New Hollywood Pioneer Francis Ford Coppola Readies a Return to Epic Filmmaking

Francis Ford Coppola

Despite the fact that he’s best known for his sweeping, epic-in-scope work from the ’70s like The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, director Francis Ford Coppola has been spending his recent years making smaller, more experimental, or at least more under the radar projects like Tetro and Twixt. Yet, even with a smaller scale bringing lower expectations, his most recent work hasn’t been able to gain the same level of esteem as the smaller films of his past, like say 1974’s The Conversation. So what does a directing legend have to do to make a dang impact in this town?

Some comments he made while pushing his new five film Blu-ray box set to Inside Movies suggest that he’s planning on returning to his epic roots. When explaining why he’s recently moved from the relative seclusion of his Napa Valley vineyard to new offices at Paramount, Coppola said, “I have a secret investor that has infinite money. I learned what I learned from my three smaller films, and wanted to write a bigger film. I’ve been writing it. It’s so ambitious so I decided to go to L.A. and make a film out of a studio that has all the costume rentals, and where all the actors are.”

Costumes and actors? Hot dang! It sounds like the patriarch of the Coppola clan is back in action! What’s this new big budget feature going to be about? It’s not clear, but the director’s further comments do provide some hints. He went on to say, “My story is set in New York. I have a first draft. I’m really ready for a casting phase. Movies are big in proportion to the period. It starts in the middle of the ’20s, and there are sections in the ’30s and the late ’40s, and it goes until the late ‘60s.”

An infinite budget, a return to the studio machine, and a script that spans decades? It sounds like Coppola is looking to make a splash again. And, traditionally, he’s always been at his most effective when he’s shooting big and getting a little nutty. What do you think? Could a project of this scale be just the thing it takes to get us another Francis Ford Coppola classic? Or is this a once great filmmaker who’s simply past his prime?

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