If you watch any of the 1970s classics created by Francis Ford Coppola, they all have an artistic freshness and contemporary feel to them even today, more than four decades later. Right from the engrossing tale of power and family in ‘The Godfather’ to the ever relevant political thriller ‘The Conversation,’ Francis Ford Coppola’s best creations can be considered as definitive genre exercises in themselves, which blend escalating tensions with realism and a bit of potent moral consideration. He has always been a pioneer in whatever he has done. Back in 1982, he dabbled with live cinema project. Although it didn’t really take off at that time, he’s expected to take a shot at it again. Having won the Academy award for the Best Director and Best Picture twice, Francis Ford Coppola is one of the eight filmmakers who have won the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’or two times. Let’s now take you through the top three Francis Ford Coppola films are a must watch for any movie buff.
The Godfather – 1972
Having several classic scenes in them, The Godfather and its sequel can be considered Copolla’s most substantial work till date. The film revolves around the Corelone family of New York, which is the leading crime dynasty of its time. The movie starred Marlon Brando as Vito, the ruthless patriarch and Al Pacino as Michael, his black sheep son. Coppola tracks Michael’s evolution over a decade, right from being a sceptical outsider to emerging as the new leader of the pack. The film established Copolla as the Hollywood Godfather in a way. Its morality play is epic in its own way, yet intimate in its execution. The visual language of the characters is as important as film’s narrative.
The movie won Oscars for the Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Picture, and continues to be the most influential film to have come from Hollywood till date. Many believe that The Godfather, the film, worked out to be way better than the book it was based on. The Mario Puzo classic was released three years prior to its movie adaptation.
The Rain People – 1969
‘The Rain People’ which was a teamwork of Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Duvall and James Caan, was essentially an existential and experimental character study. Natalie, played by Shirley Knight, is a pregnant housewife who leaves her husband in search of something better in the form of a break. While finding her way across the country, Natalie has multiple encounters, including with a lonely highway patrolman (played by Duvall) and a stranger called Killer (played by Caan). The Rain People comes across as a hypnotic and strange effort from the director, which is as non-commercial and provocative as any of Coppola’s later works.
Apocalypse Now – 1979
This one became the second Cannes-winning movie for Francis Ford Copolla. It proved that the film creation process doesn’t necessarily have to be always smooth to deliver pure magic in the end. Heart attack suffered by the lead cast, horrible weather conditions and Marlon Brando’s dysfunctional behaviour did no harm to the intensity of the movie, in the end. In fact, one can see the chaos of the film shoot filtering into its disoriented evocation. The film talks about Vietnam war from a very tragic and humane perspective, to the extent that it dwarfs almost every other American war film made till date.