Saturday, November 29, 2008
Tucked away at the Chauvel is Youth Without Youth, the first film by Frances Ford Coppola for over a decade. It brings him full circle. His first official film the no-budget horror flick Dementia 13 was also barely in the public gaze, or at least the critical gaze. Yet I found it quite remarkable, the only film all year with enough plot and mystery and intrigue and ideas to make me want to see it again as soon as possible. The great man is so far out of the loop these days that he’s getting his money from smallish French and Italian producers and distributors, shooting in cheap foreign locations and minimising costs by film on HD. It might have been sad indeed, as such circumstances have been for many as they attempted to keep going in the face of general indifference. But Coppola’s rigorous methods and intelligence are on full show. Coppola has adapted a story, or is it a novel, by a Rumanian writer Mircea Eliade. The book was given to him by an old friend, a linguistics professor at the University of Chicago. I think the story posits the idea of a man who at the moment of his death is hurled back in time to relive the events of his life. This gives him an opportunity to be somewhat reflexive, and reflective, about things and he conducts his life again through a conversation with an all-knowing double. Coppola films it with a classical camera style. There are according to the director, only two occasions when the camera moves. The energy is generated in the editing and staging and not by an application of the current fad for unruly hand-held camerawork. Youth Without Youth wasn’t something I expected and it turned out to be the most involving experience I’ve sat through in a long time.