The Fall of Francis Coppola

By Sharrett, Christopher | USA TODAY, March 1993 | Go to article overview

The Fall of Francis Coppola


Sharrett, Christopher, USA TODAY


THE RELEASE of Francis Ford Coppola's latest film, "Bram Stoker's Dracula," for all its box office success, is the last nail in the coffin (the bad pun is the only appropriate metaphor) for a director whose sagging career has been the subject of much speculation and concern for more than a decade. There has been the sense among critics for some time that there is a shallowness to Coppola, one of the stellar "movie brat" directors who gained prominence (with Martin Scorsese, Brian DePalma, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and others) during the 1970s. While his "Godfather" films quickly suggested that he was among the more serious of the lot, the notion that there might be less to him than meets the eye has dogged his career--and been reinforced with a steady stream of box office and critical failures. The Coppola story is important as a parable about the "New Hollywood"--a hyper-commercial industry that privileges spectacle over substance and confuses artiness with a genuine sensibility.

The decline of Coppola has been inexorable--grindingly slow, but always apparent. The "Godfather" films were championed mightily, and rightfully so, particularly by critic Pauline Kael, who termed them national treasures. "The Godfather II" in particular is a significant contribution to the world cinema, a poignant allegory about the immigrant experience and the betrayal of the American Dream.

"Apocalypse Now" began the Coppola controversy. Although the film found its audience amid very mixed reviews and has taken its place among the key movies about the Vietnam War (and even enjoys a certain kind of cult status), it was responsible for sowing doubts about Coppola as man and artist. The extended production through the mid to late 1970s seemed to be as much self-promotion and myth-building about the director as the legitimate consequence of a string of bad luck (typhoons that destroyed sets, actors who were fired or otherwise left the production, etc.).

"Hearts of Darkness," the documentary by Eleanor Coppola about the making of the picture, works to confirm many suspicions. Subtitled "A Filmmaker's Apocalypse," it is supposed to be a tribute to a rather crazed, larger-than-life artistic personality, with Coppola compared to kindred spirits like Orson Welles and Joseph Conrad. Instead of portraying a tortured genius ruthlessly pursuing his vision a la Poe or Van Gogh, his wife's film reveals Coppola as an adolescent, fumbling jerk.

It is after "Apocalypse Now" that Coppola began to drift, possibly because of all the critical attention in the wake of a project that seemed not worth the effort expended on it. (It almost bankrupted him, suggesting to corporate Hollywood the director's arrogance, caprice, and poor administrative abilities.)

Certainly his lousy management skills had little to do with the debacles of "One from the Heart," "The Cotton Club," and "Tucker: A Man and His Dream. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Fall of Francis Coppola
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.