Inquirer, October 27, 2007
ONLY IN HOLLYWOOD
Francis Ford Coppola 'forever grateful' to Filipinos
By Ruben V. Nepales
LOS ANGELES, California - "The Filipino people were generous and worked so hard with us. We will forever be affectionate toward them!"
Those were the sentiments expressed by director Francis Ford Coppola when we recently asked him about making "Apocalypse Now" in the Philippines.
"Salamat po!," he said to us twice.
It has been 32 years since one of cinema's greatest directors began filming his Vietnam War masterpiece in Laguna and other parts of the country. Hailed as a genius for his innovations in the landmark film-including the use of Wagner's "The Ride of the Valkyries" in a scene involving attacking helicopters-Coppola won the Cannes' coveted Palme d'Or in 1979. An anniversary edition, "Apocalypse Now Redux," includes 49 minutes of additional footage.
But, the making of "Apocalypse" also took its personal and financial toll on the director. Francis' wife, Eleanor, chronicled his debacles, including incidents that threatened their marriage, in the documentary, "Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse."
The director mortgaged his winery estate to finance the movie. While the film made some money, it took a while before Coppola regained his financial bearings.
In our interview, he volunteered how his daughter, Sofia, a child back then but now also a respected filmmaker, tried to stop folks from delivering foreclosure papers at the porch of their Napa Valley home in California, which she likened to Tara, Scarlet O'Hara's beloved estate in "Gone With the Wind."
Today, the California winery is so successful that it has allowed the filmmaker to keep the house and make the kind of movies he wants to do.
After many years, the first film from the director is "Youth Without Youth," which premiered at the Rome Film Festival recently, about a linguistics professor (Tim Roth) who is hit and charred by lightning.
He doesn't just survive the accident-it miraculously restores his youth! The story's theme of rejuvenation, based on a novella by Mircea Eliade, evokes Francis' own reinvigoration, as well as his renewed desire to direct personal films.
Looking like a professor at the press con, Francis knew how to charm. He was alternately moving, funny and witty. Also evident was his passion for the topics at hand-like family, wine and films (including his dream project, "Megalopolis).