Francis Ford Coppola , the man behind the master-piece Godfather is one of the seminal filmmakers of the generation that changed the way movies are made. Five of the films he's worked on are listed among the American Film Institute's top 100 films ever made. He is a man who's spent his life seeking to realize his own artistic vision even as he acknowledges the force that truly drives Hollywood--box office receipts.
Coppola is on every film critic's list of Hollywood's greatest directors. But he is renowned nearly as much for his mistakes as for his masterpieces, for his boastings as for his brilliance, for the money he has lost as for the fortunes he has made. In an era when playing it safe seems to be the creed of the Hollywood/Wall Street complex, Coppola is a driven, unpredictable renegade who has repeatedly gambled everything in an effort to bring his ideas to life, regardless of the cost.
- He was born in 1939 in Detroit, USA, but he grew up in a New York suburb in a creative, supportive Italian-American family. Francis Ford Coppola graduated with a degree in drama from, and did graduate work at UCLA in filmmaking. Coppola began his career directing low-budget films and working on screenplays for other directors.
- He co-authored the script for Patton, winning the Academy Award in 1970. His directorial fame escalated with the release of The Godfather in 1972. The film revolutionized movie-making in the gangster genre, earning praise from critics and public alike. It went on to win three Academy Awards, including his second, for Best Adapted Screenplay, and was instrumental in cementing his position as a prominent American film director.
- He helped to make a star of his nephew, Nicolas Cage.
- Caught polio when he was a child. During his quarantine, he practiced puppetry.
- Was voted the 21st Greatest Director of all time by Entertainment Weekly. Won five Oscars in four years - one in 1971 for Patton (1970), one in 1973 for The Godfather (1972), and three in 1975 for The Godfather: Part II (1974). Directed 12 different actors in Oscar-nominated performances.
- Was in the early stages of developing a script for a fourth Godfather film with Mario Puzo which was to tell the story of the early lives of Sonny, Fredo and Michael. After Puzo's death in July of 1999, Coppola abandoned the project, stating that he couldn't do it without his friend.
- Is the only director to direct two actors in Oscar-winning performances in the same role: Marlon Brando in The Godfather (1972), and Robert De Niro in The Godfather: Part II (1974).
- Apocalypse Now, a grandiose work of flawed genius which nearly destroyed the lives and careers of all involved. Beginning with the heart attack of star Martin Sheen, the film suffered catastrophe after catastrophe, quickly going over budget and over schedule; as Coppola himself later noted, "little by little we went crazy." Begun in 1976, Apocalypse Now was not completed until three years and 30 million dollars later, where it premiered at Cannes as the winner of the Palm d'Or. It was subsequently released to wildly mixed reviews, despite garnering a pair of Oscars.
- Whatever its artistic merits, Apocalypse Now marked the beginning of a long downward spiral, as Coppola's brand of filmmaking grew more and more out of control.
- However, 1992's lavish adaptation Bram Stoker's Dracula was a hit, restoring much of Coppola's box-office lustre. His next directorial effort was The Rainmaker, based on the courtroom drama by novelist John Grisham. The 1998 film drew a number of positive reviews, further helping to restore the director to good standing.
- Coppola mostly maintains the role of producer for many years, now. He emerged from directorial retirement for the drama Youth Without Youth. Critics were disappointed with the film and it's a box-office failure too.
"What the studios want now is "risk-free" films but with any sort of art you have to take risks. Not taking risks in art is like not having sex and then expecting there to be children."
"If the movie works, nobody notices the mistakes... If the movie doesn't work, the only thing people notice are mistakes."
"The easiest way to make sure a movie is successful is to make a traditional movie very well. If you make a slightly unusual movie or [don't] exactly follow the rules as everyone sees them, then you get in trouble or, like with Apocalypse, wait 20 years to hear that was really good."
"I heard about the success of The Godfather from my wife, who called me while I was writing Gatsby. I wasn't even there. Masterpiece, ha! I was not even confident it would be a mild success."
"Anything you build on a large scale or with intense passion invites chaos."
Francis Ford Coppola spearheaded a renaissance in American filmmaking, heralding a golden age in 1970's, ranging from films like Godfather to Apocalypse Now. One of his era's most impassioned talents, Coppola was also one of its most erratic; in both his career and his personal life, he experienced euphoric triumph and shattering tragedy, pushing the limits of the cinematic form with a daring and fervor which became the hallmarks of not only his greatest successes but also his most notorious failures. Since this spectacular failure in the early 1980s, Coppola has never quite delivered a masterpiece, offering only fleeting glimpses of his idiosyncratic talent.But, there is still a unshakable feeling that a return to form , must surely be imminent.