Dec 2005]

    BATTLE BEYOND THE SUN (aka Nebo zovyot) In the future year of 1997, the world's two opposing powers--the North Hemis and the South Hemis--are involved in a space race to put a man on Mars. Starring Ivan Pereverzev, Aleksandr Shvorin, Konstantin Bartashevich, Larisa Borisenko. Written by Mikhail Karzhukov, Yevgeni Pomeshchikov, Aleksei Sazanov; Directed by Karzhukov, Aleksandr Kozyr, Francis Ford Coppola. 1963. --http://mtceuropavideo.com/aip_cinerama.htm [Dec 2005]

    See also: Russia - 1960 - 1963 - SF film - Francis Coppola - AIP

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