1707981696 Sofia Coppola I didnt want to turn Elvis into a

Sofia Coppola: “I didn’t want to turn Elvis into a villain” | Culture

There are people who dream of going to the cinema all their lives. Sofia Coppola, on the other hand, was born in the seventh art. When he made his debut in front of a film camera, he was not even 10 months old: before he could talk and walk, he learned to act. Something simple, yes: he had to endure a little water falling on him. He played Michael Francis Rizzi, the baby baptized near the end of The Godfather. He once said that his first childhood memory was “the jungles of the Philippines during the filming of Apocalypse Now.” And that she visited Akira Kurosawa's house as a child. At the age of three, she played a girl on board a ship in The Godfather 2. And now of age, she played Mary Corleone in the third part. He always said that the best lesson from father Francis Ford and mother Eleanor, both directors, was “a life of creativity.” However, in his intensive course he soon discovered the dark side of the dream: in a recent interview he remembered the cover of a magazine that accompanied his young face with the headline “Did she ruin the Godfather?”

More information

An 18-year-old girl was examined. Criticized. Intimidated by a powerful and masculine world. Some time ago, when Coppola read Elvis and I, Priscilla Beaulieu's autobiography published in 1985, he found a familiar place. It would be an enjoyable summer read. It became his new film. “It is the story of a strong woman and her search for autonomy,” emphasized the filmmaker (New York, 51 years old) to a group of international journalists at the last festival in Venice, where Priscilla debuted.

The fight for independence could be another point of contact between the two. Coppola turned to film after Apple pulled out of financing his series adaptation of Edith Wharton's novel “The National Customs.” But first he left a public message to the platform: “They weren't interested in the idea of ​​a woman who wasn't liked.” Just as he had no inhibitions about stopping his father from attending his daughter's first filming. 1999. The Virgin Suicides – another book that she fell in love with so much that she made a film of it. The myth recommended to the debutante: “You should say 'action' higher up, from the diaphragm.” As the specialist website Imdb reports, she thought: “Ok. “You can go now.”

Jacob Elordi and Cailee Spaeny in “Priscilla” by Sofia Coppola.Jacob Elordi and Cailee Spaeny in “Priscilla” by Sofia Coppola.

Maybe things have changed today. And they ask Francis more about Sofia than the other way around. After all, she is the youngest filmmaker in history – and the first American woman – to compete for the Oscar for Best Director (for Lost in Translation, 2003). From an artist fascinated by photography and fashion magazines, unafraid to assert that one can “be substantial and be interested in frivolities.” From a symbol that captures the imagination of teenagers or signs autographs for girls who have Sofia named after her. From a creator capable of building, from Marie Antoinette to seduction, passing through Somewhere, her personal universe, always as she wanted and away from the “mainstream”, as she herself highlighted. A formula that returns in Priscilla. Along with the mission to shed light on another woman hidden in the shadows of a myth.

“It’s all in the book, I didn’t invent anything. “I wanted it to be told from his point of view and seen through his eyes,” Coppola said in Venice. That is, a girl is 14 years old when a 24-year-old singer and soldier, who already has a certain fame and irresistible attractiveness, begins to be interested in her. There are almost no films or concerts in Priscilla. Among other things, because the fund that manages Elvis' rights has banned the use of his songs. Another indication of Coppola's different approach. It's about telling the person who has lived, enjoyed and suffered right next to us in 15 years of our relationship. A story halfway between idyll and terror. Although Priscilla Beaulieu confirmed at the Venice festival that Elvis was the love of her life.

Here the legend himself passes through the filter of his wife and becomes a man. Sometimes egomaniacal, insecure, angry, even pathetic. “Certainly the film doesn’t leave him on a pedestal. It was interesting to see the reality behind the myth. And he discovered how frustrated he was at not being taken seriously as an actor. I understand this struggle. I didn't want to judge him or make him a villain, but rather approach him sensitively and empathize with him. This is her story,” Coppola described.

Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in a still from “Lost in Translation.” Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in a still from “Lost in Translation.”

The filmmaker described the unprecedented feeling that her film's subject was alive, present and just a phone call away. “One of the biggest challenges was finding a balance between respecting her, liking her and feeling represented and what she wanted to do as a director,” Coppola explained. And he added: “I’m moved by the stories of people trying to understand who they are.”

The veto over the use of the songs hardly bothered him: he believes it was good for the film in the end. In addition, when she was younger, she listened more to another Elvis, namely Costello. The fact that Baz Luhrmann was filming and releasing the film biography “Elvis” almost at the same time didn’t worry him: on the contrary, he believes that the renewed interest could benefit his film. But compared to that blockbuster, Coppola's budget was less than a quarter. And shortly before filming began, he lost another million. Therefore, she was forced to complete the entire filming in a single month. “It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” said the director. However, Priscilla Beaulieu admitted he did “a fantastic job”.

In Venice, the protagonist Cailee Spaeny also won the Volpi Cup for best actress. This also acknowledged the careful casting of Coppola and Kirsten Dunst, his frequent collaborator. The size difference between the tiny Spaeny and the giant Jacob Elordi, the Elvis of the screen, served as an additional metaphor. Just like the noise and chaos in the sequences with the musician, compared to the sometimes claustrophobic intimacy when the young woman is left alone. And then Coppola gave the production his traditional millimeter attention, from the melancholy palette to depict Priscilla's stay in Germany, to the explosion of color as she visits her lover in the United States, to the moment she pulls something out of the suitcase takes toothbrush: “I love all these details. They are the ones who make a film real. When you start, part of it depends on what it looks and feels like.”

From left to right: Roman, Eleanor, Francis Ford Coppola and Sofia at a premiere in Rome in 2007.Left to right: Roman, Eleanor, Francis Ford Coppola and Sofia at a premiere in Rome in 2007. Getty Images

“Making a film takes so much time and energy that you really have to love it. The only thing I'm careful about is avoiding something that I can't put my whole heart into,” Coppola noted. At this point, the filmmaker claims that she doesn't think about the audience, but instead films what she herself would like. And he realized that Priscilla was speaking to him in other ways too. “I still see women in relationships where they let men make all the decisions. It was exciting to look at my mother's generation and see what has changed and what hasn't. And at the same time, in conversation with my two daughters, when confronted with certain things, they responded, “I would never let a man tell me what to do.”

She also doesn't want to show Romy and Cosima – both the result of her connection with the musician Thomas Mars – the way. Although the first, 17 years old, went viral a few months ago with an acclaimed video on the social network TikTok. Filmmaker wood? Namely. For now, the saga continues thanks to the elders. Grandfather Francis Ford is finally preparing his long-awaited film Megalopolis, which he has dreamed of for four decades. At 84, he is preparing to hold the camera again. Like in so many masterpieces. Although none are like the home video he made on March 14, 1971: Eleanor went into labor; Francis Ford pressed the “record” button; Sofia was born. And to the cinema.

All the culture that goes with it awaits you here.

Subscribe to


The literary news analyzed by the best critics in our weekly newsletter


Subscribe to continue reading

Read without limits