Francis Ford Coppola says he didn’t realize film ‘Megalopolis’ would be so timely

By Thomson Reuters May 17, 2024 | 8:55 AM

By Miranda Murray

CANNES (Reuters) – Francis Ford Coppola did not know how relevant “Megalopolis”, a sci-fi epic that is an allegory for the fall of the Roman Republic, would become to U.S. politics when he first began developing the concept decades ago, the legendary auteur said at the Cannes Film Festival.

Coppola wanted to do a Roman epic set in modern America.

“But I had no idea that the politics of today would make that so relevant,” Coppola told a news conference on Friday, a day after his decades-in-the-making passion project had its world premiere.

“Because what’s happening in America, in our republic and our democracy, is exactly how Rome lost their republic thousands of years ago,” said “The Godfather” director. “Our politics has taken us to the point where we might lose our republic.”

Artists, not politicians, are going to be the answer, he added, because they shine a light on contemporary life.

The film, which is loosely inspired by an attempted coup during the Roman Republic, follows Cesar Catilina, an architect-scientist played by Adam Driver, as he goes head-to-head with the order-loving mayor of New Rome, played by Giancarlo Esposito, in trying to turn his utopian vision into reality.

“Toward the end of the movie last night I started – I came to tears because all of a sudden I got it. I’m not supposed to know everything. I’m not supposed to know all the answers,” said Esposito, known for “Breaking Bad” and “The Usual Suspects”.

The film does not offer a clear answer to all the questions it raises but instead aims to inspire a collective conversation on how to improve society, which in turn allows people to feel hope for the future, he explained at the news conference.

Coppola, who started developing the film’s concept in the early 1980s, said there was no word to describe the emotion he felt upon finally seeing the finished product on the big screen.

However, the Oscar-winning director of “Apocalypse Now”, who has often re-edited his work after it has already been released, did not rule out also making changes to his latest film.

“I’ll be here in 20 years, I think,” the 85-year-old said, briefly casting his eyes to the ceiling.

“If there’s a way I can make the film a little better, I will try. But I know that I’m done with it because I’ve already started writing another film and that’s a good sign that I’m finished.”

(Reporting by Miranda Murray and Alicia Powell; editing by Jonathan Oatis)