All roads lead to Megalopolis: Coppola shares his inspirations and his first photo

All roads lead to Megalopolis: Coppola shares his inspirations and his first photo

In a beautiful note of intentions, the filmmaker details how he constructed this unique film over forty years, bringing together multiple references, from the most classic to the most modern.

Until recently, everything we knew about Megalopolis of Francis Ford Coppolais that it was a “epic work speaking of political ambitions, genius and dangerous love”. Then there was the announcement of the presentation of the film in Cannes, in competition, and now, the publication of a new image of the film which will be released in France distributed by Le Pacte.

We see Adam Driver (Caesar in the film) looking through a telescope, while behind him, Nathalie Emmanuel (Julia Cicero) stands in front of an expanse of skyscrapers.

An image given exclusively to Vanity Fair, and accompanied by a handwritten note from the director who, still in mourning (his wife having died at the beginning of the month), did not wish to speak publicly. What one might take for a simple commentary actually constitutes the bible of Megalopolisin which Francis Ford Coppola takes inventory of the inspirations and references that infuse his latest film.

Upon discovering the image, some saw it as a summons from SF “sauce Wachowski, Cloud Atlas And Jupiter Ascending on your mind. However, the roots of this project, which Coppola has been mulling over for almost half his life, run deeper than that.

Megalopolis tells the story of an architect, Caesar, and his utopian vision of New York, which he wants to remodel as he sees fit. Facing him, Frank Cicero, conservative mayor of the city, who wants it to remain as it is.

“The seeds of Megalopolis were planted when, as a child, I saw Future Worlds of HG Wellswrites the director in his press release. This 1930s classic from Korda deals with the construction of the world of tomorrow and has always accompanied me, first as 'young science lover' that I was, then as a filmmaker.”

Dystopia released in 1936, The Lost Worlds tells the story of the renewal of humanity decimated by a global conflict, then by an epidemic of plague, and which, in 2036, ended up rebuilding itself, more beautiful and flourishing than ever. A literary and cinematographic reference to which is added a historical one: the Conjuring of Catiline. In 63 BC. BC, Lucius Sergius Catiline, a patrician, tried to take power in Rome. According to him, the Roman Republic, undermined by political unrest, must be refounded; Rome, burned then rebuilt.

Cannes 2024: Why Francis Ford Coppola’s return to competition is an event

“Modern America is the historical counterpart of ancient Rome,” explains the filmmaker, “and the Conjuring of Catiline, as told by the historian Sallust, could have taken place in modern America.”

A historical episode from which Francis Ford Coppola was freely inspired, transposing his characters into the modern world.

“I started with the essence of a plot: Perhaps an evil patrician (Catiline) plotted to overthrow the republic, but he was thwarted by Cicero, the consul. I renamed Catiline as Caesar (…). I wondered if the traditional representation of Catiline as the 'wrong' and of Cicero as the 'GOOD' was necessarily true.”

First official image of Megalopolis, the new film by Francis Ford Coppola

A large decor was needed for this colossal fresco. Coppola's attention was focused on the city of New York, which he makes, in his film, the cultural, architectural, historical and symbolic center of the world:

“The story would be set in a somewhat stylized New York, presented as the center of world power, and Cicero would be the mayor during a time of great financial upheaval, such as the financial crisis under former Mayor Dinkins (who led the city ​​from 1990 to 1993). Caesar, in turn, will be a master builder, a great architect, a designer and a scientist combining elements of Robert Moses, as described in the brilliant biography The Power Brokerwith architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, Raymond Loewy, Norman Bel Geddes, or Walter Gropius”.

“Step by step, with these beginnings, I searched for the most interesting cases of New York City in my albums: the Claus von Bülow murder case, the Mary Cunningham-William Agee Bendix scandal, the emergence of Maria Bartiromo (a beautiful financial journalist nicknamed 'The Money Honey', coming from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange), the escapades of Studio 54, and the financial crisis of the city itself (saved by Felix Rohatyn), in order that everything in my story was true and took place either in modern-day New York or in ancient Rome. I added to this everything I had read or learned on the subject.

A total work, dense, therefore, and which, even before viewing, impresses with its network of references. However, at the end of his note, the director adds a list of forty-three names, from Voltaire to Pirandello, including Spinoza, Fellini, Murnau, Dickens and Mizoguchi.

Which does not prevent him from making this film his masterpiece. Francis Ford Coppola explains with humility that for The Godfather Or Draculahe made a point of mentioning the artists behind the works that inspired him (“Bram's Stoker's Dracula” can we read on the poster of his 1992 film, for example). The filmmaker says that even before writing the script, he knew that this story would totally belong to him:

“Early on, I remember taking 130 blank pages and putting a title page announcing in bold 'Megalopolis by Francis Ford Coppola' and, below, 'All Roads Lead to Rome' ('All roads lead to Rome'). I pretended the page wasn't totally blank, I weighed it in my hands so I could imagine what it would look like one day, and believe that one day it could exist. Later, once I had a draft, I must have rewritten it 300 times, hoping that each rewrite would improve it, even by half a percent.”

Because indeed, the road to Rome was not without bumps. A total filmmaker, Coppola did not accept compromise, and had to sell a significant part of his Californian vineyards to advance the 120 million dollars necessary for the production of Megalopoliswhich he has been thinking about for four decades.

“I wasn't really working on this script for forty years, as I often see it written, but rather I was collecting notes and clippings for a scrapbook of things I found interesting for a future script, or examples political caricatures or different historical subjectshe says. (…) Furthermore, as I have made many films on very different subjects and styles, I hoped to be able to make a project later in life, when I had better understood what my personal style was “.

It was in 2001 that the director truly launched Megalopolisnine years after the release of The Idealistworn by Matt Damon. He opened a production office, began casting, script readings, chose a director of photography, Ron Frickedecides to shoot part of the shots with a Sony digital camera… When a global catastrophe disrupts production:

“The storyline always included the element of an aging Soviet satellite falling out of orbit and crashing into Earthhe explains. So we needed destruction plans and areas cleared, but of course no one could have anticipated the events of September 11, 2001 and the World Trade Center tragedy. As we were shooting with our second unit at the time, we covered some of this heartbreaking footage.”

Adam Driver is full of praise for Francis Ford Coppola: “I loved the Megalopolis process”

Megalopolis therefore represents a modern America, although fictionalized, with its fractures, its wounds, its mourning. It is an honest, humble and sincere film that Francis Ford Coppola wishes to show. As he concludes:

“My first goal is always to make a film with all my heart, and so I began to realize that it would be a film about love and loyalty in all aspects of human life. Megalopolis echoes these feelings (love is expressed in almost crystalline complexity, our planet in danger and our human family almost in an act of suicide) until it becomes a very optimistic film that has faith in the human being to possess the genius to cure any problem that comes our way.”

Although we know that the film has found a French distributor (Le Pacte) and will therefore be released in theaters here, we do not yet know its release date. Before that, Megalopolis will be presented in competition at the Cannes Film Festival in May. The Cannes selection will be discovered, deciphered, in the next issue of Firstavailable on newsstands in mid-May.

That's it, Megalopolis has a distributor: Francis Ford Coppola's film will be released in cinemas in France

Similar Posts