The award-winning film director makes the case for a new kind of cinema.
Despite all of Coppola’s (The Godfather Notebook, 2016) accomplishments and awards, one thing has eluded him: “I never got to try my hand at Live Cinema.” After he finished Apocalypse Now (1979), “probably the most daunting and terrifying experience, both artistically and financially, I have ever had. It was clear that I had flown, like Icarus, too close to the sun,” he decided to quickly do another film, a comedy set in Las Vegas, One from the Heart (1982), which would “fulfill my life’s dream to do Live Cinema.” However, it failed critically and financially while Apocalypse Now began to make money. So what is Live Cinema? It meant doing the piece live and then beaming it out to theaters while making it available for home viewing as well. It demands “far more precision than movies, theater, or television.” For Coppola, it was “exhilarating and exciting to work in this new form.” In 1987, he worked with Shelley Duvall’s Faire Tale Theatre, and each show was shot with continuous continuity but not broadcast live. Coppola’s “Rip Van Winkle” was his “lone commercial foray into something close to the live television medium.” Most of the book deals with technique. Coppola calls it a “manual,” a guide to how LC might be done, focusing on the actors, rehearsing, and the use of sophisticated technology. One-third of the book includes the author’s journal notes for a LC experimental workshop conducted in Oklahoma City in 2015. Fans hoping for a personal book about Coppola and his work will be disappointed, but there are a few nuggets scattered about they will enjoy: his admiration for John Frankenheimer’s live TV work (a forerunner of LC); The Thief of Bagdad is his favorite film; and he’s always been a fan of Jerry Lewis’ movies, which were “eccentric and did unexpected things.”
Technical and prescriptive, this will appeal primarily to hard-core aficionados.