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Megalopolis

Coppola believes he has one great film left in him: a utopian science-fiction epic called ‘Megalo­polis,’ which he has been writing and planning for three decades. “My talent is not the God-given talent of Wyler, or Spielberg or Polanski,” he says, laughing. “They can just do it. I have to work at it. But if you rewrite a script a hundred times and make it one percent better each time, then it’s eventually 100 percent better than it would have been.” He waves a shoebox-sized screenplay at the camera. This is it, with a subtitle borrowed from H. G. Wells – “The Shape of Things to Come” – and an epigraph from Tennyson, which he reads aloud: “‘For I dipt into the future/ Far as human eye could see/ Saw the vision of the world/ And all the wonder that would be.’ That’s what I want to express in the film,” he says, its plot following a struggle between an establishmentarian mayor and a visionary architect over the future of a great American city. Budget-wise, it’s “not on the level of Ridley Scott or Christopher Nolan,” but would cost significantly more than Youth Without Youth, Tetro and Twixt. He’d planned to finance ‘Megalopolis’ with the proceeds of his vineyard and hotel businesses – “But now, with the pandemic, the cinemas are traumatized, and most of my companies are closed and I don’t know for sure that I’ll be able to earn that kind of money again. I know if I don’t, I can just publish the script and say, ‘This is the movie I wanted to make.’ I accept that you don’t get to make all the films. For me, the joy of cinema has been to learn the different forms of it. I mean, what could be more different than The God­father and Apocalypse Now, or Apocalypse Now and One from the Heart, or One from the Heart and Rumble Fish? With every film I made I was looking to learn something new. Now I feel ready to put it all into practice.”

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